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When you’re in early recovery, even good days can be tough. It feels like you’re pulled in 521 directions at once, and there’s the constant draw to fall back into old habits. But when life sucks, staying sober can be more than hard, it can feel like it’s next to impossible.
But it’s not.
Even though breakups, job losses, and an unexpected death of a friend or family member, can be devastating, they will all happen at some point. And you need to know that you can make it through without relapsing.
Here’s how to stay sober, and sane, when life sucks.
Don’t Be a Victim
When things seem to be going down hill, you must remember that bad things happen to people all the time. It’s life, and you can’t take it personal. That includes not becoming a victim to life’s circumstances.
So you lost your job and it wasn’t your fault. Yes, that sucks. But complaining about it not being fair, and focusing on the injustice of it all will just make you feel down and make you more likely to fall deeper into the “poor me” trap.
Instead, buck up and remember what’s in your control. Put out applications. Send resumes. Find a new, better and more rewarding job. Regardless of the situation, being a victim never kept someone in recovery.
When you’re feeling down, seek out support from friends and family to help keep you sane and from slipping into old behaviors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and let people know that you’re having a hard time. They’ll be much happier that you reached out now, before you picked up, then afterwards, when a relapse has already happened.
You can also reach out to those in the 12 step community. When things feel out of control or you feel that you’re at risk for relapse, go to a meeting. Stand up and say, I’m having a rough time, and any extra support is appreciated.
Make It Not About You
One of the easiest ways to forget your own problems is to give back to people less fortunate than yourself. When you’re feeling low, instead of sitting at home in isolation feeling sorry for yourself, get up and head to the local soup kitchen or veteran’s association. Spend time focused on someone other than yourself and your own situation won’t seem so bad.
Remember the Cost of Addiction
When it seems like all you want to do is forget, to go get high or drunk and be gone, if only for a few moments, remember what addiction’s cost you. Remember what life was like when every moment was chaos and unmanageable. Remember how family and friends wouldn’t return calls or didn’t trust to leave you alone. And you’ll remember what you’ve got to fight for.
It can be hard staying sober when life gets hard, but when you focus on what’s in your control, seek help when you need it, and remember why you got sober in the first place, you’re already on your way to winning the battle.