Then & Now: My Addiction Lifestyle Compared to My Sober Lifestyle (and the 5 Things I Wouldn’t Change for ANYTHING)

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When you live a life controlled by substance abuse, it can be eye-opening to start living without it… and to realize how different your life can be.

I Live Healthier

One of the things that helped me immensely during my recovery is that I now make it a point to live healthier. When I was using drugs, I barely ever slept, I didn’t eat much (and when I did, it was mostly junk food), and I didn’t like to go out of the house. But now, I make sure I eat right, exercise daily, and get at least seven hours of sleep. And you know what? It makes a huge difference.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, exercise can play an incredible role in recovery from substance abuse. It can help reduce feelings of stress that might otherwise lead to relapse, and it can address certain physiological needs that medications can’t. In addition, eating right and sleeping the right amount can also reduce your chances of experiencing cravings for drugs.

I Feel Better Equipped to Deal with Stress

I always thought my drug use was necessary in order for me to deal with stressful situations at work and home. I always told myself my substance use wasn’t a problem because it helped me cope. But when I realized this coping mechanism was actually harming me, I found new ways to deal with stress. I also realized I could even experience less stress overall if I stopped using.

Stress can often cause a person to start abusing dangerous substances like alcohol, cocaine, and opioids, but what many individuals don’t realize is the consistent abuse of these drugs can make a person less equipped to deal with their stressors (NIDA). In fact, many individuals who use drugs and alcohol to cut stress will begin to rely on substance abuse more and more instead of being able to cope with these issues on their own. Now that I’m not using drugs and I have learned better, safer coping mechanisms, I actually feel like I can deal with stress much more easily than I could when I was using.

I Have More Time

Before I stopped doing drugs, my life revolved around obtaining, using, and recovering from addictive substances. I felt like things were always moving too fast and that I didn’t have time to do the things I needed to do. Instead of trying to find a solution, I just continued to use.

Now, though, I realize I have much more time on my hands, although I still have the same amount of responsibilities, maybe more. I didn’t realize my substance abuse was actually taking time away from me and keeping me from getting things done. Today, I feel much more productive as well as capable of taking on the challenges I face on a day-to-day basis.

I Can Be There for My Loved Ones

The most important change, though, and the one I know now I would never want to give up, is that I can be there for my friends, family members, and loved ones who all supported me when I was going through my treatment and early recovery. Now that I’m sober, they know they can count on me in a way they once couldn’t, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

I Can Finally Feel Stable

It can be hard not to miss the intensity of the emotions you experience when you’re using, but, one day, I realized the highs I experienced while doing drugs don’t compare to the strength and stability I feel now. And when I remind myself of the painful lows that go along with those highs, I know I made the right changes to my lifestyle that allow me to have a much happier, healthier life.