We are indebted to LifeRing Scotland for the following tips that we wholeheartedly endorse.
Set yourself up for success
If this is your first day in recovery, you are likely to be feeling low.
You may be wishing you were not like this and could deal with addictive substances “normally”
You may have family or loved ones who are disappointed with you.
You may be hating on yourself.
These are all thoughts which are counter productive.
It is a good practice to reframe your thoughts on all of this, in fact it is a good practice to reframe every situation you are likely to come across.
I would reframe this as: I am taking control of my life in a healthy positive way. Life can be so much better. This is a freedom, not a burden.
These statements may feel odd just now but people do recover, and find that the journey of change, is liberating, and worthwhile to the extent that they are grateful that they came to this point. Yes they are grateful they have this “condition” because it brought them to a point where they can find joy in life.
Live in the now
In the short term, forget about what you did or didn’t do in the past. Seriously just accept that that was then and this is now. There will be time in the future where you can look back, with an objective mind, and look back in the right way. That may be with the help of counselling, but right now you want to just get a period of sobriety under your belt.
Be your own observer
Read about mindfulness. You don’t have to be an expert on it, just be aware of it, such that you can be aware of emotions that you will have. Being aware of emotions and accepting them is a way to keep urges at bay. Being aware of anger (for example), seeing it coming, observing it, accepting that it is ok to feel that way, but that you do not need to act upon it.
This may be difficult at first, but like everything it gets easier with practice.
Do what you need to do
Keep this close to your heart.
Ignore all or any of this advice if you feel it is truly counter productive to you staying sober.
You do what you need to do to stay sober.
If a loved one wants you to go to an event, and you do not feel you are ready, then don’t go. This is a time to be selfish. Don’t want to shop and pick up a bottle for your partner, “Sorry cant do that, you need to get that yourself.”
Cope with urges
Surf your urges
Urge surfing is a mindful activity. It is linked to being your own observer. Taking a step back from your thoughts, and observing the urge, like the temper tantrum toddler that it is. Read more below.
Delay, Distract, Decide
Delay: Give yourself 10 mins, you can decide after that.
Distract: Do another activity, could be, TV, reading, excersise, anything to take your mind off things.
Decide: Write down pros and cons. “Play the tape forward”. What will happen if you do? What will happen if you don’t?
Be kind to yourself
This is not the time to beat yourself up. You deserve to recover.
Eat ice cream.
Pick up a long lost hobby.
Buy something nice with the money you are saving.
Give yourself a hug.
Feel good about what you are doing.
All of this thinking about change can be exhausting, get plenty of rest.
Make an attempt at improving your sleeping habits
Speak to other peers
There are resources out there 12 steps, SMART recovery, or LifeRing. Find what fits you best. Keeping engaged will help you enormously. It is likely to make the difference. If you are able to do this on your own then all power to you, but many have found this to be the thing that keeps them sane.
Think about relapse in the right way
If you slip, then it is really important that you get back to the right frame of mind for your next attempt.
Slipping and relapse is a normal part of recovery.
Again, the same things above still apply.
You may be feeling that you failed. This is a perfect opportunity to reframe your thoughts on this. ” I have an opportunity to learn more about myself. I can learn from this and put myself in a better situation for my next attempt. ”