In the United States, over 23 million adults have abused alcohol or other drugs. Drug abuse can lead to drug addiction (also called substance use disorder).
Addiction is a serious, life-threatening disease. Fortunately, it’s treatable. To start your recovery journey, here are ten tips for overcoming addiction.
1. Make Sober Friends
If you’re like most people with addiction, your social circle consists primarily of drug users. As you recover, it’s important to replace these friends with people who are sober and supportive of your goals.
You can find sober friends at peer support groups such as:
No matter where you meet them, sober friends can offer advice, hold you accountable, and serve as healthy, drug-free role models.
2. Eat Healthy
The healthier you are, the lower your risk of relapse. Boost your well-being by eating nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. These foods provide the physical and mental strength you need to recover.
Also, limit junk food (food with lots of sugar, salt, or fat and little to no nutritional value) and make water your primary drink of choice.
Like healthy eating, exercise helps you stay sober by improving your overall wellness. It not only strengthens your physical health but also provides endorphins, which are natural chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed.
In addition, regular exercise helps give your life structure. The structure reduces boredom, which is a common cause of relapse.
Each week, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (such as running).
4. Get Enough Sleep
Addiction likely causes unhealthy sleeping patterns. For instance, you may sleep off and on throughout the night or stay awake for days.
A healthy sleep schedule helps you recover from addiction by boosting your mood, energy, and concentration.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, try:
- keeping your bedroom quiet and dark
- avoiding large meals before bedtime
- avoiding electronic devices at bedtime
- going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
5. Take Time To Relax
As you adjust to life without drugs, you may experience anxiety. When left unmanaged, anxiety increases your risk of relapsing.
That’s why it’s important to prioritize relaxing activities. Popular options include:
- taking a bath
- listening to music
- playing an instrument
- getting a massage
- watching the stars
- spending time with friends and family members
For best results, try to engage in at least one relaxing activity a day.
6. Become More Mindful
Being mindful means observing the present moment without judgment. It’s a skill that helps you manage stress, sadness, anger, and other emotions you might feel during recovery.
Like all skills, mindfulness takes practice. The best form of practice is mindful meditation. If you’re new to meditating, look for some guided meditations online, and take time to practice each day.
You can also become more mindful by:
- trying mindfulness-based yoga
- focusing on one task at time
7. Set Goals
In the midst of substance addiction, many people lose touch with their goals. As you start the addiction recovery process, make a list of things you want to accomplish. Record long-term goals, such as starting a family, as well as short-term goals, such as exercising five days a week.
Keep your list of goals somewhere you’ll see it often, such as your bathroom mirror. This strategy can help you stay on track when you feel tempted to relapse.
8. Find New Hobbies
When you live with addiction, it’s common to abandon your favorite hobbies so you can focus all your energy on getting and using drugs. Once you recover, you’ll suddenly have much more free time. Fill this time with healthy, meaningful activities such as:
- creative writing
Such hobbies not only prevent boredom but also help you find joy. During recovery, it’s essential to remind yourself that you can experience joy without using drugs.
9. Know Your Triggers
Triggers are stimuli (such as people, places, situations, or feelings) that make you want to use drugs. Common triggers include:
- people you used to do drugs with
- places associated with drug use, such as bars or clubs
- unpleasant emotions, such as anxiety or sadness
If you’re not sure what your triggers are, talk to a therapist. Once you identify your triggers, you can learn coping skills to manage them. Popular coping skills include deep breathing, journaling, and spending time in nature.
10. Seek Professional Treatment
Most people can’t recover from addiction without professional treatment. Depending on your needs, you may need inpatient treatment (in which you live at a treatment center) or outpatient treatment (in which you regularly attend a treatment center while living alone).
Whether inpatient or outpatient, most treatment programs offer services such as:
- medical detox, where doctors will help you stop using drugs with minimal withdrawal symptoms
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), where you’ll learn how to change destructive behaviors and strengthen your mental health
- support groups, where you’ll connect with other people recovering from substance abuse
To learn more about addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist today.