If you are in recovery from a substance use problem, you definitely know how much work it took to start being drug-free. You also know that will need to do all that you can to try not to have a relapse. You might feel as though a relapse is the last thing that could happen to you. But this is actually very common for individuals who are in the early stages of being sober – and even more so if living alone. While living alone, you will have to manage yourself without much accountability in order to live a healthy and drug-free lifestyle.
Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy and drug-free lifestyle while living alone.
1. Know Your Personal Triggers
A major part of preventing relapse is understanding triggers that are external (individuals, places, things, and circumstances that evoke thoughts or cravings related to substance use) as well as your internal triggers (sentiments, contemplations, or feelings related to substance misuse). When you have identified your triggers, you can make a plan to prepare for or keep yourself away from them.
Some common triggers may include:
- Emotional distress
- Factors in your environment (e.g.: advertising) that result in cravings
- People in your life who are still utilising drugs or drinking
- Relationship problems
- Job or financial issues
2. Form New Habits and Connections
It’s tempting to just proceed with the same daily schedule you had before you became drug free, for example staying close to the same individuals and places. But this will make it a lot simpler to slip back into old habits.
Some of the quick changes you need to make should be self-evident – like not staying close to people that you used with or acquired drugs from. Do not contact them. Instead, invest in forming new connections with people who live the sort of healthy lifestyle you are keen to emulate, and who can hold you to account should you choose to share your journey with them. There are other changes you may want to make consciously as well – for example, changing your route to work to stay away from any triggers, or individuals, certain spots, or things that make you need to use drugs or drink again.
3. Plan your time
Another significant part of developing a drug-free way of life is developing and maintaining a structured day-by-day plan that you can reliably follow. Organization and structure are extremely helpful for recovery – if you have been through a formal recovery program, your counsellor may have already spent some time working with you on how to build a day by day and week by week timetable. It’s important to try to stick to the timetable you create, so that you have a clear plan for each day.
4. Challenge Your Thoughts
When you’re craving, you may find that you focus more on the positive feelings associated with drinking or using, while minimising the negatives. You may find it helpful to remind yourself of the downsides – and that you stand to lose a good deal by starting reverting to old habits. You could write these down on a little card that you keep with you. Particularly when you live alone, it’s important to keep reminding yourself why you started living drug-free in the first place, as you won’t have anyone else to do this for you. This is a really important form of personal accountability.
5. Exercise to stay drug-free
It’s normal to experience some anxiety and perhaps even depression during your initial phase of recovery. It takes time to get used to living without relying on substances to manage difficult feelings. Exercise is an incredibly simple way of boost your endorphin levels. Whether it’s walking, running, yoga, trekking, swimming, lifting weights, or something different, there will undoubtedly be a form of exercise that works for you. Getting your body moving will lift your energy, support your mindset shift, and can bring clarity and peace of mind. Regular exercise is a great habit to form. When you’re exercising alone, there are plenty of ways to make it fun.
Maintaining a healthy, drug-free routine after experiencing addiction is not easy – but it IS achievable. The right routines, regular exercise, and trigger management are all important components of a recovery plan. Set simple, achieveable goals. Monitor your progress, and make sure you give yourself credit for the progress you have made – even if your journey isn’t a wholly linear one.
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