Drug and Alcohol Free

Drug and Alcohol Free

Each new year offers the chance for change. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, take this moment to consider the drug and alcohol free life you want to lead in the new year. These 5 ways to start the year drug and alcohol free will help you reassess your life and transform your experience.

Pause and reflect.

Real transformation begins with reflection.

As the new year kicks off, take a moment and ask yourself: What role do drugs and alcohol play for you? Are they preventing you from leading a happy, healthy, fulfilling life? Would you like to be free of the burden of using them? Has your addiction turned into substance abuse, and perhaps even substance dependence? Why precisely do you use?

Honest answers to these questions are never easy, but they are essential. Without worrying about consequences or opinions, take stock of your life at this very moment. If drugs and alcohol are at the center of it — as they are for many people — then you have taken the first step in living a substance-free life.

You’ve recognized an addiction.

You’ve become more conscious.

A better life is possible.

Define the life you want.

Healthy, happy, drug and alcohol free lives are not accidental. They require conscious effort and deliberate work. As you settle into the new year, imagine the life you would like to have. Be detailed. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What activities, accomplishments, and relationships would you like to experience? Are drugs and alcohol truly part of your ideal life?

Once you begin to define the life you want, drugs and alcohol will already become a hurdle to its accomplishment. By focusing consistently on the life you do want — and beginning to take positive steps to achieve it — you will quickly begin to re-frame your relationship with drugs and alcohol.

Defining your life is, of course, just the first step. The next step is to put your vision into action.

Heal and rehabilitate.

Kicking an addiction requires real, conscious, focused effort. For most people, this involves some form of rehabilitation. The more formal and dedicated, the better.

All rehabilitation must begin with detoxification. Medically-supervised detox is best — in most cases, drug and alcohol abuse lead to serious physical risks that are best managed by a health professional. Many hospitals and almost all rehab centers offer detoxification. If, however, you want to detox alone, then stick to your detox program and make sure you have the help you need. The goal is to rid your body of the toxins in your body, the essential first step in recovery.

Then, develop a plan for a full mental, emotional and spiritual recovery. This generally includes in-depth therapy, productive activities, and self-reflection. The best option is to enroll in formal rehabilitation, ideally in an inpatient residential program, but you can also create your own rehabilitation regimen.

Whichever approach you take to being drug and alcohol free, you will have to redesign your life.

Curate your lifestyle.

Living drug and alcohol free requires precise, deliberate choices about how you live your life. Remaining sober, then, involves “curating” your life — deciding what and who belong in your life, and why.

Begin by determining which people you want in your life, and eliminate the negative influences that shape to your addiction. These often include friends who use and people who contribute to feelings of self-doubt, inferiority or hopelessness. At the same time, cultivate meaningful, constructive relationships with people you want in your life. This might include making new friends who share your priorities or reconnecting with old friends you might have lost touch with along the way. Places are also powerful influences. Avoid physical locations that trigger your addictive impulses — bars, parties, certain homes or experiences — particularly in the beginning of your recovery.

Then decide how you want to spend your time. Which productive activities and interests do you enjoy? Which would you like to be part of your life? Are these possible to engage in fully if you are drinking or using? Joining a gym, volunteering in the community, taking an evening class or joining a book club are all easy but powerful ways to begin replacing addictive behaviors with constructive ones. They also help bring the right people into your life.

The key is to begin making deliberate choices about whom you spend your time with, and where and how you spend it. This makes sobriety not just possible but also rich, meaningful and enjoyable.

Hold yourself accountable.

Living drug and alcohol free is an ongoing process. To continue living a healthy life, you have to decide which standards you will hold yourself to — and how you will remain accountable to those standards.

Close friends are one of the greatest sources of accountability. Share your sobriety with people you trust. By articulating your recovery aloud, you are creating an obligation. In challenging moments, that obligation will help you stick with your program. The friends you choose to share your recovery with will also be there to support you and hold you accountable, reminding you why you chose to remain substance-free.

Accountability also comes from commitments and goals. Participate fully in your activities and hobbies, and commit to achieving meaningful, tangible goals. How many marathons would you like to run this year? How many books do you want to read? These goals will keep you focused and engaged.

Accountability also comes from a strong post-rehabilitation plan. To ensure you remain sober, consider enrolling in AA or NA, and commit to attending the right number of meetings for you, particularly during challenging periods. Connect with the people you meet there, and share your observations and struggles. These will keep you connected to your recovery over time.

Living drug and alcohol free is a gift. The beauty, of course, is that it’s a gift you give yourself. With some conscious effort, smart choices and a sound recovery plan, you can chart a meaningful, sustainable path to sobriety. These five tips will help you begin today.

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