“My Best Tip for Sticking with Recovery”

When you don’t know where you’re going or how to get there, it typically makes sense to ask someone who’s been down the road you’re traveling. This is Five Great Tips for Sticking with Recoverynever more true than when you’re on the twisting, turning path known as recovery. That’s why Addiction.com asked five leading addiction bloggers to share their best advice for all aspects of recovery.

In this article, the first in a series, we asked these bloggers — who’ve been sober between three and 15 years — how they manage to stay the course when things get tough. Sure, what works for them might not work for you, but their insights and experience may just give you the inspiration you need to avoid relapse.

(Up next in the series: “Five Things I Wish I Knew When I First Got Sober.”)

Jean Greer McCarthy, UnPickled and Addiction.com blogger
Sobriety Date: March 20, 2011
My Best Advice for Sticking with Recovery: “Be prepared to do things differently — even in areas of life that seem to have no connection to alcohol [or whatever your “drug” of choice]. Staying sober isn’t just about switching to soda at happy hour. Dig into what’s behind that constant need to numb feelings. Evaluate things like self-care, personal relationships and life choices. Recovery is an opportunity to reframe our approach so that we aren’t constantly uncomfortable.”

Josie Carr, The Miracle Is Around the Corner blogger
Sobriety Date:
January 27, 2012
My Best Advice for Sticking with Recovery: “In the earliest days of sobriety, the tip that worked for me was to put my recovery first. For me, that meant a daily to-do list that consisted of starting each day with a prayer and asking for another day of sobriety, going to a 12-step meeting every day and talking to another person in recovery (it wasn’t enough to just sit at a meeting; I needed to interact). And hopefully those three things would help me accomplish the fourth, and most important, item on my to-do list: refrain from picking up a drink or a drug.

If I accomplished those four things, that day was a success. It didn’t matter if the laundry didn’t get done, if I forgot to respond to an email, if dinner was a frozen pizza — the day was a success if I stayed sober.

Later, as recovery became more comfortable, the tip that worked best was to get invested in your sober days (or weeks or months). I can remember the first time I had an urge/craving and my first thought was, Oh, but then I would lose my sober time. That felt like a real victory to me!

Nowadays, I would say service and staying connected to a sober support network helps me stick with recovery. I run a weekly 12-step meeting, and I know those attendees count on me to chair that meeting every single week … [and] I know I am going to at least one meeting a week. Consistently writing my blog, commenting and reading other recovery blogs, these are all things that help others, which in turn help me.”

Julie Elsdon-Height, Sober Julie blogger
Sobriety Date: February 6, 2010
My Best Advice for Sticking with Recovery: “There’s no one-single tip that will work for everyone, but I have found that living one day at a time is the basis for success. Some days this has meant living one hour at a time, realizing that I can’t spend my time worrying … instead I trust that God [or whatever higher power] will only give me what I can handle … I focus on the things I can actually change/affect during the moment.”
Veronica Valli, Recovery Rocks blogger and author of Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom
Sobriety Date: May 2, 2000
My Best Advice for Sticking with Recovery: “Discipline. Anyone who suffers from a disease needs to do certain things to take care of themselves. For alcoholics, that means taking care of our emotional and spiritual well being as alcoholism stems from our feeling that we are dying on the inside. There are many ways to take care of your emotional well being: writing down fears and resentment, keeping a gratitude list, meditation, telling someone how you feel. All of these things help us take care of emotional problems before they get out of control. As an alcoholic, I find accepting that there are just certain things I need to do in order to stay sober and finding a way to incorporate them in my life makes things a lot easier.”
Jennifer Matesa, Guinevere Gets Sober, Addiction.com blogger and author of The Recovering Body: Physical and Spiritual Fitness for Living Clean and Sober
Sobriety date: January 3, 2010
My Best Advice for Sticking with Recovery: “Practice rigorous honesty. Distortion of the truth is one of the two signal features of addiction (the other is obsession). To stay honest, I do two things: meditate, which allows me to hear direction from God/HP/whatever, and listen carefully to my trusted ‘recovery family,’ most of whom have more [sober] time than I do and can let me know when addiction might be deceiving me. It was in meditation that I came to understand that in order to prevent another relapse, I had to begin taking care of my body.”​

What do you think: What’s your best tip for sticking with recovery?

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