Have you started your journey in sobriety? Did you experience a pink cloud but now things are starting to feel a little more real? Have you noticed cravings coming in, or are you feeling a little jumpy? Here are a few things you can do.
Renew Your Acceptance Vow
One of the most popular passages from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is found on p. 417. The basic idea is that one of the alcoholic/addict's chief problems lies in accepting life on life's terms. On a daily basis what jeopardizes my sobriety are people/places/things that I cannot simply accept for what they are: the old lady chatting forever to the person working the register, the dishes piling up in the sink, the long to-do list, or just the way I feel that day, whether it's tired, lonely, etc.
Just simply replace the bits below in brackets with whatever is bothering you. For example, "When I am disturbed, it is because I find my boss unacceptable to me."
And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find [some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —]unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
Say A Prayer
I know prayer can be a challenge to people who are newly sober. But don't forget, your higher power can be ANYTHING you want. At first mine was a drag queen dancing through the sky! The gist here is that the addict has tried living based on their own will and decision-making skills. They just seem to get us into trouble!
God can you be with me right now...could you have my back?”
The simple act of praying contains in it the open-mindedness and willingness to let go of our worries. Most of them are completely out of our control anyway!
Read the Big Book
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is one hell of a piece of literature. I've read a lot in my time, but when I read the Big Book it was one of the first times in my life that I felt less alone. It was like my life was on paper, written and lived by someone else (in the 1930s!).
One of the best passages can be found on pp. 60-63 where it talks about how the addict is like an actor who's telling all the other cast and crew members how the film should be filmed, directed, acted, etc. It's a great piece about self-will and how it gets us nowhere a lot of the time.
Alternatively, you can read pp. 86-88 which is a morning meditation which reminds us to pause before acting.
Call Another Alcoholic/Addict in Recovery
We addicts can get very easily obsessed with ourselves, thinking endlessly about what's wrong, etc. Sometimes the best antidote to this self-obsession is calling someone else and asking them how they're doing. It might seem weird to not dump everything that's going on for us on them, but instead just listen to them, but it can be a really effective way of destroying our ego a little bit. Very often, a couple of minutes in I've already forgotten about what was bugging me, or it at least seems less problematic.
Building a fellowship, or tribe is central to recovery. Very early on in my sobriety I was amazed by how quickly one addict can connect with another. All those gnarly stories or secrets we thought made us terrible people were instead things we could relate with each other about. It's so powerful to have that kind of camaraderie, trust and connection when getting sober.
If you can call someone with less time sober than you, even better. If you have 60 days sober and another person has 59, you might hold the key to that person staying sober another 24 hours. So...call someone.
Engage in Service
Getting out of your own way begins with...doing something for someone other than yourself. You could head to the local grocery store and put all the shopping carts in the car park back in their little cages. You could buy $5 Starbucks gift cards and keep them with you and hand one out to a bus driver. You could drop off old clothes at a charity donation shop or do a food drop at a homeless shelter. It also helps to have commitments at the meetings you go to.
Service helps us put someone else ahead of us and although right now it might seem like your worries are the only ones that matter, something magical happens when we stop thinking about ourselves for a second...our concerns usually go away.
Make A Gratitude List
Write down 10 things you're grateful for. It could be food in the fridge, your sobriety, friends, the weather, or it could be super poetic if that floats your boat. Personally I love the way the morning air feels on my skin when I'm walking and the smell of the cactuses down the street.
Getting and staying sober is all about an attitude shift and being grateful is a step in the right direction. I've found within minutes of doing a gratitude list I feel better.
Move Your Body or Change the Temperature
Get that body moving. Staying stagnant will make the body tell the mind all sorts of sad stories and make everything seem harder, nudging you towards that next drink or drug. So take a walk, go to the gym, take a cold shower or, even better, a cold plunge. The temperature change, the body movement and the oxygen intake will get you back on top in no time.
Sometimes it's just good to get quiet. Close your eyes, focus on your breath or bring your attention to your body by doing a body scan (notice the way your forehead feels, your cheeks, your arms and legs, or your belly). Our mind's can race a mile a minute and make us feel like a frantic mess. Our body is where most of the healing work takes place and a little meditative silence can be just what you need to calm down.
Go To A Meeting
Last, but absolutely not least, go to a meeting. Whether in-person or on Zoom, 12-step meetings quickly put you in contact with like-minded individuals. Hearing their stories of experience, strength and hope, or sharing about what's on your mind (especially if you're considering picking up) is a great antidote to cravings and negative moods.
It's amazing the lengths to which we would go to score drugs or drink when in active addiction. It often didn't matter that we got behind the wheel of a car five sheets to the wind, dug deep into the dark web, used in the work bathrooms or went to dodgy parts of town to score. When we get sober the phone or the above suggested steps can feel like the hardest things in the world to do, but they're all a darn sight easier than a relapse and everything that comes with that.