Getting sober isn’t easy. In fact, it can be one of the toughest things someone will ever attempt. Imagine spending your life relying on a substance or a behavior just to make you feel like you imagine everyone else does. Addiction is an epidemic. The opioid crisis alone claims over 50,000 deaths per year in the US, with over 10 million people a year misusing them. In 2022 the deaths will exceed the total number of US casualties in the Second World War.
So, if you’re trying to get sober, that’s incredible. You’re turning the tide in your life and. At the beginning it can seem like there’s no end in sight but, with a willingness to turn your life around and engage in an action-oriented program, the future is in your hands.
So, what are some of the things that can help your sobriety?
Get A Sponsor
A sponsor is key. They’re someone who will take you through the 12-steps of Alcoholics, Narcotics, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, or any number of sister programs (for example, those dedicated to eating disorders, debt and gambling related patterns and behaviors). Typically they’re someone who has something you want. That doesn’t mean anything material — although of course some people might choose a sponsor based on the way they look or the car they drive. Something you want looks more like a calmness, a serenity, a way of approaching the world and its challenges with grace. A sponsor will take you through the steps the way they were taken through them and the best way to find one is by attending AA meetings.
Find A Tribe
Tribe is key. The fellowship that springs up around the various 12-step programs offers a social connection with people who have been through similar things to you. There’s nothing more comforting than knowing you’re not alone and when in active addiction it seems like you are just that. Isolated, separated from everyone else. Nobody understands the lengths you need to go to to feel OK. When you spend time with other addicts and alcoholics you’ll quickly find that they’ve had similar experiences, shames, regrets, angers and resentments at the world. There’s laughter in a tribe and support. A sisterhood or a brotherhood which, although it might seem too much at first, will love you until you learn to love yourself. Friendships in Alcoholics Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, to name just two 12-step programs, are based on a depth of understanding and compassion that’s not seen elsewhere. While a lot of people shoot the breeze and never really get to know each other at a primal level, in AA within minutes you know someone else’s darkest secrets, deepest fears and most heart-rending challenges.
Feel No Shame
Sure, it’s easier said than done, but there’s no shame in this game. Addiction is a disease which claims people for the grave, the prison or the psychiatric ward. It is a medically recognized diagnosis and it’s often genetic. People make mistakes, and everyone has skeletons in their closet. Modern society’s emphasis on social media curation, which allows people to manufacture their image and show only a portion of their entire life makes it very easy for all of us to judge and shame people for their actions. In AA we slip, we fall, and we get back up. Life is learned in the mistakes we make, and the night is always darkest before the dawn. Sobriety lies in joining a community of people who look up, not down. Transformation comes from recognizing the hardships we all face. You are not alone, you will be ok, and there’s nothing you can say in AA that would shock anyone. We’ve heard it all before and we’re here to walk through it all with you
Ask for Help. It’s Courageous, Not Weak
Living life as if we have all the answers is untenable and painful. Nothing in this world is truly independent — everything has its cause and its effect. The piece of paper in your notebook reflects the rain, the sun and soil that made the tree grow. The education you receive to earn the degree and get the job is made possible by all sorts of people and technologies. Therefore, when you ask for help you admit that you don’t know and can someone else show you the way. Life is easier when you ask for help and not a single award-winning actor steps onto the Oscars stage without thanking everyone who made their accolade happen. Ask for help, please. It might just save your life.
Find A Rehab or Sober Living for Treatment
You don’t have to go this alone. Some addictions need more attention than others, and withdrawals are a gnarly part of the sobering up process. There are so many places out there that offer programs designed to rehabilitate and assist addicts and alcoholics in getting back on their feet. A rehab facility or a sober living will offer structure, routine and supervision while you move through the initial stages of sobriety. Many have programs which facilitate therapy sessions, writing workshops, discussion groups, and even more creative things like ocean-swimming and dance therapy.
Work the 12-Steps
The 12-steps have helped millions of people get and stay sober. Not only that, but those people have gone on to thrive and live lives beyond their wildest dreams. The 12-steps held an addict acknowledge their problems, unleash a power which enables them to surrender their anxiety about day-to-day life, let go of the secrecy and anger which overwhelmed their lives and break bread with those who their addiction affected. It’s a powerful experience everyone everywhere, with or without addiction, could benefit from working.