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Sobriety/Recovery FAQ

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

  • How do you know when it’s time to get help?

  • What scared you most about getting sober before you did it?

  • How do you find a purpose, any purpose, to stay sober? What was the major thing that inspired you or gave you purpose to get healthy?

  • What steps do you take to stay sober?

  • How do you deal with pressure from other people to go for a drink or family on holidays?

How do you know when it’s time to get help?

I don’t want to speak for everyone because I think the realization might look different depending on the person and/or situation. However, I do know that it definitely involves recognizing that your life has become too much for you to handle. I believe that this dawns on you as soon as you are able to separate the “high” or what you think you gain from the drug (or whatever it is) from the chaos it’s actually causing. Once you’ve made this distinction, you’ll know there’s no going forward without change.

A big indicator for me was not being able to go even an hour without taking some kind of drug or drinking. Being aware that I had lost my freedom and was totally dependent on something outside myself was terrifying; I could no longer deny that I needed help. It’s important to note that I was dependent for a long time before I consciously recognized I was dependent. Addiction does this interesting thing where it stops your brain from coming to these types of conclusions as a way to perpetuate itself. So you might look at somebody stuck in the cycle of heavy substance use and be able to identify with certainty that they are in trouble. This same person might disagree even though from the outside it is more than clear. Until somebody breaks free from denial, it's tough to commit to recovery.

What scared you most about getting sober before you did it?

My biggest fear was that I’d never feel “good” again. I used drugs and alcohol to numb out for a long time and I mistakenly began associating that process with feeling “normal” or happy. What I didn’t realize was that I had yet to experience true, unconditional JOY and the peace that a sense of stability brings. Today, I feel better than good. Even on my worst days, I'm so much better overall than I was when I was using.

I was also terrified that my life would be boring. Wrong again. Being sober has afforded me the opportunity to fully explore life and with that has come some of the best times ever. I’ve had more fun in the last 3 years than I can even explain to you. Were social situations more awkward at first? Of course — I wasn’t used to navigating adult social settings without being completely tuned out of my skull so it was naturally an adjustment. Once I got over the hump, though, I was able to enjoy these events for what they are, instead of for what I could make them by getting shitfaced. I also learned that I don’t actually like the big crowds and late nights like I’d convinced myself I did for so many years. I now know what is worth my time and what will bring me enjoyment and I can act accordingly, without the nasty hangover and drained bank account.

The only way to overcome these fears was to face them head-on and I'm so f*cking grateful that I did.

How do you find a purpose, any purpose, to stay sober? After losing control of my weight and doing eating disorder recovery this past year and a half, I have no purpose anymore and I feel like I’ve lost control over everything. What was the major thing that inspired you or gave you purpose to get healthy?

I felt this hard in the beginning. My sole “purpose” for a long time had been getting high and/or drunk and staying thin. I didn’t identify with any pursuit outside of that. I knew I wanted to live and that staying sober was my only shot at it. The people closest to me were another reason for me to get and stay healthy. If I couldn’t do it for me, I was going to do it for them. So I guess I would say - know why you're getting sober or entering recovery and make the answer(s) to that question your purpose at the start.

Shortly after my sobriety date, I started a new job. I had been offered the position a few weeks prior to getting sober. Weird timing, I know. Starting a new job isn’t usually something that is recommended in early recovery so I’m not advising this at all. It ended up being a positive thing for me because it gave me something to focus on (I also had gotten myself into a wee bit of debt that needed to be cleared) but I think the biggest advantage was that it demanded I get into a routine.

Routine was huge for me and still is. Within this routine, I started finding purpose in mundane tasks. I used my free clear-headed time to start cleaning up our house and purging old crap I didn’t need. Once I felt ready, I began to try on different hobbies/activities to see what would stick; I explored my values and tried to reconnect with what I was passionate about before the other shit. It’s a lot of trial and error and that’s okay - just don’t give up. Eventually, you will find something that gets you out of bed every day and excited.

From an energetic perspective, feeling a lack of purpose can often be an offshoot of boredom, which lives in our sacral centre. Feeling purposeless or disconnected can also indicate an underactive crown chakra. It’s helpful to work on the subconscious while trying to consciously create your new life. I would recommend trying to incorporate some type of journaling, meditation, reading, energy work, etc, to alleviate some of the existential dread.

What steps do you take to stay sober?

Full disclosure: my sobriety journey began with an intense moment of clarity. The desire to use was really stripped from me, especially after I continued to read and research about Big Alcohol and The War on Drugs. This is not the same for everybody and I am sensitive to that but I truly have not had to fight actual cravings for these last three years. What I have had to deal with is all the trauma that was stored in my body from years of abuse (both at my own hands and the hands of others), the feelings I had numbed/pushed down for a long time, as well as the disconnect from my true self that substance use effectively created. This has meant constant work on myself.

A look into my “sobriety toolkit” (so to speak) would show you:

  • Talk therapy

  • Reading/listening to recovery stories, as well as other tellings of the human experience

  • Art. Making it and exploring other artists’ works

  • Constant self-reflection and accountability to get to the bottom of triggers and unhelpful thinking (read: lots of journaling, talking to myself)

  • Dismantling how I’ve been socialized to betray my authentic self

  • Movement that isn’t focussed on weight loss

  • Being in nature

  • Being HONEST with myself and others

  • Staying in touch with my spirituality

  • Reiki

  • Eating intuitively and staying hydrated

  • Singing, dancing and laughing every damn day

  • ASMR & meditation

Substance use is a response to something, always. When you get at the “why,” the healing can begin and can continue happening so long as you’re ready and open to it. If you’re not ready, it’s not time.

How do you deal with pressure from other people to go for a drink or family on holidays?

My main defence against pressure is my honesty. I am extremely forthcoming about my sobriety but I never position it as a matter of not being able to drink. It’s always a hard “no, I don’t drink.” Any time I have been pressured, it’s been by somebody who was intoxicated and wasn’t operating at full capacity.

If somebody is pressuring you to drink or use it might be because it’s the only way they know how to connect with you or they're assuming that you’re just trying to be polite by declining. Unfortunately, we also live in a world where the choice not to drink just doesn’t make sense to some and they feel entitled to being provided with the reason in detail (cue: are you pregnant?). You don’t owe them this.

Sometimes the external “pressure” we feel is actually just our desire to people please and make others comfortable by maintaining the status quo. No matter the situation, if it becomes too uncomfortable, just leave. No matter where you are (unless you’re being physically restrained), you are FREE to leave.

Your only obligation is to yourself.

Still curious about something? Feel free to comment or contact me directly with your questions.

I love you.

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