Drug and alcohol abuse is an ongoing struggle, and the pressures of the holiday season can make you more likely to abuse them. Even if you’re around your family, you may find they contribute unexpected stress.
Immediately after the holidays is a good time to get sober. With the stress of family and work events behind you, you can focus on setting goals for yourself and the benefits of living a sober life.
Clear Starting Point
Many former patients look back on the day they got sober with pride. They mark that day as an anniversary where they started their journey upward into healthier, brighter selves.
New Year’s Day is a great day to start fresh, and it means you’ll never forget the anniversary. It also means you’ll be stepping off on your journey with millions of other people with New Year’s Resolutions of their own. You can confide in trusted friends and relatives about your goal for the year, and you can cheer each other on even when the goals become challenging.
Accomplishing New Goals
Getting sober opens up your time and energy to other hobbies and goals. Whether you’re a social butterfly or prefer to pursue solo hobbies, being sober makes it easier to focus on what you want to do in life.
You might have always wanted to run a half-marathon, write a novel, or go on a cross-country road trip. Alcohol and opioid addiction impede many of these things, especially in serious cases where addiction interferes with your ability to focus daily.
If you don’t have a particular bucket list item decided for the coming year, try to pick one that goes hand-in-hand with the goal of getting sober. You’ll find that staying sober is easier if you have a clear, concrete goal to help keep your mind occupied.
You can also try SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based goals that help keep you motivated and mark your progress. These are more fine-tuned than vague, overarching resolutions that can encompass many facets.
For instance, instead of committing to just saving money from not buying drugs or alcohol, commit to putting aside $100 per week. You can measure this goal in concrete terms, and you have a time limit for saving that $5,200 per year. Commit to using that money for a good cause, whether it be a vacation to boost your wellbeing, helping a family member or friend in need, or donating to a charity you’ve always admired.
Other SMART goals can include getting 15 minutes of exercise each day, calling a loved one every week for at least 20 minutes, and performing one act of kindness daily.
Make the Most of Your Winter
The winter months are hard, especially if you already struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or year-round mental health issues. The lower outdoor temperatures make it tempting just to stay inside, which may isolate you from friends and family or keep you from enjoying activities that make sobriety easier.
Getting support for substance abuse during the winter can get your life back on track as soon as possible. Although recovery is an ongoing process, by starting meetings and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in the winter months, you can focus on continuing your progress throughout the rest of the year.
There are typically fewer events to impede your treatment process once the holidays are over. Going to group therapy during outpatient treatment can help you socialize and feel supported, so don’t wait to jump in and work with a team of professionals to get sober. You should also confide in a specific trusted friend or family member during this time, as they can help you stay focused on staying sober on days when you can’t go to group therapy.
Living for Many More Years
One of the biggest reasons to get sober is for your health and safety. Any time you lose access to opioids while struggling with addiction, your body goes through withdrawal symptoms like upset stomach and insomnia that are difficult to manage without a medical professionals’ help.
If you suddenly resume taking opioids and take too much for your body to handle, you could die of an overdose. There’s also an ongoing risk of taking tainted counterfeit drugs, especially when you turn to the black market to deal with cravings.
Alcohol withdrawal can even be life-threatening if you stop drinking suddenly. Delirium tremens (DTs) can cause spikes in blood pressure, shaking, irregular heart rate, and hallucinations.
Long-term use of opioids and alcohol have harmful effects on your brain, liver, heart, nervous system, and other crucial systems.
By getting sober now with the help of a team of medical professionals, you can avoid potential catastrophes later and heal your body. Getting sober may seem daunting at first, but it becomes more manageable if you’re proactive and reach out to the right team.
Avoid Legal Troubles
Since substance abuse can impair your judgment, you could find yourself in legal trouble for drunk driving, public intoxication, or worse. Although some law enforcement agencies have become more understanding that substance abuse is a public health issue rather than a criminal one, they can still hold you accountable for your actions while under the influence.
Getting sober helps you start the year off on the right foot. By making sure you’re sober before summer parties begin, you can avoid potential problems while around others who engage in risky behaviors.
How to Get Started
Dealing with a substance abuse problem takes even more effort and professional support. However, the sooner you start, the sooner you can make a fresh start and live your life without drugs or alcohol interference. The dedicated team at Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers can support you through your journey with outpatient services that put you back in control of your life without interrupting your family life or career.
Native of Moldova, Dr. Zhitar is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine as well as Internal Medicine and completed his training at UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA in 2000.