Staying Sober & Happy
It can be all too easy to think of the recovery journey as one long slog devoid of joy or fun. After all, at the center of sobriety is a big list of “do nots”—as in: “Do not have a drink with your friends.” Or: “Do not go to parties where attendees are likely to be using drugs.” Or: “Do not return to places or situations that you heavily associate with drug or alcohol use.”
All those “do nots” can weigh heavily on a person. You might feel as though you are constantly in danger of breaking this or that rule. Or you might feel as though you have to choose to be sober or choose to be happy and carefree.
But that is a false dilemma. You absolutely do not have to choose between sobriety and happiness. You can—and should—have both.
Choosing to Be Sober & Happy
Let’s look at some ways you can pursue happiness while maintaining your sobriety.
Surround Yourself With Positivity
You already know that a strong support system is important for people in recovery. Ideally, that support system will be made up of fun-loving people who enjoy life and being together. If you only surround yourself with people who are grimly making it through daily life, that attitude is likely to rub off.
Find the people who can find the good in even the most challenging situations—and lean into the positivity so that you get into the habit of looking for the good wherever it can be found. You will likely find yourself cultivating a spirit of gratitude, and that spirit can underpin greater feelings of happiness.
Lessen the Impact of Stress
It is probably impossible to completely eliminate stress from our lives. But for a person in recovery, finding ways to reduce and manage stress is a path toward greater contentment (truthfully, this is probably true for everyone!). But how can you do that?
Get in the practice of being willing to say “no” to projects, invitations, or activities that add more stress than happiness to your life. You may have to have an honest conversation with your boss, your friends, or your family in order to set some boundaries. Similarly, try to stay present in the moment (this is the central idea of mindfulness) and remember you can really only do one thing at a time. We tend to feel more stressed when we let our to-do list overwhelm us. And make sure you set aside time for enjoyment and rest as part of your schedule—not as something that you’ll squeeze in if you can find the time.
Recalibrate the Way You Think About Fun
There is a pretty good chance that at one time you associated drug or alcohol use with the idea of having fun. In the early days of sobriety, you might find yourself wondering if you will ever have fun again. The trick here is to dive into new activities and adventures so that you can find what brings happiness and a sense of fun back into your life.
This might involve picking up (or returning to) a new hobby. It might mean finally taking the time to take a class or two about something you are really interested in. It might mean going to see a concert featuring a kind of music you are unfamiliar with or eating at a restaurant that serves a kind of food you have never tried. Whatever you find engrossing and engaging is perfect—which means you don’t have to think of this as a “guilty pleasure.” Instead, just think of it as something that provides pleasure and happiness. There is no need to feel guilty about that!
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, We Would Be Happy To Help
If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, odds are you are not in a happy place in your life. At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we are committed to helping you reclaim your life by reclaiming your sobriety. We will create a personalized treatment plan that takes your specific situation and needs into account. And if there are co-occurring mental health disorders that are contributing to your substance use disorder (and negatively impacting your happiness), we have the expertise, experience, and compassion necessary to effectively address them.
Remember: You do not have to choose between sobriety and happiness in your life. All of us at Wooded Glen Recovery Center will happily help you get on a path that includes both.