We have devoted a couple of previous blog entries to the potential benefits of keeping a journal in recovery. We have outlined various kinds of journals—gratitude, goal-oriented, traditional diary, and more—and encouraged you to make journaling work for you in whatever way seems most useful and comfortable. 

Still and all, you may have read those entries, gotten yourself a notebook and a pen…and discovered you had no real sense of how to get started.

Sometimes what folks need is a prompt—a suggestion for a topic that can get you started. If that sounds like it would be helpful, we have good news: We have several prompts to offer.

Prompt No. 1: What are some specific ways in which my sobriety improves my quality of life?

It can be helpful to remind yourself of some of the many reasons sobriety is better than continued drug or alcohol use. And these examples of improvements in your life don’t have to be huge. For example, you could jot down something as simple as noticing the beauty of the sunrise—something you may not have ever noticed while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Noting in your recovery journal the small ways your life is better can help you see the true benefits of maintaining your sobriety.

Prompt No. 2: Which relationships in my life support my sobriety and which are potentially problematic for me?

Having a strong support system of family members and friends is one of the best ways to shore up your sobriety. Knowing who you can count on when the going gets particularly tough, knowing who will hold you accountable, even knowing who is happy to hang out on a Friday night with no alcohol or drugs involved—those relationships are key to your recovery.

On the other side of the coin, knowing the people in your life who are toxic to you in one way or another is equally important. Making plans to lessen their presence in your life is key.

Your recovery journal is a good place to consider the benefits and liabilities of your various relationships.

Prompt No. 3: What activities do I truly enjoy and how can I spend more time doing them?

Stress is an enemy of sobriety, and so it is crucial that you have a hobby or two that can help you relax and reset. But many of us give short shrift to relaxation—or even feel guilty when we are not busy all of the time.

Your recovery journal is a great place to remind yourself of the activities you already enjoy and to brainstorm about other things you might try. It is also a good place to think through how you might get more relaxation into your busy schedule.

Prompt No. 4: Besides maintaining my sobriety, what is my biggest goal? What’s the first thing I need to do to start working toward it?

Goal setting can be beneficial for most anyone, but for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, it can be particularly helpful. After all, when you are working toward a goal that is important to you, you give yourself additional motivation to hang on to your sobriety.

But as the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Your recovery journal gives you a place to name a goal and name the first step you need to take to reach it—and then the second step and so on until your goal is in sight.

Prompt No. 5: How can I pay forward the help and support I have experienced in recovery?

A spirit of service and gratitude might inspire you to help others in your community—and it turns out that doing so also provides a boost to your recovery efforts.

In your recovery journal, you can spend some time considering the people and causes that are important to you—and work out ways you might be able to contribute. Exploring what you value on the page, you might unearth something you hadn’t ever thought of before. That could lead to really rewarding opportunities to do good. You will also be doing well in terms of supporting your sobriety.

These are Just a Few Prompt Possibilities

We hope these prompts might help you get started with a recovery journal. Of course, these suggestions just scratch the service of all the things you might explore on the page. These examples might help you think of prompts of your own. You might also consider asking your therapist, your sponsor, or others in your recovery meetings to suggest possible topics to explore. And who knows? We might devote a future blog entry or two to sharing more prompts.

If You are Struggling, You Should Move Promptly Toward Treatment

The right time to get treatment for a substance use disorder is always right now. Getting treatment promptly means reclaiming your sobriety—and your life—sooner.

At Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Indiana, we offer personalized, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. If you need help, this is your prompt to reach out so that we can help.