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5 Things That Helped Me Boost My Addiction Recovery

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Making the decision to get clean is a very brave step. You may be scared about recovery, whatever treatment method you’ve chosen, and the truth is it can be difficult, but don’t worry, I’ve been there and got through it and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

I started drinking alcohol when I was just a child, and by the time I turned 14, I began to smoke marijuana. By 19, I was already on meth.

Recovery wasn’t easy — in fact, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But, despite all the ups and downs, I made it through, and now I can say I’m the best version of me I’ve ever been.

Although it was a long and very bumpy road, there were many things I did to take care of my emotional, mental and physical health that helped make it easier and even more effective thus, I recovered successfully from my drug and alcohol addiction. Here are five things that helped me boost my recovery process.

1. Writing

When I was 23, I faced two years in prison for drug-related charges. During that time, there wasn’t much I could do in my 10×8 cell and that boredom used to overwhelm me.

Writing helped me get through all those endless hours by doing something productive with my time. I got all my feelings out on the paper, and it helped me heal. Not long after getting out of prison, I relapsed and fortunately, I was able to go to a rehabilitation facility. There, I started writing letters to my family and myself and I kept a recovery journal where I kept track of my process.

A notebook can be a safe place to vent when you feel like you have no one to talk to. Also, writing your story can help you see how far along you’ve come and how many obstacles you’ve had to face, and give some perspective on the challenges you’re facing right now.

I believe confronting and expressing your feelings in the most sincere way is essential to the recovery process, and putting pen to paper can be a good way to outsource them and start healing.

2. Exercising

Exercising was one of the things that helped make my recovery process more bearable and even fun. While in rehab, I took up jogging, and many years from that day I still make time a few days a week to run in the mornings.

Personally, it helped me clear my mind — I only thought of how much further I could get. Besides, I always felt great after doing it, both physically and emotionally.

Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which gives you a similar feeling of happiness and well-being to the one you got from drugs or alcohol. In addition, it improves your overall health and it can boost your self-esteem, which can be a major benefit for people in recovery.

3. Eating healthy

Nutrition has a great impact on recovery. Abusing drugs and alcohol can cause damage to many organs in your body and affect your weight and muscle mass, and you may be malnourished and low on energy. Eating healthy can help you clean and heal your organism.

Since drugs alter the “reward system” in your brain, it’s likely the foods you want to eat are those high in sugar, fat, and carbs.

I remember there was nothing I wanted more during rehab than an In N’ Out cheeseburger and fries. But what your body really needs is “real food” — less sugar, less refined carbohydrates, fewer processed fats, more fiber, and more healthy fats. This means you should include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet, lean meats, fish, and lots of water.

You’ll be surprised when you find that staying away from junk food for a while can make you feel so much better during recovery.

4. Listening to inspiring music

I’ve always loved music, it has the power to motivate me and it has helped me through my darkest moments. Music can have a great impact on your emotions and your mood. Think about it, when you listen to a sad song, even if you’re happy at the time, it can bum you out even if it’s just for a moment. Same goes the other way when you’re feeling down, listening to positive, inspiring music can lift your spirits.

Listening to music definitely helped me boost my addiction recovery since it kept me busy and focused on the lyrics of the songs, which gave me motivation and empowerment to overcome the obstacles I was faced with in that time of my life. Now that I am fully recovered, music is still very important to me. I still use it as a source of happiness and inspiration.

5. Positive thinking

Your mind is a powerful thing, and your thoughts can have the ability to configure your behavior and impact the way you experience the world. Though positive thinking may not be the solution to every problem in life, it can be a great help.

I know it’s hard to keep your mind from negative thoughts and feelings when you’re in recovery. I used to feel guilty about my past for making my parents struggle, and I felt angry and resented myself for my addiction. But then I realized there was no point in worrying about the past since there was nothing I could do to change it. It took some effort, but I started thinking more positively, focusing on what I could do in the present to make way for a better future.

Whenever you catch yourself thinking negatively, don’t indulge in those thoughts and immediately change them for positive ones. It may be hard at first, but soon you’ll make it a habit of seeing the positive side in situations rather than the negative. Positive thinking can help you reduce your stress levels, and feel happier and more at ease during your recovery process.

Flash forward to right now. I’ve been sober for nine years, I co-own an online business and I’m happy with who I am and what I do. Though recovery can be hard and it requires hard continuous work, the results are completely worth it.

These five tips made my process somewhat easier and definitely more bearable. If you follow them, make sure to come back and leave a comment sharing your experience.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA‘s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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Thinkstock photo via nicomenijes.

Originally published: September 15, 2017
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