When people become sober after a period of addiction they will usually experience a great sense of freedom. They may even believe that all their problems in life are behind them. This type of unrealistic expectation is understandable, but if the individual persists with this belief it can lead them to suffering. This is because in order to get the most out of their new life they will need to put in a great deal of work – as the saying goes, you only get out of life what you put into it. Becoming sober puts the individual in the best position to get the most out of life, but it is up to them to turn their aspirations into reality.
There are some good reasons for why people should aim high in recovery including:
* The more reasons that the individual has to stay sober the more they will be willing to fight for their sobriety.
* The individual will have already suffered a great deal as a result of their addiction. They owe it to themselves to get the best possible life they can now.
* Sober people have a great deal to offer their friends, families, and communities. It benefits everyone when the individual makes the most of their potential.
* It leads to fulfillment and satisfaction in life.
* In order to build the best possible life the individual will need to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They will also have to make an effort to improve their mental and physical health.
* Those individuals who do well in recovery are an inspiration for those who are still struggling.
If people give up alcohol or drugs but fail to make any other significant changes to their life they are unlikely to get the most out of their new life. Giving up an addiction is certainly a wonderful start (in fact there can be no further progress without it), but it is often stated that recovery is a process and not an event. This means that once the individual escapes the substance abuse there will be plenty more work for them to do. If they fail to do this work they will end up settling for the bare minimum – they will fail to reach their potential and enjoy the kind of life they deserve.
If people aim low in recovery they are unlikely to get the most out of life. This is not to say that the individual needs to have many possessions or a stellar career in order to be successful – some individuals will find that the best possible life they can have does not necessarily involve these things. The dangers of accepting the bare minimum in recovery includes:
* If the individual fails to find satisfaction in their new life they may be tempted to return to substance abuse. This may mean that they never get another chance at sobriety.
* Some individuals will choose the bare minimum in recovery because they secretly want to sabotage their recovery – they are still ambivalent about sobriety. This means that they are just looking for the right justification so they can have an excuse to relapse.
* The fact that the individual is satisfied with so little is often because they are suffering from low self esteem. This lack of self worth can be a real stumbling block to find any type of comfort in sobriety.
* Some people end up suffering from dry drunk syndrome. This means that they are physically sober, but their life is much as it has always been – they can be full of anger and resentment and engage in all types of bad behavior.
* Those people who are not satisfied with their new life may be tempted to turn to other types of addiction. This can include such maladaptive behaviors as workaholism or exercise addiction.
* It is just a waste if people go to the trouble of getting sober yet fail to get the most out of their new life.
* It is moving away from the bare minimum that can give the individual real meaning and purpose in their life.
* It is dangerous for people to stop making progress in recovery because they can start to go backwards. By choosing the best possible life the individual is always pushing forward –even though it may sometimes feel as if they have taken a backward step.
In order to increase their chances of enjoying the best possible life in sobriety the individual should:
* Understand that there is no graduation day in recovery. So long as they are still breathing there are likely to be things they can improve upon – dealing with character flaws is a lifetime’s work.
* The individual should never put anything before their sobriety. This is because if they relapse they will likely lose everything anyway.
* The best way to approach life is with a beginner’s mind, and this means not allowing preconceived beliefs and knowledge to get in the way of learning new things. The individual should approach life with an open mind.
* It is best if people can chart their progress in recovery so as to ensure that they remain on track. One effective way of doing this is to maintain a daily journal – this can be also used for setting goals for the future.
* Many individuals have found that practices such as meditation are a wonderful asset in recovery. This is because it allows the individual to gain a better understanding of their internal landscape, and the things that drive them – mindfulness meditation is particularly good for this.
* Getting the most out of life is all about finding balance. This means having a mix of physical, mental, and spiritual activities in life.
* The most common regret that people have on their death bed is that they failed to spend enough time with family and friends. It is wise to always put human contact ahead of possessions and achievements because ultimately these things do not matter.
* Helping other people is one of the most rewarding things that anyone can do in recovery. Once the individual feels strong enough in sobriety they should try to help other people – this is not done out of a sense of duty but because it can be just so rewarding in itself.
* Facing failure is an inevitable part of being alive, and it is best if the individual looks upon these as a chance to grown. The only real failure is the person who gives up trying.
* In Alcoholics Anonymous they talk about how pain is the touchstone of growth. The good times in life are there to be enjoyed, but it is only really when people are in pain that they grow.
* If the individual faces each of problems that comes their way in life honestly, and tries the best they can, they will develop an increasing ability to cope with life. Eventually the person will become so good at this that they will enjoy serenity most of the time.
* If the individual is doing things that make them feel guilty it means they should stop doing these things. If they ignore their sense of guilt it will only lead them to misery.
* Many people have found that in order to get the most out of recovery they had to develop a greater connection with the spiritual. This does not mean that the individual needs to embrace any particular religion, and they don’t even have to believe in a god – they just need to be in awe of the mysterious inherent in the universe.