Tips for Staying Clean and Sober in an Unhealthy Environment

There is an old saying: “Spend enough time in a barbershop and you will end up with a haircut”.

The same goes for recovery from addiction. The fact is that once a person makes a commitment to recover from drugs and alcohol, they must also make a commitment to distance themselves from the people, places, and things that accompanied their drug and alcohol use. It can sometimes seem challenging, particularly if living with someone that is still active in their addiction. As with life, recovery calls for a series of adjustments. Actions can be taken even in the most difficult circumstances to reinforce recovery.

When someone accepts the reality of their addiction, recovery becomes a comfort in any environment, even if a healthy living space is not available at the time. How? Well, here are a few tips:

New Behaviors

  • Avoid discussion about situations that romanticize drug use.
  • Change mode of living in any healthy way possible. If you hadn’t done so before, have breakfast every day, even if it’s just a smoothie. You will be reminded first thing in the morning that you are choosing to stay clean and sober.
  • If certain music, paraphernalia, and activities are things that were present during active addiction, change them to something positive, calming and healthy.  
  • If friends or family members are using in front of you and you feel uncomfortable, get to a private space and call someone in recovery to help you stay grounded until you can make other arrangements.
  • Learn to exercise and take walks. Breathing is an essential part of stress reduction and stress is a major trigger for relapse as many in recovery can attest.
  • Keep recovery literature with you at all times. Read and become familiar with the stories of others who have escaped the clutches of addiction. Take their inspiration with you.

Take advantage of today’s technology. There are ongoing recovery groups on social media. Remember that you can sign up with an alias. Just create a Yahoo email account for privacy and use those credentials for social media sites.

The first 30 days of recovery are the most difficult. The upside is, there is usually a “Pink Cloud” effect because of the joy of new found freedom from chemical dependency and the release of endorphins through the brain that were absent due to chemical poisoning. Stick close to others in recovery and build a foundation for yourself to remain clean and sober. A thorough understanding of the damage that addiction causes to the mind, body, and spirit is paramount in helping stay clean and sober. Addiction is a very serious and permanent condition. It will not go away over time. Anyone with an addiction problem who returns to substance abuse will always end up back where they started. Those that remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol, commonly live full and meaningful lives. A great way to make up for bad behavior during active using is to remain sober. It is called a “Living Amends". It is a chance to give to others and make a difference in the world. “Give it away to keep it” is an important point to remember for continued freedom from drugs and alcohol. Living a spiritual, unselfish life is the key to escaping relapse.

Life can be challenging sometimes. Understand that recovery can be achieved and maintained in spite of any circumstances. It’s a simple matter of choice. Do not put conditions on your sobriety and do not live in fear. This can be achieved by learning to live in the moment. This is an ability that is developed over time with the practice of meditation, relaxation, laughter and positive thinking.

Beyond addiction

Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas for Those in Addiction Recovery

We all know someone who’s tricky to shop for around the holidays. This is especially true if that person also happens to be in addiction recovery. You’ll want to choose a gift they will enjoy, while also encouraging their continued sobriety.

 The rapidly-approaching holidays can be a difficult time for those in recovery. There may be unexpected triggers and emotions that test your loved one’s ability to remain sober. How can you find the perfect gift that matches their interests while also being sensitive and supportive of their decision to make healthier choices?

Here are some health-promoting gift ideas for loved ones who are in recovery this year:

Guitar Lessons 

Studies have shown that music is an excellent complementary therapy for men, women, and adolescents who are in addiction recovery. From drumming to singing, from dancing to playing guitar, there are many ways that your loved one could work music into his or her recovery.

One way you could help is by purchasing your loved one a guitar or some guitar lessons. If you’re not sure where, to begin with, lessons, online lessons are a convenient option.

It’s easy to purchase these lessons through a website so your loved one can learn from the comfort of their own home at times which work best for them. There are several options available for online guitar lessons these days, and lots of great instructors to work with.

Personalized Gifts 

A gift celebrating sobriety is never a bad idea. Consider a “from this day forward” engraved keychain or a piece of jewelry with the date your loved one decided to start the journey to sobriety.

You might also consider a gift (such as a mug, notebook, or even framed Etsy artwork) that features the Serenity Prayer. This prayer can be a helpful reminder of letting go and finding acceptance, even for those who are not in addiction recovery.

Faith-Based Gifts 

Speaking of prayer, recent studies have shown that faith in a higher power can actually reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression while improving our overall quality of life. Additionally, scientific research has shown that religious faith or spirituality helps those in addiction recovery stay on the sober track.

Why not celebrate your loved one’s faith and support their recovery with a religious or spiritual gift? To promote healing and recovery, you might consider one of these spiritual gifts, one of the many beautiful, handmade gifts available on Etsy, or a journal or diary with a faith-based quote on the cover.

Yoga and Meditation

Yoga and meditation are great complementary therapies for addiction treatment. Extensive studies have shown the healing powers of yoga, meditation, prayer, and other mindful, spiritual practices. In fact, these skills are often included in many private addiction rehabilitation centers.

Mindful practices such as yoga and meditation can help those in recovery learn to better cope with triggers, cravings, and difficult feelings so they can stay clean, sober, and healthy. You might gift your loved one a class package at a local studio or a DVD that will guide them to serenity right at home.

The upcoming holiday season can stir up difficult emotions in all of us. Healthy holiday gifts like the ones listed above can help your loved one celebrate the hurdles they’ve overcome in order to get clean and sober. More importantly, these loving gifts are a tangible reminder that they have your support every step of the way throughout their journey to addiction recovery.

Written by Caleb Anderson of RecoveryHope

Helping people with substance abuse disorders and their families.

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Howlingly Good Games To Play At Your Sober Halloween Party

Ah, the cool final night of October is fast approaching-- the time when jack-o-lanterns grin from ear-to-ear and creepy skeletons peek at us from their coffins for the thrill of a spook. You yearn to go all out and throw a chillingly good Halloween party, but you’re a sobering addict, and you’re not quite sure how you can celebrate this -- the darkest of all holidays -- without an offering of spiked drinks galore.   

The truth is you can put together a terrific Halloween bash without having to serve a drop of alcohol at all. With the right planning, décor, and bloody-enough set of plastic fangs, you can ensure plenty of fun and good times for all guests attending. Don’t believe it? Wrap your mind around these four howlingly good Halloween-themed games you can organize for your party:

1. Throw a Pumpkin Carving Competition

Carving a creative face out of a pumpkin is a fine art and the penultimate Halloween tradition. Why not pit your jack-o-lantern-loving guests against each other for a ghoulishly great prize? For your sober bash, set out a reusable cloth sack filled with small to medium-sized “virgin” pumpkins (of a size that party guests can carry with ease), offering them an array of carving knives next to seed collection bowls on a large table. Invite your guests to carve their own unique designs of jack-o-lanterns and the most popular one wins the prize for the contest. Not unlike dyeing eggs for Easter or decorating a Christmas tree, this competition suits the theme of the party to a “t”.

2. Host a Costume Competition

Because it’s the time of year where you can dress up as any famous personality or character you want, some people will go all out and show up in an intricately put together costume. Why not invite these die-hard costume dressers, and all others seeking to put on a different face, to come to your party? Inform them beforehand that there will be a costume contest they will all be automatically competing in. At some point in the evening, have your guests pick who they believe has the best costume, tally up the votes, and give out the prizes to the winners. To provide variety to the whole contest affair, give out awards for most innovative costume, best couples costume, scariest costume, and so on.

3. Host A Murder Mystery Dinner

For hosts who are looking to organize something smaller and more intimate, with just a small set of friends, host a murder mystery dinner. The idea is to assign a role to every guest sitting at the mystery table. Throughout the meal, players must guess who the murderer is, and his target secret victim. The theme could be based on the board game Clue or on the show Pretty Little Liars.  

4. Have a Scary Story Segment

In the past, as a kid sitting around a campfire at night eating marshmallows, you probably exchanged scary stories with your fellow campmates that scared the heck out of you. Wouldn’t it be in the Halloween spirit to have your guests scare each other while swapping scary stories? The activity will trigger laughs and plenty of spine-chilling reactions, that will entertain all those who listen in to the scary stories circle being held at the center of your party.

A Final Thought
It takes courage to throw an alcohol-free Halloween party at your home for the first time as you actively seek to remain sober for life. As in your mind, you may still be sensitive to the connection between festive partying and alcohol imbibing. However, by only inviting teetotaler friends and people who live healthy lifestyles and support your goal to remain sober, you are granting yourself permission to have a go at celebrating a fun holiday, without illicit substances being present. Though decidedly different from alcohol-infused parties of your past, you should still have a splendid happy time at your sober party and be glad you went out on a limb and exercised that festive side of yourself to your entire network of friends.


Caleb Anderson co-created RecoveryHope to help people with substance abuse disorders and their families.



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