(We here are Here/Hear are quite aware of the mental health issues associated with addiction and recovery. That’s why we were ecstatic when Jill Anderson of www.overdosewatch.org approached us about writing a guest post. We hope to have more from her, as this is a great article on thriving after coming out of addiction. Let us know your thoughts, as always).
Navigating life after battling addiction is complicated. As rehabilitation experts point out, “Rebuilding a life after addiction isn’t easy. Addressing the physical and psychological issues that caused your substance abuse in the first place is an around-the-clock battle in many cases. Combined with the pressure of providing for your needs and those of your family, it can feel like too much to bear. To minimize stress and frustration that could threaten your sobriety, you must be patient, both with the process and with yourself.” But just because it’s not easy, doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Where Do You Fit In?
First and foremost, it’s important to find groups of people who can help you through the process, whether it’s Alcoholics Anonymous or other support groups. According to Psych Central, this is the support you need so that you have someone “you can turn to when you are tempted [who will provide] a healthy alternative to succumbing to triggers.” And while it’s imperative that you surround yourself with healthy friends and family, it’s equally important to know that you are not alone in your struggle.
How Can You Find a Job?
Many people in recovery feel like they will never be able to enter the workforce again, but the truth is they are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The rehabilitation clause under the act says that employers cannot refuse employment to anyone just because they are in treatment or recovery from substance abuse. They are actually not even allowed to ask. Obviously, this does not include active drug users who can be denied employment for a positive drug screening.
Replacing Your Addiction
There is convincing research that suggests that those who participate in regular exercise are less likely to use drugs. While scientists are still trying to figure out the connection, Richard Brown, Butler Hospital director of addictions research, has his own theory. He believes that exercise and sporting groups could help fill the void that abandoning an old lifestyle can leave. In addition to the mental and emotional support that exercise provides, it can also help your body start to recover from the damage you may have done as a result of prolonged abuse.
Repairing the broken relationships caused by addiction isn’t easy. It takes patience, understanding and time. Spouses feel cheated on because you chose a substance over them. Children feel abandoned for the same reason. And friends, just like your family, are uncertain of whether or not they can trust you. The important thing is to take responsibility and to let the people around you work through their own emotions in their own time.
Nourish Your Body
While a person is abusing drugs or alcohol, it’s very rare that they pay attention to their diet. They usually end up malnourished and often with tissue damage to the liver or stomach. During recovery is the time to begin replenishing and repairing your body with the proper nutrients it needs. In fact, failing to do so could result in your body craving the unhealthy substances even more. Some people find it helpful to talk to a dietitian during this phase, but to start, make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and follow a well-balanced diet.
It’s possible that your life will be different than it was before your addiction, but that doesn’t mean it has to be worse. In fact, with a little effort and the help of family and friends, you could very well be on your way to a better life than you’ve ever known. Just be sure to practice forgiveness with yourself and others, and take care of your mind and body. The road to recovery is often a long one, but you may find that you can enjoy the journey and learn some valuable lessons along the way.