6 Tips for Resisting Temptation During Recovery
by Sara Stringer
Everybody says that admitting you have an addiction is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. Guess what: getting sober and living life in recovery isn’t exactly a picnic in comparison. It turns out that the work of sobriety and recovery is pretty darn hard too. Temptation to cheat “just a little bit” or “just this once” is constant and everywhere.
The last thing you want to do is undo all of the hard work you put into getting sober. You made sure to choose a women’s alcohol rehab program because you knew that alcohol affects women differently than it does men. You’ve been dedicated to working the steps and attending your meetings. Even so, sometimes it feels like not reaching for the bottle is the hardest thing you do all day.
The trick is part self-discipline and part distraction. If you want to stay sober and keep your recovery going, you’re going to need both. Here are some tips to help you with each of them:
1. Count to Ten
This sounds almost naively simple, but you’d be surprised at how well it can work when the temptation starts to feel overwhelming. Channel your inner Kimmy Schmidt: you can survive anything for ten seconds, right?
2. Create a Schedule
Temptation is going to be the worst when you feel like you don’t have anything to do or you’re not sure what to do next. Set up a schedule for yourself to follow so that you always know what you’re supposed to be focusing on or doing during the day and evening. This way you are both totally in charge of your day but also not at the mercy of having to figure out how to fill time as it unfolds in front of you.
3. To-Do Lists
If you’re not sure that you can commit to a schedule just yet, that’s okay! Start with a simple to-do list. Write one out the night before of everything you have to get done during the next day and then the next day, you just have to follow it. Pro tip: write down even seemingly obvious items like “take a shower” and “eat dinner.” Being able to cross things off helps you gain momentum. You might even find that a schedule habit starts to form by itself.
4. Stay Busy
There’s a reason the cliche “idle hands are the devil’s playthings” exists: because it’s true. Temptation is most likely to surface when you don’t have anything else to focus on. To combat this, it’s good to take up a hobby or two that you can work on during your free time. These hobbies don’t have to be intricate or complicated. Even something like coloring in one of those trendy adult coloring books can be helpful and soothing.
5. Clean it Out
During your last few days of treatment have a trusted friend or loved one go through your home and office top to bottom and get rid of any remnants of your addiction. Have them take any alcohol or other drugs (and related paraphernalia) out and throw it away. Make them be thorough: open every box, look in every bag, on every door frame, in every vent, etc. This way there won’t be temptations within arm’s reach when you get home or go back to work. Yes, you could do this yourself, but having someone else do it will help resist the excuse of “I don’t want it to go to waste” and ruining your recovery by using again.
6. Sober Friends
When you are first out of recovery, it is important to totally abstain from the problematic places and people who supported your addiction. You might even want to spend some time getting used to being home and going back to work before you take on any social engagements. When you first start spending time with friends again, encourage them to hang out with you at home or in coffee shops or other places where the substance of your addiction is not readily available. Then, later, as you “graduate” to being able to be in a bar or other location without feeling like you need to join in with others who are drinking, it’s good to take along a friend or two who will also be abstaining. For many, the hardest temptation to resist is being the only person in a social setting who doesn’t imbibe. Knowing there are other sober people you can focus on will be tremendously helpful.
There is no doubt about it: staying sober and committed to your recovery is not going to be easy. The longer you stick with it, however, the less insistent those temptations will feel.
About the Author
Sara Stringer is freelance writer who enjoys writing about natural health alternatives. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining an active lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.