How I Got Sober and Clean
Monday, February 22 2016 Kira Lesley
I just celebrated a sobriety birthday, an event that always prompts reflection on how I got sober and clean in the first place. I do believe that a power greater than myself, a divine power, is ultimately responsible for me still being alive (Winehouse Death Due to Alcohol Poisoning and Tolerance). That being said, there are some practical components that have been vital to my getting sober and clean and staying that way.
Getting Clean and Sober Requires Staying Busy
When someone is trying to quit using drugs and alcohol, too much free time is a liability. We hear this so frequently that it can begin to lose meaning, but it is so true: you have to stay busy. This does not mean, however, that you have to be earning money, parenting, volunteering or otherwise accomplishing "productive" things 24 hours a day. Everyone has individual needs and capabilities, and the amount of activity that works best for one person might overwhelm another person. Knowing your limits is important, but so is not making excuses for failing to take positive action (Depression And Alcohol). Balance is crucial and usually only achievable through trial and error.
When I was getting sober, I was fortunate to be part of an outpatient therapeutic community that took up most of my time. I also attended a lot of 12-step meetings. Most of my time in that therapeutic community was spent with other young people, keeping tabs on each other and helping each other become stronger, more capable, more productive and considerate human beings. I don't know how much psychological "progress" was made, but at the very least, having something to fill my time and my brain that was not drugs or alcohol was crucial to my getting sober.
Treating Related Health Issues While Getting Sober and Clean
At the same time I was getting sober, I was also receiving treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression. Even though my mental health challenges have become so much easier over the last nine years, I still receive treatment. I opposed taking psychiatric medication for several years, but when my self-medicating nearly killed me, I decided it was time to try something different. (Not to mention it did not make sense to me that I would use mind-altering substances in the form of alcohol, pills, or cough syrup, but no prescriptions.) I believe it was the right choice for me, but I do not know if I will always need it. In addition to taking antidepressants, I have done cognitive behavioral therapy. Both of these treatment methods have not only helped with my OCD, but have enabled me to lead a full life in sobriety. Finding the right medication regimen and the right therapist to work with takes time, however, so I would caution people to be patient and persistent.
How I Got Sober and Clean by Working a Sobriety Program
I needed a recovery program to get sober, as I continue to need it now to stay sober. I know people who have gotten clean and sober without attending any kind of meetings, talking to any other addicts or alcoholics or using a support group of any kind. I don't know what makes the difference, but I needed direction and guidance and people who had been where I was and recovered to help me and offer hope. There are many positive and useful aspects of recovery programs and I know much more about some programs than others. But as I look back on nine years I have been blessed to live clean and sober, the element that comes to the fore is hope. In those early days of my sobriety, talking with, and hearing from, other recovering addicts and alcoholics who told me they'd been where I was and they'd gotten better, was a gift of hope I could not bestow on myself. If you're reading this now from a place of hopelessness, please remember, as long as there is life, there is hope.