Getting sober is scary, but do you know what is even scarier? Continuing to live a life fueled by addiction, mental illness, and destruction. If you are in the rooms by your own accord, chances are, you are probably well aware of how bad your addiction has become. If you feel as though you have been forced here against your will, either via your parents, the courts, police, etc., at least try to pick up with you can in the meantime.
Either way, being a newcomer in the rooms can be intimidating and uncomfortable. Here we are, facing a potential drug or alcohol addiction, surrounded by a room full of strangers discussing their fears, their joys, and really opening up with each other. For those of us who made it our business to keep other people away from us, this is the last place we ever thought we would end up.
However, in order to stay sober, and to actually feel happy, there are some simple tips that can help ease the process and get you back on your feet a lot faster.
Go To Meetings
Coffee, reading, chatting, helping clean up, and introducing yourself to people. It all comes with the territory. It may not seem important or vital as a newcomer to make it to meetings until you hear someone tell your story at one. That’s when it clicks for many of us. We may try to compare ourselves with others, saying we weren’t as bad or we were worse, until one day it happens. We are sitting in a meeting and someone shares exactly what we need to hear, a story that sounds just like our own, or a pain specific to something we have been through.
This is usually when our ears begin to perk up a bit, we become engaged, and we realize that this is where we are supposed to be.
It is so important for newcomers to attend meetings regularly because, after all, that is WHY meetings were created! According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the chapter called Bill’s story, the authors state, “We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek.”
Besides your sobriety being the main reason why you should go to meetings, here are a few more reasons why meetings are important:
- Getting to know sober people
- Allowing people to get to know you
- Becoming accountable to the group (through a service commitment)
- Provides perspective, clarity, or just a break from the outside world
- Provides insight on how the steps and the program have helped others
Get a Sponsor, Work the Steps
Here’s the thing, you can go to a meeting every hour of every day for the rest of your life, and still go out on a relapse. THE MOST important part of getting and staying sober is working the steps with a sponsor, not how many meetings you make a week. If you are asking yourself why you can’t just work the steps by yourself unless you want to do it the old fashion way and take your 4th step inventory to a priest or spiritual advisor to go through with you, having a sponsor is the only way.
Having a sponsor is vital for so many reasons, and everyone sponsors a little differently. It is important to seek out a sponsor that you admire for good reasons. In other words, while picking the person with the fanciest jewelry and the freshest shoes isn’t the worst decision in the world, you might be better off choosing someone who has had a spiritual experience or awakening as a result of working the steps.
After all, a sponsor cannot pass anything on to you that they haven’t got themselves. If they haven’t worked the steps, then keep it moving.
Working the steps is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the program and is not meant to be a form of punishment or burdensome homework. The steps show you patterns and shortcomings in your life that have either led you to addiction or have perpetuated it. The steps, when worked through with a sponsor, show you where in your life you can improve, and how to move forward from the chaos of your past.
Pick up a Commitment
One of the beautiful things about the program is that no one runs the show. It is a team effort consisting of the volunteered time and energy of people whose lives have been saved by it. So to be a constructive member of the fellowship, we get involved in service to give back.
The commitment we pick up as a newcomer should be something light, it could be just making coffee, setting up the chairs, emptying out the ashtrays, or saying hello to people at the door. Not only does service keep us accountable to attend that meeting, but it creates a space for people to get to know us, to expect to see us there, and for us to make some solid sober supports.
Hang out With Good People
In the beginning, it can often be easy to get distracted by people, places, and things. If we continue to do what we always did, we will always get what we always got. In other words, if you choose to hang around the people who don’t really want sobriety, don’t care to work the steps, and focus on all the wrong things, chances are you will too.
This is why the previous three tips are so important. Going to meetings, being accountable to a good group, having a sponsor to help us see the path, and meeting sober supports through service connects us to a healthy and thriving community of fellowship members. These are the people who will really have our backs, and will hold us accountable and will be a shoulder to cry on when we need it.
Sure, they may not always be the most popular or flashy, but if they have some experience in the program and a feeling of serenity in their lives, that’s worth way more than gold for a newcomer to the program.
Find a Healthy Hobby
One of the biggest reasons for relapse is boredom. It sounds crazy, but for us, too much downtime head leads to wild thoughts, stirring up trouble, and resorting back to old behaviors. One of the best ways to curb boredom is to find yourself a healthy hobby.
Some people will often pick up old hobbies that they lost during their addictions, while others go out of their way to try new and exciting things that they never had the time for when they were using.
If you are having a hard time figuring out what hobby you might like, here are several to try out!
- Drawing, painting, sculpture
- Gardening, Cooking, Baking
- Running, surfing, hiking, bike riding, skateboarding, etc.
- Musical Instrument
- Bowling, Roller Derby, paintball, archery
- Volunteering at animal shelters
Having hobbies is important because it gives us a creative outlet to find some confidence, creativity, and peace. A lot of people find that their hobby becomes a sort of meditative practice for them after a while, which allows them to tune out the rest of the world and become enveloped in something that fuels their mind.
If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol and if you’ve tried but failed to kick the habit, you may need professional help. Addiction is tough to beat by itself due to the pain of withdrawal and a lack of support, but you can find both at Stout Street’s reputable treatment center. Call us today and begin your journey to sobriety.