Being new to sobriety and the rooms, you are going to hear a whole lot of new phrases, slogans, suggestions, and what sounds like “rules”. If you are anything like I am, you probably don’t like being told what to do, which is why many people leave before the miracles happen. If you are just coming in or coming back in, a lot of these suggestions are there to help you get back to sanity.
So here are some tips on what to take to heart, how to stay sober, and how to have that spiritual awakening people talk about.
1. Go on and get you that sponsor
You hear it all the time because it is crucial. I know, I know, it’s hard to trust people and you don’t want to have to answer to someone. Or maybe you feel too shy to ask the person if they will sponsor you.
Do it anyway.
We don’t get a sponsor so that someone has control over our lives. We get a sponsor because they have been through the steps, they have been freed of their obsession to drink and get high, and they live productive and healthy lives. WE do not know how to do these things, so THEY teach us what they know. It’s that simple. Your sponsor doesn’t have to be your best friend, they just have to have been through all 12 steps and have the time and willingness to take you through yours.
2. Work the steps as soon as you can
That being said, don’t sit on your fourth step. Don’t overthink the 3rd step. Stop stressing about doing everything perfectly, so that you end up not doing them at all. Just do them. They are, in the grand scheme of pain we have put ourselves through, pretty chill.
Yes, they are deadly serious and will actually save your life, but the only one you have to do perfectly is the first one. The rest, you’ll get better the more you do them. If you do not believe that working your steps will relieve you of your obsession to use, try them out first.
3. Try to get some good sleep
In the first few months, try to refrain from binge-watching the office until 2 am, just go to bed. Have a hard time shutting your brain off? Read a book, listen to a guided meditation on youtube, or create a nightly bedtime ritual.
For me, I watch my shows until a certain time, then I was my face, brush my teeth, and read a few pages of a book. I do a 10th step inventory (you’ll learn about that later), and I do a minute or two of deep breathing. I had to force this routine into existence, but my brain and body just know it’s time for bed and I never really have a hard time falling asleep anymore.
Getting good sleep is beneficial to all of our thought processes, how our metabolism works, how we interact with others, etc.
4. Get an easy Job
I don’t care if you were a crack dealer or a business executive during your using, humble yourself with your first job in recovery. Don’t worry about making the most money, you’ll get there eventually. Just get an easy going job that doesn’t make you hate your life.
A low-stress job allows you to float back into life with some level of responsibility, but without the crazy hours. It might take a little while to settle into the new routine of self-care, meetings, sponsorship time, and whatever responsibilities you have to meet in your living situations.
5. Make Friends with Sober People
I don’t know why so many newcomers feel weird about making sober friends. The way I see it is, out of everyone in the world, the people in these rooms probably get me on a much deeper level. They have felt what I’ve felt, been through what I’ve been through, lost their minds, their families, their friends, and have come out the other side to tell the tale.
Those are the people I always wanted to be around, the people that got me, but in my previous life, it was always I was better or I was worse. In here, I’m just another bozo on the bus who gets it.
6. Go to meetings where people share GOOD things
In many cities, there are hundreds of different meetings a week. For newcomers, it can be pretty enticing to want to go to the meetings where all the other young, hip crowd goes, rather than the lunchtime brunch bunch where the old retired people go.
However, next time you go to a nighttime meeting, really try to pay attention to the message. Was it mostly people with not a lot of time talking about their problems? Did it sound more like a group therapy session than a meeting on how to stay sober?
It is so important that newcomers hear the message of how the program WORKS, not about how the halfway house sucks, their baby momma/daddy drama, etc. If you WANT to stay sober, you need to surround yourself with people who are doing the deal. Go to the brunch bunch meetings for a few weeks and see if you don’t start to love it.
7. For real, WAIT on the relationship
This is probably redundant because you are going to do it anyway, as most of us do, but let me spare you the surprise. It’s probably not going to work out, one of you is going to get hurt, “the game” still sucks, and you are still crappy at setting boundaries.
There, I said it. As someone who has first hand experienced and witnessed newcomer relationships explode into fiery pieces, I’m going to be honest and assume you probably already have your eye on someone.
My first sponsor told me, and I tell my sponsors, pain leads to growth, so if you want to rush your growth process via pain, go ahead and get into the relationship, but when it is all said and done, you better be ready to grow.