Sobriety is not a single-time choice. Rather, it’s a decision that is made every day, sometimes multiple times per day, and sometimes it’s very difficult to say no when faced with drugs or alcohol. And when friends or even family members are already engaging in self-destructive drug or alcohol practices, it can become especially hard for someone to abstain from shared substance use.
Even when peer pressure isn’t a factor, substance use habits can easily compromise freedom and self-confidence. And health consequences from even short-term substance use can adversely affect brain functionality, disrupt hormone balance and hamper decision-making. Learning to break negative substance use habits, regardless of the environment, is critical in maintaining sobriety and distancing yourself from the damage that drugs and alcohol can impose.
1. Have a response ready before you need it
Sometimes, you might be offered alcohol or drugs from someone you know. Even though it’s impossible to identify when during the day you’ll need to be ready to refuse substance use, you can always have a response ready to go. If you anticipate having to respond to someone’s invitation to use substances with them, here are a few ideas to help:
1) Introduce a family member into the situation. If you respond by saying “my wife wouldn’t be happy” or “my dad would be really upset,” you can shift the consequence to discipline that would occur as a result of their invitation.
2) Cite future plans. With a response of “I’m supposed to meet someone else in a few minutes,” you’re only implying that you want to remain sober for that interaction.
3) Be more direct. If you’re comfortable being more direct with your refusal, feel free to do so. Responses like “I don’t have time for it” or “I have a family member who died from this stuff” quickly makes the situation more serious.
2. Have other activities standing by
Here’s one reason why substance use habits are so difficult to break: temptation can arise at any moment during the day. Even when substances aren’t offered to you by friends, family members or peers, you could still feel the desire to drink or use drugs without outside influence. When these moments happen, it’s useful to have reserve actions ready to go. Quickly pursuing another activity can help shift your focus, and restore healthy action.
It’s always easier to say no to something, when you can say yes to something else. Here are a few alternative activities you can pursue when you’re facing substance use:
1) Take a walk outside. Getting outside for a quick walk, even for a few minutes, is massively helpful in clearing your head and resetting your focus.
2) Call a friend. Don’t allow yourself to fight through substance use temptations alone. Call a friend or go visit someone you know and trust, to get outside of your own head and turn down substance use.
3) Journal for even a few minutes. Rather than fleeing from your feelings, journaling provides a safe, secure outlet for you to document everything you’re feeling, thinking and experiencing in real time. Keeping a record of your fight against substance use also allows you to reference past journal entries, for the encouragement you need on difficult days.
3. Recognize and avoid your triggers
One of the first steps in putting some distance between yourself and substance use habits is simply taking the time to identify the events that commonly trigger drug or alcohol practices in the first place. Perhaps feelings of isolation or loneliness work to trigger substance use. Maybe mental health challenges or a disorder make drug or alcohol use more difficult to manage. No matter what leads you toward substance abuse, being able to recognize your triggers is a critical step forward in pursuing lasting freedom.
Once you’ve identified the events or actions that contribute to your substance use habits, it’s time to take the steps toward mitigating or eliminating those triggers altogether. Sometimes, you’ll be able to remove triggers completely, perhaps by changing items like your diet or sleep schedule. But often, triggers during your day cannot be avoided. If essential parts of your day are leading you into drug and alcohol use, it’s likely time to introduce an expert into the situation.
That’s where licensed healthcare professionals can make all the difference in your life, helping you navigate life’s difficulties without slipping back into painful substance use habits. Men and women seeking freedom from substance use practices have found new beginnings from Real Recovery since we first opened. Our sober living facilities help you achieve the separation you need from your triggers, while you recover your freedom alongside other individuals pursuing similar goals.
Call (855) 363-7325 today, or reach Real Recovery online today, to take your first definitive step away from the painful reality of substance use and toward the life you know you deserve.