People often have this idea that addiction treatment is like going to the hospital. You go in, you get cured, and you go back to your normal life. In reality, it’s more complicated than that. We’re not machines that keep on going once a broken part is replaced. We’re complex organisms that grow and change and interact with our environments in an astounding number of ways. That means addiction recovery isn’t so much about a one-time fix as it is about learning a better way to live in the world. Here are a few important principles for living a sustainable life in recovery.
Don’t neglect the fundamentals.
Whatever you want to do in life requires relatively good health. If you feel terrible all the time, you’re always sick in bed, you have no energy, your life will feel pretty limited and your happiness will suffer. So always prioritize taking care of yourself. Eat healthy, nutritious whole foods. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise. You can skimp on these for a few days, or maybe a few weeks if you’re young, but eventually, it will catch up to you in a big way. Making exercise, sleep, and healthy eating part of your regular routine forms a strong basis for everything else, including your mental health. Your mood will be better, you’re self-control will be stronger, and you will feel like you can deal with whatever life throws at you.
What we feed gets stronger.
Our brains, like our bodies, adapt to what we repeatedly make them do. When you get in the habit of paying attention to certain things, of thinking certain ways, or of feeling certain emotions, those connections get stronger and stronger. We hardly notice it from day to day, but over the course of a month or a year, those connections get very strong. That means it’s in your best interest to pay attention to positive things. Finding things to be grateful for, spotting opportunities, and showing yourself compassion when you don’t quite live up to your own standards are all habits you want to feed. They make you stronger and kinder. If you pay attention to negativity, fear, and resentment, though, they will get stronger and drag you down.
What we neglect dies.
Nature is very efficient. If we’re not using something, whether it be a limb or the ability to calculate percentages, those resources will be put toward something else. If we want to have something in our lives, we have to put effort into maintaining it. That’s why having clear priorities is crucial. We all have limited time and resources, so we have to devote them to what’s most important. If you want strong relationships, you have to put in the effort to keep them strong. If you want a heart like a racehorse, you have to put in the miles.
Never stop growing.
There’s no standing still in life. This can be frustrating, since you will invariably have moments when you feel like life is quite nice and you would prefer it didn’t change. However, life will always change in one way or another. If you try to stand still, you only end up stagnating. Change can be hard, but the only thing to do is embrace it. Try to learn something new every day. Keep moving toward your goals and when you reach them, set new, more ambitious goals. Find ways to do a little better every day and those small improvements will accumulate.
Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program located in Portland, Oregon. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men learn how to live sober with adventurous lives. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474