Right now, you or a loved one may be struggling and depressed and may wonder can I be happy after an alcohol or drug addiction? Let us ease your pain by first telling you, that while you may be struggling with an addiction, you are not diseased. You have never been and can overcome substance use problems. The first step to happiness is realising that you can regain a sense of control.
An unhappy person naturally seeks relief and happiness, to you currently that may be to use drugs or to drink alcohol. These actions may have some temporary positive results, but are followed by a sense of loss, sickness and hopelessness when the temporary happiness fades quickly. That sense of loss may then create a greater need for more quick fixes, thus more use of substance. This instant gratification is obviously going to keep you wanting more and more, but all quick fixes come to a swift end.
In these cases, crack and heroin are extreme examples of temporary fast fixes that fade quickly and leave the user very depressed, and these actions can be extremely counterproductive and incredibly destructive. For people who make these choices, happiness is a single motivating factor. This is the reason why women leave their children and prostitute for crack money or why a crack user may steal for his next fix. Some people have the idea you can simply cut short the hard work necessary for achieving lasting happiness by identifying the negative aspects of life and then avoiding them.
Although there is some truth to this, there is more to it than that. Negative events that result from negative habits don't always motivate personal change because they provide temporary benefits to the individual. Positive thinking and a goal oriented direction of change can motivate you to make better choices regarding your use of alcohol or drugs. You may realise there are other things in life that can offer you long-term happiness, rather than brief spouts of joy. This is how you can be happy again after a drug or alcohol addiction.
The most important thing you can do to regain happiness is to simply decide to change. While going in rehabilitation is a "fix" it does not always end a lifetime of struggle and relapse. The thing that will “fix” the problem and give you a better chance of happiness is “The Power of Choice”.
So how can you move into the direction of happiness again without using substances?
Smartlife Sefton can guide you through the process of beginning a new chapter of your life. There are other options in your life that might provide a deeper sense of satisfaction and joy. If you are struggling with a substance use problem you may just not see those options at this very moment, because you are still seeking instant happiness, but you will get there with our help.
No matter what your past looks like, we have full confidence that you will overcome this difficult time in your life and move on to a brighter future. We have helped people to overcome their substance use problems and you are no different.
Getting sober is hard enough, but making a fresh start in life is in many ways an even more difficult task. Initially, conquering the symptoms of withdrawal and the cravings that you feel for another drink or more drug. Stepping back into the workaday world and resuming a normal lifestyle after spending years within addiction has been compared to coming out of a cave, and it is a process of transition which requires several steps, changes and resolutions to pull off. If you have recently gotten sober, or are working on your recovery, and want to make sure that you can make things go right in your time after being in addiction, here are ten actions you can take to improve your chances of success:
Slow and Steady
It very often happens that a person who has recently recovered from addiction assumes that he or she is ready to charge back out into the world and take life by the horns, only to fall flat on his or her face. You may feel great, reinvigorated and recharged, and you should live life to its fullest now; but don’t take on more than you can handle yet. The pace of life is likely to be quite different now, and it is very well worth it to take some time readjusting.
Making Up Damage
There is a good chance that you did things to other people — or failed to do things that you should have — while you were an addict, and that these actions or omissions caused a certain amount of upset or animosity. However happy your loved ones may be to have you back sober and healthy, realise that as time goes on you might start to see the influence of old wounds in their behaviour towards you. As soon as possible, find a way to repair any damage that you may have done and go above and beyond to make things right.
Find Out What Is Expected of You
Another step that you should take in regards to your relationships with family and friends is to speak with them and find out what they expect you to do, how they hope that you will behave in dealing with them, and what they need from you.
If, for example, if you started drinking or using drugs as a teenager, and you are now in your late 20’s or early 30’s, life is very different now from how it was when you were last sober and a functioning member of the family, so it’s time to establish the roles and expectation in those relationships. This discussion is not only for your sake. They have got used to seeing you as an addict, and have grown accustomed to thinking of you within that framework and will tend to keep acting towards you that way — or might expect too much now that you are sober and “everything is different.”
Talking about expectations will help them to look at the situation in present time and form more realistic standards moving forward.
It’s enough work to take the time to discuss in detail what exactly is going to be expected of you by your family and friends, but now you must follow through on it. You beat the habit of drinking or using drugs, and now is the time to change your other habits in terms of how you relate to people, how you handle your obligations, what you do for them and more. The people you spoke with may have been duly impressed that you were interested in what they thought and wanted to take their expectations into consideration, but what will impress them, and help you cement stable relationships, is if you follow through on what you said you would do, now and in the long term.
Find Sober Friends
It’s not advisable to keep spending time with the people you used to drink or use drugs with. No matter how much they may say that they support you in your sobriety, the fact is that they do not, even those who do think it is a good thing that you have got sober do not support it, because by the fact of their own continued substance abuse they are essentially headed in the opposite direction from the one you have chosen for yourself. Furthermore, even if your time with these people does not include times when they are getting high or drunk, there is a chance that being around these people will tend to revive your own memories and make you experience cravings. No amount of sentimentality is worth your sobriety, your health and happiness in the years ahead.
Find New Activities
When you were using, your life most likely revolved around drinking or getting high. The times when you weren’t engaged in substance abuse were probably dominated by thoughts of how you would get your next fix, and you likely had everything arranged around making it possible for you to do so. What will you do with your time now? Addiction has left a vacuum in your life, and now is the time for you to fill that vacuum with something constructive, engaging and enjoyable. Find a new hobby, start volunteering, pursue education that will help you further your career, or do anything else which will set your new life on the right path.
How often did you work out while you were drinking or using drugs? You may be sober now, but are you healthy? Getting into a regular exercise routine can make a world of difference in improving your energy levels, your sense of well-being, and your feeling of self-confidence. Whether you take up running or cycling, start going to the gym, or join a team, you can take things to a whole other level by getting into shape.
An added benefit of this is that exercising will tend to put you in the company of other people who are dedicated to living healthy lifestyles, which will help to support you in your new life.
Get a Good Diet
If you were like most people who have spent years drinking or using, you likely did not have the best diet during that time. It’s true that you are what you eat, and your body may now be showing the signs of a long period of malnutrition. Cut out junk food from your diet, keep sugar and unhealthy fats to a minimum, and load up on fresh vegetables and fruits, fish and lean meats. Drink plenty of water, and avoid having too much coffee. The change won’t happen overnight, but with time your tastes will change, you will start craving healthy food rather than junk, and you will notice remarkable changes in your energy level, appearance, immunity and overall health.
Get Enough Rest
Whatever your sleep schedule was while you were addicted, it was likely not one that was conducive to good physical and mental health. Sleeping all day and staying up all night, sleeping off and on through the night, going days on end without sleep and then crashing — these are only a few common examples of the kinds of schedules which characterise “rest” for an addict. You might be surprised to see what a difference it can make to get yourself into a rhythm of sleeping for eight hours every night.
It can translate to higher energy levels, a far better mood, sharper mental alertness, less illness and more.
Find and Pursue Your Goals
Perhaps the most important step you can take following your recovery from addiction is to figure out what your goals are in life, and to set about following those goals.
In fact, this will tend to make the other things happen, since once you are headed along a trajectory towards your goals, things like getting enough rest and getting along with your family will fall into line. This is especially important if you became an addict when you were in your teens, when you may not have already worked out the goals for your future. The future is a blank slate, and it is up to you to decide what you want to be, do and have, but you do have to make that decision and carry it out.