New Year, New You

New Year, New YouFor many of us, we approach the New Year looking for a reset—a time to survey ourselves and our lifestyles and establish goals for the upcoming year. Whether or not you’re a believer in making resolutions, January is still a fitting time of year to set your intent going forward—especially when making decisions about your health.

In our work, we see how important goal-setting is in the addiction recovery process. We’ve shared advice in previous blogs on how to set realistic goals, and we know this topic to be especially relevant as the year winds down. Consider these thoughts as you create goals and resolutions.

Breaking habits is much tougher alone

If you are struggling with addiction, perhaps you have tried to quit drinking or using in past seasons. Maybe you stayed clean for a period of time, but that chemical dependence drew you back into relapsing. This pattern is common, spotlighting the difficulty of making that change on your own.

An addiction is deeper than a bad habit. Substance abuse distorts how the brain processes rewards, making it incredibly challenging to cut off those substances outside of a controlled environment. Depending on how much someone is relying on a substance, the body responds to the substance’s absence through intense withdrawal symptoms in waves of physical and emotional reactions. In many cases, one person’s will is no match for these symptoms. You need the support of others to achieve real change.

One of the most valuable aspects of addiction treatment is the community, confirming for each person that you are not alone. A team of counselors and clinicians supports each addict in addressing individual needs, and a community of people in your shoes are going through the same struggles and sharing their stories. Together you find commonality and make needed break-throughs in a safe space.

Replace the bad with something good

Nearly any resolution can fall into one of two categories: doing more of something or doing less of something. If one of your resolutions is to do less of something unhealthy, best practice is to pair that resolution with doing more of something healthy. For example, if someone’s goal is to drink less caffeine, a complementary goal would be to drink more water. By focusing on drinking more water, the person finds a new, healthier option that helps them feel less deprived of what they are giving up.

When setting goals for sobriety, consider healthier activities you can do more of in place of drinking or using. Those activities could be exercising, learning something new, starting a hobby, or getting involved in a local nonprofit. Whatever you decide, find a positive activity to replace the negative activity, placing your focus on what you can do rather than what you’re missing.

You may need a change of surroundings

How does your environment support your sobriety? Are you living with people who encourage healthy decisions? Or is your home detrimental to your lifestyle? Changing your surroundings is never without complications, but it may be essential to getting a fresh start. Conducting a new, sober life is not sustainable in an old, relapse-triggering environment.

Leaving your surroundings may literally mean moving to a new location. For others it might mean changing jobs, living with different roommates, or finding new groups of friends. Even though those changes may bring up tough conversations, you will set your recovery up for success by surrounding yourself with positivity. Avoid testing how you do in negative environments. Those tests aren’t worth the risks.

Getting a fresh start

As we move into 2018, what steps can you take to establish a healthier lifestyle? What changes will you make to push yourself to be better? Take a look at our advice on creating better habits.