31.9 million people aged 12 or older in the United States are current users of illicit drugs, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine are easily available on the street, and alcohol is the most widely consumed substance in the United States. It seems that no matter where one turns, drugs and alcohol are always going to be present. If this is the case, then what can be done to maintain our New Years Resolution of remaining sober?
Well, when thinking of a solution, it appears that the most valuable answer is self-control and social support. Now, the words self-control and support seem very simple when written on paper or spoken out loud, but what do they truly mean?
Self-Control is defined as an individual being able to maintain and regulate their own emotions, desires, and behaviors in various situations, while support can mean simply giving assistance too, or receiving help.
So, what this means is that if one is to succeed with their drug free new year’s resolution, they need to be consistent, determined, and have a support network. This all sounds fantastic, but how can this be achieved? Well let’s talk about how to develop self-control and a support network
1. Setting goals
If your New Years resolution for this year is to remain sober or become sober, you are already starting on the correct foot by setting this goal. Keep in mind that the more specific and realistic the goal is, the higher the chances that you will be able to achieve it and continue to progress. For example, instead of labeling your goal as “never drink again”, you may want to begin your road to recovery with a more specific goal such as “no more than 3 drinks in a week”. When creating goals try and keep in mind that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Positive, and Realistic.
Monitoring oneself is an essential element in becoming more cognizant of ones own actions. Self-monitoring allows us to gather more information about our behaviors to continue to progress. Self-monitoring also keeps us in check and reminds us when we are falling behind on our goal. A self-monitoring option can simply be logging your day or logging the types of drinks you consumed in the day. There are many free PDF documents that specifically focus on self-monitoring to change a behavior. Overall, efforts to monitor our behaviors keeps us accountable, and helps in decreasing the difficulty of getting rid of an addiction.
Determination is the physical and psychological ability to not only accomplish the stated goal, but to also resist temptation when difficult situations arise. When thinking about self-control, it’s important to remember that self-control is foundationally dependent on one’s conviction, commitment courage, willpower and resolve. All critical traits of determination. Developing these traits are difficult, but through continuous effort, and not giving up one can form self-control.
4. The Questioning Mentality
Developing a mindset revolving around reflecting on questions encourages your mind and body to stop, think, and consider the short-term and long-term consequences of the behavior or situation you’re currently in. The best types of questions to ask yourself when you are in a situation related to drugs or alcohol are “Why” and “How” questions. “Why” and “How” questions allow the person to pause the present moment and relate the situation to your goals of remaining sober. For example, if you’re being offered some type of drug or alcohol, one can say, “I’ve been doing so well, how is this going to ruin my goal?”. This might seem silly but reflecting on this question gives the individual enough time to possibly make a better choice.
1. Reach Out
Probably one of the hardest, but most important aspects of developing a support network. Reaching out and speaking to someone that can truly listen to you can feel scary in the moment, but the payoff is priceless. You would be absolutely surprised by how many people are experiencing a similar situation as you, and are willing to sit down, hear you out, and talk to you. It is highly suggested to go and reach out to someone whether it’s in person or through social media.
2. Organizing Time
Managing your time is crucial when developing a support network. You want to make sure that you are reciprocating and nurturing the relationships you are developing. As a consequence of doing this, you not only strengthen the bond with those specific people, but you also begin to develop healthy habits that take time and energy away from focusing on drugs or alcohol.
3. Letting Go
It might seem like the opposite of forming a support network but letting go is an important skill to develop. Let’s be honest, not everyone is going to be a perfect match for you, and that’s okay! If you’re noticing certain negative behaviors from someone in your life, it is absolutely fine to separate yourself from that relationship. Even if at one point this person was your best friend it’s okay to let that person go. Learning and
practicing this skill will assist you when having to walk away from difficult decisions involving illicit drugs or alcohol.
As we have noted, remaining sober, and following through on our new year goals can greatly go hand in hand, but they can also be difficult to maintain and complete. Taking the first step to recovery will always begin with the person, but developing self-control, and having a support network can increase your chances of becoming and remaining sober exponentially.
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