Five Healthy Coping Mechanisms In Recovery
Five Healthy Coping Mechanisms In Recovery

Getting sober for people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction is an uphill battle. It is a challenging task for all parties involved. Not only do people in active addiction need help, they also need support from family, friends and loved ones. It does take a lot of willpower and courage for an individual to be willing to get help. Getting clean and sober is only half the battle. Staying clean and sober is the other half in the grand scheme of recovery. Here are five healthy coping mechanisms I recommend in the battle that could mean life or death: exercise, meditation, therapy, medication and a twelve-step program of your choosing.

1. Exercise - I highly recommend any sort of exercise for people in recovery. Aside from improving physical health, it can also be beneficial to mental, emotional and even spiritual health. I believe it is vital to keep yourself busy in recovery. Exercise is great for occupying free time. It can also curb and prevent a crave for drugs and alcohol. Exercise can reduce stress, anxiety and depression which can be key to preventing relapse. I suggest at least one hour of exercise, three to five days a week. Be sure to take it easy starting out. The best part of exercise is that it can come in various forms to fit your needs and lifestyle. Working out at a gym, at home, a jogging/running routine, yoga or some form of martial arts can all be beneficial in various ways.

2. Meditation - Meditation is a very common practice in treatment centers and recovery communities. Meditation can help with anxiety and depression. Meditating can also help reduce and turn attention away from cravings. Meditation teaches breathing exercises and technique. It is meant for calming, stabilizing and relaxing the mind, body and spirit. This in turn can reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure. Meditation emphasizes mindfulness and focusing on the present moment. Meditation can put you at peace while raising self-awareness and well-being. Meditation comes in many forms. Meditation could be something as simple as listening to music in your car. You hone in on the present moment. You become aware of the song being played as well as the traffic around you. Practicing meditation in the morning, during a break at work and before bed are ideal. You can meditate with or without music. Guided meditation is also popular. There are several resources and apps that can assist and guide your meditation sessions.

3. Therapy - The help of a mental health professional can be extremely beneficial in recovery. A therapist can give you sound advice, help you set goals and keep you on the right track. A therapist is great to confide in when you don’t feel comfortable turning to anyone else. Do not feel ashamed for seeking help if it means improving your own well-being. A therapist can help you out in times of need. A therapist can give you guidance when you find yourself stuck with problems and situations you are unsure how to handle. A therapist can also help you with the next coping mechanism- medication.

4. Medication - A professional can give you a diagnosis and recommend any medication that may be beneficial to you. It is no secret that those of us who struggle with substance use also tend to suffer from some type of mental health issue. Anxiety and depression are the most common. The two combined are known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. Medication is always an option to consider to improve your well-being. Medication can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Going on medication can also reduce the chance of turning back to drugs and alcohol for self-medicating.

 5. A Twelve-Step Program - The last and quite possibly the most important coping mechanism in recovery is working a twelve-step program for several reasons. Meetings are great for social, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. A twelve-step program is great for building a strong support network with people who share the same goal of staying sober. Attending meetings frequently can keep you inspired and motivated. Hearing other people’s stories, experiences, wisdom and knowledge can be motivating and inspirational. Meetings are also eye-opening because they help you realize you are not so different. You feel comfortable in knowing you are in a room with common ground. I recommend finding a home group for meetings. Find a meeting where you enjoy the format as well as the people who attend. The program also includes finding a sponsor and working the twelve steps. Find a sponsor with a lot of experience and knowledge in sobriety. It is best to find someone you connect with on a personal, spiritual, mental and emotional level. The sponsor of your choice will guide you through the twelve steps. Completing the twelve steps is excellent in freeing yourself from the burden of your wrongdoings in active addiction. The twelve steps can help you achieve forgiveness within yourself and others.

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