Saying “yes” to recovery really means opening yourself up to possibility and letting go of how you have always viewed yourself and your place in the world in the past. This starts with saying “no” to a number of things that may come naturally to you or to doing things that are an engrained part of your life. It’s not always easy, but it is absolutely worth it.
When you say “yes” to recovery, here are just a few of the things that you can and should say “no” to:
1. Spending time with friends who are still using: As much as you may miss the people you used to spend all your time with, especially after a stay in drug rehab, they are continuing to live a life that was killing you. It is not in your best interest to maintain these connections, no matter how much you love or miss them, and spending time around anyone who is drinking or getting high is almost always going to lead to cravings for your substance of choice. Making new friends, instead, is a big part of saying “yes” to recovery.
2. Spending too much time with embittered and angry family members or friends: During active addiction, like everyone living with the disease, you likely hurt the people who were closest to you. Often in recovery, part of the healing process is to identify the part you played in hurting yourself and others in the past. As difficult as this is for you, it is often hard for the people in your life who are still in this with you and struggling to understand why and how everything happened as it did. Unfortunately, this can lead to feelings of bitterness and anger that can make it harder for you to stay sober. Though it may be important to address those feelings and the issues that exist between you and your family members, it is important to do it in a way that feels emotionally safe and protects your growth in recovery.
3. Blaming yourself: Yes, there are things you likely wish you had done differently. But you have the opportunity to learn from all that has contributed to who you are today and to make bold choices going forward in recovery. Guilt and shame will only hold you back. While it is important to own your part in the past, it is equally important to take those lessons and allow them to help you give back to yourself, your family, and your community in the future.
4. Thinking that the only thing that has to change in your life is your use of substances: Addiction is not just about drug and alcohol use. It is about a pattern of behavior that resulted in drug use and, in most cases, a mishandling of stress, trauma, and other unresolved issues with choices designed to provide mental or emotional escape. In almost every case, sustainable recovery comes through rebuilding your assumptions and choices on a day-to-day basis from the ground up – not just the people you surround yourself with, but your understanding of what you are capable of and how you choose to take care of yourself physically and mentally each day.
5. Staying up all night: Or sleeping all day. Or eating fast food at most meals. Or spending the day watching TV most days. The littles things matter. They add up to the fabric of your life, and no matter how insignificant it may feel, choosing to go to the dentist for a checkup every six months, get a flu shot, or eat more vegetables can all help you to feel calmer, healthier, and more confident in your ability to manage stressors in recovery.
6. Shutting down new ideas: There is a wide world of opportunity available to you in recovery. You have the opportunity to learn new things, try new things, see new places, and connect with different people every day. Your world is as amazing as you allow it to be, and the more you say “yes” to trying things outside of your comfort zone, the more likely you are to create an incredible life for yourself.
7. Drinking or getting high: It should go without saying, but in recovery, there is no justification for picking up any substance, in any amount, at any time. You will undoubtedly face times of great grief or anger, engage in once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, and have thousands of moments where you could “get away with it” without anyone being the wiser. One drink or one night of drinking or drug use can lead to overdose, accident, extreme medical emergency, and/or a return to active addiction, and for that reason, it is never worth it.
What are you saying “no” to in your life so you can get the most out of your recovery?