You may have heard that fewer than 10 percent of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. You may also have heard that recovery isn’t guaranteed. In either case, that’s the sort of pessimistic attitude that creates self-fulfilling prophecies of failure—and which can be particularly discouraging to hear when you’re freshly detoxed from addiction in the late December–early January period when everyone is supposed to believe that major change will be easy this time.
The truth is, major change is never easy—but neither is it as impossible as the naysayers imply. Nearly half of people who make New Year’s resolutions do achieve success—provided they make those resolutions in the right mindset and with a well-planned, proactive approach. And while close to half of people in addiction recovery do experience post-detox relapse, the proactive approach is equally effective in preventing or rebounding from such setbacks.
Here, then, is our Top 10 list of proactive 2022 New Year’s resolutions for those in early recovery.
1. Stay Accountable
Addiction treatment centers provide a period of post-detox therapy, often as part of an inpatient program, to help clients establish accountability for staying sober. Don’t get careless after being released from formal treatment. You’ll need consistent support from counselors, friends, family members, and peers in recovery to keep you on track for the long term.
2. Stay Open About Your Feelings
Bottled-up emotions equal chronic stress, which leads to unnecessary temptations to relieve the pressure by returning to substance abuse. Regular support-group meetings provide a safe outlet to express your emotions without fear of judgment; also, have at least one person in your network whom you can call whenever immediate emotions become overwhelming.
3. Know and Avoid Your Triggers
“Triggers,” aka relapse temptations, may come in the form of flashy beer ads, job-related stress, or difficult people—and may be completely different for you than for any of your peers. Be honest about your personal weak spots, and have an active plan for steering clear of trouble before it happens.
4. Establish Boundaries in Your Life
Part of avoiding triggers is being clear on what you can’t allow—whether that means asking friends not to call you during home-office hours, or deleting distracting apps from your smartphone. Don’t be demanding or rude, but don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about legitimate needs, either. And if someone refuses (overtly or subtly) to respect your boundaries, don’t be afraid to consider terminating the relationship.
5. Plan for Your Down Time
When you’re bored, it’s easy to drift into reminiscing on the “good old days” when you could use spare time for a drink or a smoke. Make an advance schedule of positive activities (hobbies, reading, DIY projects) to fill potential “nothing to do” hours.
6. Leave Space for Stress Management
That is, don’t let your schedule get too full, and always allow more time than you think you’ll need. Otherwise, unforeseen circumstances are guaranteed to push your stress buttons extra-hard—and make you forget the negative consequences of seeking chemical relief.
7. Establish Good Physical Health Habits
A healthy body nurtures a stress-and-temptation-resistant brain. Plan and schedule for sleep, exercise, and good eating every day.
8. Take Time for Self-Care
Besides maintaining your physical health, self-care comprises moments of pure self-indulgence: a hot bath, a break to smell the flowers. This isn’t selfishness: you’re renewing yourself for greater overall effectiveness.
9. Stay True to Your Passions
Everyone has unique natural leanings, and everyone is happiest and most effective when vocational and leisure activities fit those leanings. Know yourself and be yourself, whether you’re socializing with friends, looking for work, or choosing a volunteer opportunity. Don’t get trapped on the wrong path just because “it means financial security” or “somebody has to do it.”
10. Take Regular Stock of Your Life
To paraphrase Step 10 of the 12 Steps, keep an eye on where you’re going and make immediate course corrections whenever necessary. Otherwise, it’s easy to drift back into old habits before you even realize what’s happening. The best way to ensure that early recovery becomes lifelong recovery, is to avoid letting familiarity breed contempt. New years grow old, and fresh experiences become fading memories, but recovery is a lifelong journey.
Keep Your Resolutions in Hemet, California
Any time of year is the right time to seek freedom from addiction, and resolve to begin a better life in recovery. Contact us at the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat to explore whether one of our programs is right for you.