Defining your values and integrating recovery into each day can help you stay the course of sobriety.
The people who are most successful in maintaining their sobriety — those who have been sober for 10 years, 25 years or more — often talk about themselves not as “cured” from their addiction, but as living a life in recovery.
That’s a key difference, according to Monica Armas, program director at Asana Recovery, which offers detox, residential treatment and an outpatient program in Costa Mesa, California. While people who are cured have done their treatment and moved on, people who are living in recovery have made treatment and sobriety a part of their daily lives.
“It is important to integrate recovery into everyday life because it can provide strength and hope,” Armas said. “It is Important to be actively participating in a routine that is conducive to how you want to live your life.”
It’s so crucial to long-term recovery that integrating recovery into daily life is an instrumental part of “The Asana Way.” That begins early on in the recovery process, by involving clients in day-to-day decisions, like what recreational activities will be offered. Then, it continues throughout treatment as The Asana Way is integrated into therapeutic approaches.
At Asana, Armas and other providers help people who are newly sober define what values are the most important to them. This might be family, faith, career, or exploration. These values are what drive people to do the hard work of recovery, and they are also the values that will define the person’s new sober life. Whatever those priorities are, Armas encourages clients to start “living with your values in mind.”
“Once we are able to identify what we value, then we’re able to start putting our values first and are able to see personal growth in all areas of life,” she said.
Oftentimes, this involves redefining the values that clients have held in the past. Before, their values might have been dictated by their substance use problem, but in recovery they are able to focus on what really matters most to them when the desire for the next high is taken away.
This is why setting boundaries is an important part of early recovery. Boundaries help people announce to the world what values they’ll be focusing on, and how those have changed.
“Establishing a new sober way of life involves setting boundaries with family, friends and work,” Armas said.
When it comes to setting healthy boundaries, Armas encourages clients to walk the middle ground between emotional and logical choices.
“By walking the middle path a person is able to live a more balanced life and make decisions that are purposeful to them,” she said. “Walking to the middle path can be challenging in the beginning but, it’s amazing how it can transform life and how we perceive situations.”
Using this approach, clients can fulfill their emotional needs and desires, while also letting logic protect them from emotional pulls that might have negative consequences.
Armas encourages clients to use that combination of emotional and logical decision-making to gain new perspective, both when they are newly sober and as they live their life in long-term recovery.
“One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Wayne Dyer and he says, ‘When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,’” Armas said. “I would say if you need a boost in recovery take a step back and see how you are perceiving your recovery and life.”
Along the journey of recovery, fellowship is an important tool to help gain that perspective on how far you have come, and how your history of addiction might still put you at risk.
“It is important to have fellowship in recovery because it provides a sense of belonging to a group,” Armas said. “At the end of the day we all want to feel accepted, and finding a recovery group that provides that sense of belonging is powerful. Also, it is an open place for others to share a similar struggle and it can help provide insight into addictive behaviors.”