3 Things that Helped Me Stay Sober
This is the personal story of Maxx, one of SouthLight’s Peer Support Specialists, who have shared lived experiences and walk alongside others on their recovery journey. We are grateful to Maxx for sharing this story, and we recognize that everyone’s recovery journey is different.
Staying sober takes vigilance and humility, but it also takes incredible strength.
If you are sober for a couple of days, celebrate that! And if you wake up sober the next morning, celebrate that, and keep growing!
It took a long time to string three straight years of sobriety together. Altogether I was in active addiction for well over 10 years; while I had brief periods of sobriety, I was never sober for more than nine months until now.
There is no silver bullet for addiction, and there are many paths to sobriety. Here are three things that worked for me.
I had to change my people, places, and things. I attended 12-step meetings, and the folks there became my support system. I placed myself in the middle of my recovery family and even began leading meetings. They say go to the meetings until you enjoy the meetings, and then you’ll keep going because, well, you enjoy them.
I had to start listening to my body and take care of it with healthy eating and exercise. When I got sober, I was under-weight and covered in bruises. I began to enjoy gaining healthy weight. I got much sought after endorphins from daily walks. Turns out I was one of the 37.9% of people with substance use disorder who also have a mental health diagnosis, so I needed the help of my psychiatrist and therapist to help regulate my brain chemistry.
I learned in my 12-Step meetings that I had to find a power greater than myself. At first, I had trouble with that. But the more I thought about what a miracle it was that I didn’t die during active addiction, I started to think that maybe there was something larger than me at work. For me, it was Buddhism and meditation which helped make me accountable and gave me a larger purpose.
When I was using, I was masking anxiety and depression. I was ignoring my community because I felt I was not a part of it. I had turned my back on spirituality either because I felt I was too bad or I thought the universe didn’t care about me.
In an ironic twist it was the very things that I turned my back on that helped me truly heal enough to face each day sober.
In early sobriety, everything hurt, and not just physically. In an ironic twist, it was the very things that I turned my back on that helped me truly heal enough to face each day sober. I leaned on my sober community, and they carried me when I couldn’t walk. I took care of my mind by finally being honest about my mental health symptoms. I took solace in quiet moments of meditation and spiritual inquiry.
The Oxford dictionary defines recovery as “the action or process of regaining possession of something lost or stolen.” To me, I have begun to recover my sense of being a part of something bigger than myself. This definition points out that recovery is a process. It has no end, just the promise of getting better and better.
Recovery is a process. It has no end, just the promise of getting better and better.
This may seem daunting, but I see it as inspirational. I feel I have made a commitment to myself to improve myself. When I look at my life now versus three years ago, everything is different. I am different. I am better, but not all the way, and that’s ok. I’m going to keep growing.
I’m not saying I don’t have bad days, but at the end of the day now I can say that I am sober, just for today, and if that’s the best thing that happened that day, I’m ok with it.
Maxx is a certified Peer Support Specialist for SouthLight.
Learn more about our Peer Support Services.
About SouthLight Healthcare:
Founded in 1970, SouthLight Healthcare is one of the area’s largest nonprofit providers of substance use treatment and mental health services. SouthLight partners with individuals and communities to provide innovative treatment solutions delivered with compassion and dignity. With outpatient and community-based programs, SouthLight provides prevention, education, and treatment services in the Triangle and beyond. Call 919-787-6131 for help or more information or visit www.southlight.org.