I've Been Clean Awhile, Now What?

If you’ve been clean for a period of time, you may be asking, “I've been clean awhile, now what?” The answer to this question is ironically simple in its complexity. For many, staying sober begins to seem like the end of a long road, as though fun and frivolity will remain absent without the use of drugs and alcohol. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is only when you cease to use drugs and alcohol for an extended period of time that life finally begins. It is at this stage that you truly learn life is all about.

The Long Road in Recovery

Many addicts and alcoholics admit that when they were drinking and drugging, “normies” were a source of continued amusement. People who lived a normal life were considered boring. Going to bed at a decent hour, being financially responsible and working a nine-to-five job were once alien to those who abused mind-altering substances. Albeit subconsciously, the sarcasm and mockery once focused upon productive members of society was actually a defense mechanism. Because this way of life had become so foreign to many addicts and alcoholics, the only way to deal with the reality of such an unattainable lifestyle was to make fun of it. Now, living life on its own terms must become a way of life and along with it comes what many refer to as “blissful boredom.” This realization can seem overwhelming at first, and often precedes a relapse, but it doesn’t have to. As long as there is life, there is hope. And as long as you are working a program of recovery in your life, there is nothing you can’t do to enrich your life with good things.

After the Long Road

A life without drugs and alcohol offers an unlimited number of opportunities for greatness. It’s time to expand your vision and look beyond your current circumstances. At first, recovery is about keeping it simple –your only focus is not putting drugs and alcohol into your body. And, at first, this is rewarding (and difficult) enough in and of itself. But as time goes on, you will have to take a more active role in giving your life meaning. The gift of recovery is that you have the opportunity to accomplish anything you set your mind to. Living life at the bottom rung for so long, surrounded by madness and mayhem, your life once required you to go to great lengths to clean up your own messes. Seeing life as something more than a condition of “just getting by” may be tricky, but it can be done.

Here are a few ideas:

-Don’t drink or drug no matter what. One thing is for certain: change is inevitable. If you remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol, things will get better. -Seek out new ways to be entertained. Go skydiving for example. -Go somewhere you’ve never been and do something you’ve never done. -Go to new meetings. Try branching out and attending 12-step groups you’ve never visited. You’ll meet new people and hear new ideas. -Travel somewhere outside your usual 50-mile radius. Take your sponsor and some recovering friends to the lake for the weekend. -Go back to school. If you don’t want to commit to college, take a trade class of some sort. -Go to amateur night at the comedy club and give it your best. Yes, you…get up there on that stage and make a fool of yourself. You’ll at least get a few courtesy laughs. -Volunteer. Read to blind kids, clean up poop at an animal shelter, do a magic show at the elderly care home. The sooner you realize it’s not all about you, the more expanded your horizons will become. -Send your mother flowers. You get the point. There is life and goodness happening all around you. If you are bored, or feeling unfulfilled in your recovery, it is your responsibility to do what is necessary to find happiness. Remember, just for today, that you are free from the bondage of addiction. That, my friend, is reason enough to celebrate.