How to Stay Sane During Substance Abuse Recovery

How to Stay Sane During Substance Abuse Recovery

Overcoming substance abuse is no easy task. It takes more than a steely resolve to break free from addiction. This is one instance where you can’t do it all by yourself, no matter how strong-willed you are. On the contrary, you’ll need all the help you can get.

The problem with addiction is that drugs and alcohol affect your brain. It causes you to lose control over your actions. You become powerless to resist the craving to drink or take drugs even if doing so harms you and hurts the people you love. But no matter how desperate your situation may be, you are not beyond help. With the appropriate treatment and strong support, you can set your sights on sobriety and regain control over your life.

The process of recovering from substance abuse will be challenging, so here are several ways to help you stay sane.

  • Consult A Mental Health Professional

The first step to recovering from substance abuse is admitting that you need help. Seeking professional help is crucial because substance use disorders typically require behavioral counseling combined with medication. However, a thorough assessment is necessary, while blood tests and other laboratory tests may be needed to evaluate drug use before a mental health professional can prescribe a treatment plan.

Should you require intensive treatment and round-the-clock care, choose a reputable recovery facility like to ensure an effective treatment approach. Aside from providing structured care, recovery facilities also prepare patients to transition back to their regular lives by establishing new routines. This helps keep them sane as they seek to recover from substance abuse.

  • Join A Support Group

Your environment could significantly affect your progress in substance abuse recovery. As might be expected, your resolve will be severely tested if you continue to hang out with the old gang. On the other hand, surrounding yourself with the right people could help you stay sane as you journey towards recovery. Reach out to people who would motivate and support you instead of deriding your efforts to overcome substance abuse.

Aside from spending time with your family and well-meaning friends, you should consider joining a support group program. This involves attending regular meetings where the members share their struggles with substance abuse and encourage each other. Here you can find people who have been there and thus, can give you practical advice on how to break the bonds of substance abuse.

a girl in enjoying herself in mountains -substance abuse recovery
  • Keep Yourself Out Of Harm’s Way

Perhaps the best way to avoid giving in to the substances that you used to be addicted to is to avoid situations that lead you to them. For instance, if you’re a recovering alcoholic, do not go to liquor stores or bars where you’ll be tempted to drink. Staying away from temptation is winning half the battle.

Ideally, you should avoid the friends you used to drink with as they might lead you back to your old ways. If you usually hit the bar after work, then change your routine. Throw items that have something to do with your addiction, such as your hip flask. Doing so removes the reminders of what you used to do, keeping yourself from falling into temptation.

  • Learn Relaxation Techniques

Keeping yourself sane during substance abuse recovery is quite challenging. For one thing, you might experience severe withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, sweating, tremors, restlessness, shakiness, and trouble sleeping. Relaxation techniques can help ease these symptoms by calming your nerves.

You can practice deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. You can also try aromatherapy treatment using essential oils, which reportedly reduces anxiety, agitation, insomnia, and depression, among others. Getting a massage is another way to help you relax your tense muscles. The more you release the tension inside your body, the better you can cope with withdrawal-related symptoms.

  • Look For Healthy Alternatives

When trying to wean yourself from substance abuse, you might think that all you need is a substitute for a bad habit. A substitute is not necessarily bad. However, there’s a danger that the replacement could be your new addiction. For instance, you could be replacing your substance abuse with workaholism. Being compulsive about your work is not healthy if you spend all your waking hours working and don’t have time for anything else.

Instead of a single substitute that may become a compulsive activity, try several healthy alternatives, such as engaging in sports, practicing Tai Chi, joining a volunteer group in your community, or spending more time outdoors. Maintaining a healthy balance in your life is essential to substance abuse recovery. Aside from work, try to find time for physical exertion, relaxation, and adequate sleep.

  • Keep Yourself Busy

Distracting yourself is one way to keep your sanity during substance abuse recovery. It allows you to keep your mind off the things that make you unwell and prevent yourself from going back to old habits. Avoid boredom by keeping yourself busy all the time.

For starters, you could try taking an extra shift at work so you can keep your mind occupied with your tasks. You can start redecorating your home or doing some volunteer work in your community. Being able to help others gives you a sense of joy and fulfillment that you can’t get anywhere else. Also, by keeping your mind and hands busy, you won’t have time to dwell on dark thoughts.

  • Search For A New Hobby

It would also help to engage in a new hobby during substance abuse recovery. A new passion can help keep your mind off your compulsive drug use. It could be anything that makes you happy, gets your creative juices flowing, or allows you to reconnect with nature. It’s a healthy and productive way to occupy your free time during the day.

There are plenty of hobbies you can try, such as photography, painting, coin collecting, car restoration, woodworking, hiking, kayaking, and more. If you don’t know where to start, check out online workshops or technical courses at your local college. Picking up a new hobby enables you to learn a new skill or trade, discover career opportunities, and meet new friends.

  • Take Good Care Of Your Body

Taking good care of your body could serve as a good distraction to keep you away from negative thoughts. You can begin by sticking to a healthy diet and doing regular exercises. You could hit the gym or do cardio workouts at home. Other options include dancing, brisk walking, running, swimming, rock climbing, or some other sport you enjoy.

Physical activity promotes the production of endorphins, which makes you feel good and reduces stress and the perception of pain. In addition to the physical benefits, exercise boosts your mental health. Research also shows that regular exercise can help prevent relapse by reducing drug cravings.

  • Go On An Adventure

Going on a trip is a great way to dispel unpleasant thoughts while enjoying new sights and sounds. An outdoor adventure may be just what you need to help keep you sane during your substance abuse recovery.

An adventure doesn’t always have to be grand and far. You can just go out of town, head to the beach, go hiking, or try an exciting outdoor activity that can give you an adrenaline rush. Ideally, you should bring your family and friends because that will make the adventure all the more fun.

  • Decide How To Respond

As you endeavor to recover from substance abuse, expect that people will constantly talk to you about your journey. They may ask what your wake-up call was, the initial steps you took, and how well you’re doing right now. While it might be difficult to talk about these things, learning how to respond appropriately is essential.

Even before anyone asks, you should prepare your story and decide how you want to share it. You can leave out some information that you’re uncomfortable talking about. If people ask for more details, think of a proper response to keep them from probing deeper, subtly reminding them to respect your privacy.

  • Surround Yourself With Inspiration

You’ll likely become frustrated and lose motivation on the road to substance abuse recovery. While going back to your addiction is easier, it’ll put all your efforts to waste and affect everyone around you.

It would be beneficial to surround yourself with inspiration and fill your days with it. You can display inspirational wall art inside your home, replace your phone’s wallpaper with a motivational quote that resonates with you, and reflect on an inspirational quote every day. These powerful messages could help you press on toward your goal to be sober.

  • Prioritize Your Loved Ones

As you go through the recovery process, there might be times when you want to go back to your bad habits because they can dull the pain and make you forget painful memories. However, your substance abuse brings you into a downward spiral and affects your relationship with the people you love.

Each time you’re tempted to grab a drink, pop a pill, or smoke, try to think of your loved ones and imagine how heartbroken they’ll be once you go back to substance abuse. Revisit that moment when you told them that you want to be better and heard their sigh of relief. Those small things may encourage you to keep up your efforts to stay sober.

  • Recall Your Worst Moment

While this might be a bit harsh, recalling your worst moment could help keep you from sliding back and derailing your recovery process. Think about your life when you were consumed by substance abuse and how it has negatively affected your life and hurt the people you care about.

As you recall your worst moment, try to relive the awful feeling, the sound, and the environment. Remind yourself that this is a situation you never want to happen again. Evoking all those negative sensations may bring you to your senses, keeping you sane and wanting to be sober.

  • Create A Progress Journal

Seeing your progress and how far you’ve come is a great way to motivate you to become a better version of yourself. As soon as you decide to stop your substance abuse and embark on the path to recovery, you should start a progress journal. List down every victory, may it be big or small. You can even list down that you’ve cut ties with people who are bad influences, how you’ve declined a shot of whiskey, and more.

As you create your progress journal, you’ll have something to remind you of past successes, inspiring you to keep pushing forward. Looking at the record of the headway you’ve made can help motivate you to continue your journey and not waste your hard-earned progress.

  • Plan Your Future

Another great way to help keep you sane and inspire yourself to get better as quickly as possible is by planning your new life. This will make you anticipate what the future holds and keep you from reverting to your self-destructive behavior. This can also help you stay focused on your goals, which can be another form of distraction.

When planning for your future, ensure that you take deliberate action and not just engage in wishful thinking. It could be moving to a different city, purchasing a new car as your reward, or anything else that benefits you and the people around you. As you plan for your future, you can keep your eyes on the goal and motivate yourself to keep pushing until you get better.


Staying sane during substance abuse recovery can be challenging, especially for the first few weeks. Steering yourself away from your comfort zone might make you feel uneasy and miss your old habits. But with appropriate support, you should be able to stay right on track. You can begin by surrounding yourself with the right crowd, keeping yourself busy, learning new skills, and planning your new life once you get sober. As the process of recovery can be quite a struggle, focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel should help keep you going and finally be free.

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