4 Tools To Help You Stay Clean and Sober in Early Recovery

Getting sober or clean and living in early recovery can be daunting. There are so many new challenges being thrown your way: new friends, new places, new aspirations and goals. It can be overwhelming at times.

Below are four quick tips that can be utilized when going through the early times, which can help alleviate any fears or anxieties you might have during that turbulent stage. Going through recovery myself, I can attest to these tips helping me and others who are going through early sobriety.

  • Managing your “HALT”: Hunger, Angriness, Loneliness, and Tiredness.

Making sure that these align with your recovery is imperative.

    • Hunger: Since our bodies were deprived of nutrients while in active addiction, it is very important to eat well when we are in early recovery. We want our bodies to operate with the utmost potential. We could have an emptiness inside us that needs to be filled, and filling it with healthy foods and diets can go a long way, mentally and physically.

    • Angriness: When angry, you’re surrounding yourself with negativity, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Angriness can release past feelings and desires of using or drinking. Controlling your anger and having steps to pacify those negative feelings is vital. Try to be optimistic and positive, as it can result in a change of your mood, demeanor, and way of thinking.

    • Loneliness: Being alone can always cause cravings to use or drink. I know that it happened to me in my early recovery. Surrounding yourself with positive and encouraging people will help ease the desire to use or drink. New people and activities can help distract you from your loneliness.

    • Tiredness: Tiredness can really take hold of our mental, spiritual and physical being, causing us to have low energy, no ability to think clearly or dealing with day to day struggles. Getting the right amount of sleep, eating well and exercising can really help boost your energy and mindset.

  • Playing the tape forward.

This is another useful mechanism used in all recovery. Essentially, it reminds you of how life was in active addiction -- those feelings of despair, hopelessness, and fear. Facing the distrust with your family and friends and the bridges that have burned because of the choices you made in addiction. Playing the tape forward also helps when you have cravings. For instance, if you use or drink that “one more time,” you could easily fall back into full blown addiction. Remember that we are trying to move past those unhealthy recordings to start taping new sober experiences for the future.

  • Reaching out for help when needed.

There are a lot of resources out there for people in early recovery. If you’re into AA, there’s support at meetings and with a sponsor. If you’re not into AA, you can find people with similar interests and values that can slowly grow into your support group. Calling support phone lines and volunteering could also help you get out of your own mind.

  • Spirituality.

Not necessarily religious beliefs, but your connection with something bigger than you in this world. Meditation is a great way to find balance between your busy life and spirituality. It is a practice that brings you closer to a higher power and also helps with depression, stress and anxiety.

After trying these new skills, you will discover that life in early recovery can be easier than you thought. When I was in early recovery, these four tools were everything I needed to get past cravings, tough daily tasks, and being able to love myself during my journey. I try my best to follow all suggestions given to me, but these four were especially useful. Being in early recovery isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but with these four tips, you may be able to make your sober journey bright like those rainbows.

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As Workit Health’s Intake Coordinator, Corissa Lappin is passionate about helping others bridge the gap between addiction and long-term recovery, as she did herself. She has a BA in Psychology from SFSU, and has previously worked in the recovery field as a medical assistant and clinician supervising those on methadone and buprenorphine.