Once you have completed drug or alcohol rehabilitation and committed yourself to sobriety, you might feel as though you need every shred of support you can find. Undoubtedly the true challenge – staying off drugs or alcohol or both – begins after you have gone through detoxification and hours of therapy for your mind, body and spirit.
It takes a winning combination of several factors, such as diet, exercise, self-control and environment to create a plan of sobriety that works, but luckily, these are all factors that you can affect. The good news is that once you have weaned your body off of drugs and alcohol, and are putting forth the effort to stay clean, your body is going to embrace the changes for the better. You will start to feel like the person you were before you began using. Keep this list of positive and recovery-friendly behaviors handy for a healthier, post-drug addicted, you.
Get Your ZZZs – Regularly
A well-rested body means a healthy body (and mind), but even non-addicts have a difficult time getting enough sleep. Drug and alcohol dependency can disrupt healthy sleep habits in a number of ways. Marijuana has been proven to disrupt REM cycles and cause restless sleep, while cocaine, which produces side effects like restlessness and increased alertness, keeps the user and addict from the recommended seven to eight hours a night. Once you have gone through detoxification and all drugs have been out of your system for a significant period of time, you can begin to establish a healthy sleep pattern, consisting of the aforementioned seven to eight hours.
Much like with a newborn, who has no concept of night and day, you must teach your body that certain times are for sleeping and others for waking. If you have a rough night, try to resist sleeping in or napping; it will help your body feel suitably tired when it’s finally time to get shut-eye. If you’re having problems falling asleep at night, try being more active during the day, whether through exercise or keeping busy with errands or work. You could also talk to a doctor about non-habit forming sleep aids (don’t start any medication without a physician’s approval, first).
Go On a Brain Diet
You should attempt to get the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables, meat, grains and dairy for a healthy body anyway, but foods containing amino acids in particular have been found to aid in the restoration of neurotransmitters (which are naturally-occurring pleasure chemicals that get blocked with drug use). Bringing those neurotransmitters back can help fill the void left by drugs and lead to fewer cravings, a better sense of well-being in general and less chance of relapse. You might wonder what kinds of foods could possibly contain such power – prepare to be suitably impressed!
Because amino acids are basically subunits of protein, foods high in protein will contain them. These include: egg whites, beans, soy protein, salmon, milk, spinach and even parsley (not just a garnish now, is it?) Meats and cheeses in general also contain amino acids, though you should be careful how much you ingest of each because, being animal products, they tend to be high in fat.
You don’t have to sit up, stick-straight, in some pretzel-y position. Find a quiet place where you can be comfortable, sitting or laying down. The point of meditation is to quiet your mind, free it from clutter and “train” it to cultivate an internal feeling or state. The recovering drug addict might find meditation useful as a way of focusing on, reflecting on and understanding the things in life that may have caused their drug or alcohol abuse. It can help the recovering addict achieve a deep, spiritual and meaningful sense of inner calm and poise, which can in turn suppress triggers and overcome cravings. It’s all right if you fall asleep the first couple of times you try it – that’s actually not a bad sign, as it means you are feeling relaxed. But try to stay awake, and more than that, internally alert to what your mind and body are trying to tell you.
Run Away From Your Addiction
Usually you’re told to stand your ground and fight something, but you can run away – literally – from your addiction, and it’s one of the best ways to combat it. Exercise in general is a great tool for strengthening and improving the body and calming the spirit, and you don’t have to literally run – fast-walking and jogging are plenty beneficial as well, as long as you’re sweating and panting. You’ve heard of the “runner’s high,” after all, right? Strenuous (sweaty) exercise releases endorphins, which can create feelings of pleasure just as powerful as a drug’s, but without the addiction. Also, you’ll be strengthening your heart, which took a beating every time you got high or drunk.
Image by Keith Williamson from Flickr’s Creative Commons