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Admitting that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol is very difficult. There can be a complex array of emotions that come with this admission, including guilt, shame, disgust, self-hate, hopelessness, and even relief.
Pretending there isn’t a problem when you know deep down that there is can be exhausting. Though nobody wants to attend an AA meeting or admit that they are an alcoholic, it can be liberating to finally tell the truth. But what happens next? How can you beat the statistical odds and overcome addiction? Here are the top suggestions for newcomers to ensure the best results.
1. Go to a Meeting, Now
Going to regular meetings is essential for those critical first few months of sobriety. You will experience boredom, agitation, anxiety, and depression. While these are completely normal feelings, they can overpower you if you aren’t surrounded by people who understand and know how to provide guidance.
If you aren’t sure what to do with all your free time, try going to a meeting 3-4 times per day for the first few weeks. This may seem excessive, but abstaining from drinking in between meetings is much easier if you’re going multiple times a day.
2. Get a Sponsor
Newcomers are typically nervous and unsure of what to expect when they attend their first meeting. The best way to navigate these uncertainties is to find a sponsor. A sponsor can help you stay accountable early in sobriety and guide you through the steps. It can also be helpful to have someone to call when you feel the urge to drink or do drugs.
Find someone who has something that you want – be it peace of mind, a job, or repair relationships with family members. If you need to, raise your hand during a meeting and let others know that you are looking for a sponsor. Someone will be glad to point you in the right direction.
3. Get a Big Book
The Big Book is only a 5-8-dollar investment that is required for newcomers. In the Big Book, you will find personal stories, information on the Steps, and advice on how to live day-to-day life without alcohol or drugs.
Most importantly, you can see the Promises outlined for those who follow the steps to the best of their abilities. Though many other books can assist you on your sober journey, the Big Book is the most important one.
4. Stay Out of Relationships
A newly sober person is typically lonely and bored. Many alcoholics mistakenly get into new relationships to ease the pain and replace their addiction. Relying too much on another person to make you feel whole is not helpful early in sobriety.
If you are already in a relationship, make your primary focus the program for now. Explain to your partner that you will have to spend a lot of time in meetings and that it’s nothing personal. If not in a relationship, wait until you are sober for at least a year.
5. Stay Busy
Alcoholics are frequently restless, irritable, and discontent. This doesn’t change right away when you join AA. Though it’s great to relax and rewind after a long busy day, it’s not a good idea to spend all day on your phone watching Netflix early in sobriety. This will cause you to think that sobriety is boring and dull, placing you at greater odds to recover.
Instead, keep yourself as busy as possible to avoid overthinking. Get a new job, go to meetings, join a group at church, take up a new hobby, or make new healthy friendships. Life is much more than alcohol.
6. Prayer and Meditation
Many newcomers scoff at the idea of God. Perhaps they had a bad experience with organized religion or maybe they have an untrue misconception of who God is. It’s time to start putting those feelings away and become open-minded.
Spend some time writing out your conception of God and what you think He is about. Read religious literature, talk to a spiritual friend, or ask for advice from a trusted minister. Having a relationship with a God of your understanding is crucial to maintaining sobriety. Alcoholics are used to doing everything by themselves and running on self-will. Placing your faith in something higher can be enormously freeing.
Do you struggle with addiction, anxiety, or depression? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.