UPgrade Your Sobriety
The dictionary defines the act of upgrading as “raising something to a higher standard.” If you are a frequent flyer, you love the opportunity to occasionally be upgraded first class where you might get to stretch your legs out more and fly in comfort. Comfort and new technology urge us to upgrade our tech toys to newest models.
We strive for comfort in many parts of our lives, why not in our recovery? Sobriety doesn’t have to be like sitting in coach for the rest of your life, it can be like having the best seat in the house. Let it happen and say “yes” to an upgrade.
An upgrade in an airplane is an event that happens from outside. We do not have much say about it, no control, not much influence. All you can do is maybe ask for it, but there it stops and you are sentenced to be sitting in the waiting area to see what happens. You must rely on chance and the good will of others. In your sobriety, nobody will do it for you; you have the control and are at the helm. Your move is required to make it happen.
Our memories are stored in one part of our brain. They are there, you can’t delete them like a spam email you never asked for. If those memories associate a pleasant feeling or a pleasant situation with the use of drugs or alcohol, they keep popping up when you least need them. They create cravings, frustration, irritability, and even depression for some. Sometimes, you may hate the sober life you are in, because the memories of good times come up, and since the day you began using substances, those memories always come along with using or drinking.
Your brain is a complex structure, but making a change in it can be very simple. Your brain creates a loop, “If you give me drugs, I will be happy again.” From there, it’s just a matter of time until you fall in that trap and have a recurrence of your disease, along with either a glass on your lips, a drug in your body, or both just to be sure.
One way to overcome those thoughts is to stay busy in the first weeks and months of your recovery. You trick your brain and body by not having time to dwell on those “good” memories. But does that make you any happier? I guess not really. Some people fall into other addictive behaviors like shopping, gambling, sex or eating. Alternative addictive activities temporarily flood the brain with neurotransmitters that create a sense of well-being, but since it never reaches the extent that the original drug gave, it is only a temporary fix, and a dangerous one, too. You didn’t save your life from drugs to die of a heart attack because you are triple the weight now.
Replacing one addiction with another is very common because we all want happiness in our life. Our brain is always searching for comfort. You are the one who has to determine if that way is a healthy one or not.
So, how can we upgrade our seat of recovery and have a fulfilling sobriety? There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, but try to replace those ‘old hairy’ memories of happiness and drug use or drinking into happy sober memories. The activities you experience in sobriety that have a lasting effect of feeling good and giving you happy memories will help the others fade away over time. It requires some work, but it’s well worth it. Here are some examples of what you could do to increase your sober good memories inside the brain, and make those dangerous ‘happy drug world’ memories a thing of the past:
- Go to the Gym: You might not like it at first, but once you feel the effect of endorphins during your workout or any exercise, you will end up having pleasant memories about that. Choose an activity there that suits and attracts you. Try the treadmill, stepper, weights, cardio, groups. Get your heart rate up and the natural high flowing.
- Go to the nearest lake or ocean: Take a boat or rent one. Get out and have some fun in the sun and on the water. Use a towable and laugh like a child. Sign up for a snorkeling trip or go whale watching. Make a scuba class.
- Invite friends for dinner or to watch a movie: It’s always nice to have good sober friends over. Make it a regular day of the week to meet and do some fun things. You can also call for a game night or get a yoga DVD and invite your friends to join the living room carpet with you. Have fun, have company, have new friends.
- Go river rafting or take the canoe: Do you live near some rapids? Let me tell you it’s worth a trip to make some great memories this summer! You don’t have to have a group. You can show up by yourself; many outfitters fill up the boats with great, likeminded people for the trip. Or Google where you can rent a canoe or kayak and explore the serenity of lake or river with some friends.
- Consider riding or visiting a horse: Do you know someone who has horses? Ask this person if he or she would assist you in producing a sober upgrade memory and go for a ride with you.
- Use your church or community sports venue: Many churches and communities have an indoor basketball court or some sort of venue for sport activities. Ask if you and some friends in recovery could use the room at a certain time to enhance a drug free life. Then ask in your meetings, IOP, sober living, etc. who would be interested to play that day soccer or basketball.
I’m not here to tell you what to do. I only want to inspire your thoughts and give you examples of nice sober events. Heroes in Recovery created a series of great events that are especially for people in recovery and their loved ones. We offer 6K runs/walks across the nation. Even if you are not a runner, come by! Our runs are fun gatherings with live music and like-minded people. If there is one near you, don’t miss it! Stay tuned for new locations coming up as well. Get more information here.
I hope this article gave you some ideas about how to upgrade your sobriety experience by exchanging memories. You will be amazed how well it works if you apply it vigorously to your life. Great sober memories don’t have to cost a dime, so use your creativity. Don’t say, “yes, but…” Think of excuses as barriers. Don’t let excuses destroy your fun sober life anyway, and if it’s a true barrier, seek solutions instead of giving up. Upgrade your recovery today! It’s free! Just say “yes” and grab the initiative. Safe travels on your journey!
We do recover.