We all understand that addiction is a losing game while you’re in it, but it doesn’t have to continue to feel like a loss during recovery. Sobriety can often seem like walking a one-man tightrope but if you play it just right, you can make it a team sport instead. Playing a game is just like playing at life, and in both cases, you need someone to play with. Here are a few reminders as to why you started training for your new life, how to get others to be on your team, and how to continue winning together, even when the competition gets tough.
Why you started to work your recovery muscles:
Life was hard. With addiction, it became harder and you became lonely. You said yes to a substance and no to yourself too many times. Maybe you hit rock bottom. Or maybe you were able to foresee the downward spiral. Whatever it was, you knew you were ready. You were ready to start living again, without the negative feelings that accompany substance abuse. Fast forward a few brave decisions later and the willingness to change, you’re feeling better than ever. It worked! But now what? You begin to ask yourself some hard questions. How do I make new friends? Am I going to be missing out on social life? Who am I and what do I want to do now? These questions are good because the answers to them are even better. Yes, you can make many wonderful new friends. Yes, you will absolutely be able to have a social life you enjoy. And for the first time in what seems like forever you can be whomever you choose to be and have the opportunity to do anything you put your mind to. You’re out of the negative and into a new place of progress. Whatever comes your way, you’re ready for it because remember, you’re already beating the odds and on your way towards a home run.
So how do you make friends and reinvent an environment that doesn’t feel so foreign? Sure you may feel rusty, and the bases are unclear, but the best thing to remember is that everyone and by everyone I mean no one, is exempt to that nervous feeling of newness. The unknown can be scary. Will they like me? Will I say the right thing? Will I be able to say yes to the right people and no to the ones who don’t know the rules? You are not alone. There are a surprising number of Adult Americans who do not partake in drugs and alcohol at all - 30% according to one study done on US statistics by NESARC in 2013. In addition to that, 21.5 million Americans were suffering from drug and alcohol abuse in 2014 and the numbers have generously risen in recent years. This means there are a minimum of 1 in 10 Americans who are trying to beat addiction on a daily basis. This is where you come in because these are people looking to renew their sense of wonder in the world just like you are. With a little effort and a genuine attitude, you’ll realize just how easy it is to find people who are invested in staying sober, or who’ve always had this as their priority. With these odds, if you make yourself available, you’ll be recruited in no time. Once you realize you can find people who aren’t just in recovery but are actually interested in living a full life without the interest in false highs, that’s when your relationships become meaningful, all the bases are covered and the fun can begin. Remember teammates are people that want to see you thrive because unified, you win together.
Now you’ve got yourself a team of genuine players. So what happens next? It isn’t easy when other obstacles come in to play. Sometimes you get a curve ball thrown at you- life in itself is full of hurdles and roadblocks. You’re better prepared than you think when you have friends and people that understand exactly what you’re going through. Insight only increases in numbers, so it’s extremely important to stay busy and surrounded by those that want to keep the game going with you. Encourage your friends and ask them to encourage you in return. Remind them that sometimes you need a kind word to refill the tank and get you back up to speed. There is nothing wrong with asking for what you need- the important part, having someone to ask, is already covered. Your team may not win every single game, and sometimes you’ll strike out despite your own best intentions. Going through it together pushes everyone involved towards a stronger comeback. It's good to remember that defeat is sometimes necessary to work other muscles of humility and the grace of letting go. When you play the game together, you have a reason to get back on your feet and strive for better. You have people that count on you and whom you can count on that also believe in you. Through winning and losing with others we learn what it means to be honorable and how to continue swinging. No matter what the outcome, being a part of a team is the first step towards victory.