Keeping Sobriety Fresh: How to Avoid a Recovery Rut

When we first come into recovery, whether by way of rehab, counseling, or a 12-step group, many of us are inundated with new experiences. Our days may be filled with therapy, support group meetings, and other activities designed to show us a new way to live. But as we learn to integrate these techniques into our daily lives, the initial excitement of sobriety (sometimes referred to as the “pink cloud”) can begin to subside. It’s happened to me more than once and I won’t lie — it can feel frustrating and discouraging.

But it doesn’t last forever. In my experience, those lulls do pass if I have the willingness to believe they are temporary and the patience to wait them out. So if you’re finding yourself feeling less enthusiastic than you did in the beginning of your recovery, here are some tips on how to avoid getting into a recovery rut.

1. Write a Gratitude List

It’s easy to take things for granted when life gets busy — we are human beings and it happens to the best of us. Writing a daily gratitude list is a common practice for people in recovery for this very reason. It reminds us of the good things in our lives, both big and small, which can help put the more challenging aspects of our daily lives into perspective. Research also shows that having a regular gratitude practice can help boost mood, improve self-esteem, and reduce stress.

2. Practice Self-Care

While getting sober involves taking responsibility for our actions and making better life choices, it’s also about learning how to love and care for ourselves. This includes nourishing our bodies with healthy food, exercise, and a consistent sleep schedule — things we may not have been doing when we were active in our addiction. It also means carving out time to rest, recharge, and enjoy relaxing self-care activities such as reading a book, taking a bath, watching a movie, or chatting with a friend.   

3. Help Someone Else

If you’re part of a 12-step fellowship, you may have heard the expression “service keeps you sober.” It really is true — one of the best ways to break out of a recovery rut is to be of service to someone else. Now that you’ve got some sober time under your belt, you’re in an excellent position to offer support to someone new to recovery. In addition to helping someone else stay sober, paying it forward can enrich your own recovery by reminding you of how far you’ve come and how much you have to offer other people.

The most important thing to remember when you feel yourself slipping into a recovery rut is that you do not have to struggle alone. It’s normal to experience ups and downs in this journey and what matters most is that you ask for help when you need it. 

Do you ever experience recovery ruts? What are your tips for getting through them? Share with us in the comments! 


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