HOW you stay sober differs — it depends on your current relationship with substances like alcohol, marijuana, painkillers, heroin or other drugs. Obviously, the approach of a person who is just dabbling in drugs will be different from that of a person who has just finished a rehabilitation programme.
Here are some categories related to drug abuse and sobriety — where do you stand at the moment?
1. You haven’t started to use drugs or drinks yet.
Chances are pretty good that you are fairly young, maybe a teenager. You’ve probably seen some of your friends drinking, smoking pot or sneaking pills. You may have also seen adults use more of these substances than would be good for them.
How do you stay drug-free and sober?
In your life, you’re going to find yourself at many crossroads like this. The decision you make now is yours alone. No one else really has to live with the consequences.
Will it hurt you to use drugs or drink once or twice? For some people, just one time of using drugs or drinking starts them on a pattern that never has an end. It’s impossible to tell ahead of time where “experimental” use will take you. It’s a far better idea to look at your plans and goals for the future and focus on those. If you don’t have any goals or plans, this makes it far easier to fall into substance abuse because you have nothing to lose. Make plans of your own choosing.
2. You have started using drugs or drinking but are not really running into problems.
You’re hanging out with friends who smoke pot or drink and sometimes there’s some pills passed around. Someone smokes something harder sometimes, like meth or heroin. But you’re still doing well on your job or at school. It’s just something to relax you or to have fun occasionally.
How do you preserve and maintain your own sobriety?
One of the most important things you could realise right now is that drug or alcohol use are barriers to productivity, accomplishment, good health and happy relationships. That’s just a fact. Ask anyone who has been using these drugs for several years about these aspects of their lives.
If you’re using drugs or alcohol to have “fun” or relax, you need to find other satisfying ways of relaxing or enjoying yourself. Drugs and drinking are dead ends that will eventually provide the opposite experiences. It’s not relaxing or enjoyable to be arrested or overdose or to watch someone else overdose. If you’re not sure what to replace them with, look at activities you used to like when you were younger that you may have given up on.
Staying sober is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
λ Mthandazo Ndlovu is a drug prevention and rehabilitation specialist. For more information and help contact 00263772399734 or email [email protected] and join the Rechabites in building drug-free, healthy and productive lives.