In many ways, addiction can be explained as a neuroplastic event.
When addicted to a substance, our brain deepens its pathways of habits. But these trenches aren’t poured with concrete.
The brain is malleable, changeable, and more impressive than we have yet to discover. This concept, called neuroplasticity, is the white light shining through the bleakest addiction stories.
Staying sober after rehabilitation requires forming new neural pathways. This is how we break out of old habits and begin forming new ones.
Otherwise, we are bound to the roads most traveled in our mindscapes, which means habitual substance use. And we all know how toxic that is.
Here are 7 tips to re-shape your brain to prevent relapse.
1. Think, “What Would Make Me Proud of Myself?”
Checking in with yourself is a good place to start on your road of recovery.
Make a list of the aspects of yourself that you’re most proud of. Omit physical traits and focus on personality characteristics.
How can you heighten those? How can you expand upon those?
Knowing what you value helps you bring more of that into your life. If you value your humor, look into something like stand-up comedy. If you value resiliency, look into something like endurance sports.
The idea is to create an external realm that matches your internal realm. Continue learning more about yourself and fine-tuning your world to encourage and support you.
2. Continue Initiating Change
In shifting your external realm, you’ll welcome infinite opportunities to change. Change can be tough (you’re changing neuropathways, after all) but a new life is what you’re looking for, right?
When the old ways don’t work, toss them overboard and invite newness. You know that drinking doesn’t work for you, so throw it to the wayside.
Along with the habit itself, kick out everything that’s associated with drinking. This may mean drinking hangout spots or drinking buddies.
These no longer serve you, as your views and priorities are in the process of re-aligning.
Get creative with your life. How can you rework what’s in front of you to create something new?
3. Remove Yourself From Toxic Relationships
A key place to start with creating a new life is assessing your relationships. Do your relationships serve you?
This is an area of your life to get cut-and-dry. Even if you’ve known someone for a long time, you can’t have them around if they’re hindering your growth. Especially on the arduous journey of recovery.
Removing yourself from toxic relationships shouldn’t result in isolation. As you begin filtering through the people around you, continue growing your circle. Find local support groups where you can find peers going through the same things.
4. Incorporate Exercise
You can find support groups through exercise. Make friends with similar interests that aren’t substance abuse.
Exercise gives you structure, productive use of time, community, achievements, and health benefits.
When you exercise, your brain releases neurotransmitters. These include endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Essentially, these neurotransmitters regulate your emotions and brain functions.
Similarly, alcoholism affects your brain’s release of dopamine and serotonin. By exercising through recovery, you will boost your brain’s ability to re-stabilize itself. Plus, it will increase your ability to learn and remember.
Along with mental benefits, exercise has obvious and numerous physical benefits. It helps regulate metabolism, cardiovascular functions, and the lymphatic system. This will help your body through recovery as its regaining homeostasis.
5. Eat Clean
If you pair exercise with nutritious eating, you’ll feel so much better through the recovery process.
Research shows there are many foods that help with detox. Additionally, studies show that nutrition components such as gut hormones affect our emotions and cognitive processes. Grab a kombucha or other fermented foods and get your gut happy.
What we eat fuels our bodies and minds. It’s important to eat as healthy as possible to give ourselves the best opportunity to thrive and succeed.
On the note of eating clean, remember that your goal is to become independent of substances. In addition to alcohol, this may include nicotine and caffeine. The idea is to re-orient your body’s systems to regulate itself, without any additives.
6. Staying Sober Requires Creating Structure
You can create stability through structured living. This could mean an exercise schedule, meal planning, or daily organization tasks.
Structure creates security and clarity in your life. It’s easier to accomplish goals, such as sobriety, when there’s less chaos and changing variables surrounding you.
In addition to the general goal of sobriety, create short- and long-term goals. Make short-term goals that seem impossible to fail at, such as staying sober for one hour or taking out the trash.
Building up your success rate and confidence through small steps helps you advance towards long-term goals.
7. Look Outside of Yourself
While it’s your own recovery process, don’t overlook the need for outside support.
Humans have always gravitated toward creating a community. Think about what we know of tribes. Each member has a specific role so that everyone can take care of each other.
We discussed support groups of peers earlier, which is crucial to success. To supplement that, consider various professional therapies.
Psychotherapy is an umbrella category of treatment. It covers therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychoanalysis. Even if you haven’t participated in any therapy before, it may be beneficial and helpful to your process. Learning the workings of your mind in a structured setting helps you heal traumas and wounds.
You can also choose to seek out holistic therapies (scroll down to view what we have to offer). The list includes massage, acupuncture, amino acid replenishment, and more. Using external resources gives you the best chance to not only recover but to become the best version of yourself that you’ve ever been.
You’re doing the right thing. The right thing isn’t always the easy thing, especially when it comes to staying sober.
Continue thinking and acting in ways that will transform your life. It’s yours and nothing is set in stone.
Give us a call if you have any questions or if you’re interested in any supportive services.