From a young age we are sent many conflicting messages about drugs and alcohol. On the one hand we’re told they’re bad and to stay away. On the other, we’re told that adults deserve a drink at the end of the day to cope with normal life, that moms need their “mommy juice,” and that not drinking is a sign of weakness or weirdness. However, these societal norms become dangerous when they justify our unhealthy and destructive coping mechanisms, like drinking or using drugs to deal with the ups and downs of life. The reality is you do not need to use drugs and alcohol to cope with life, but chances are you’ve already done this at least once or twice, and for many it becomes unmanageable quickly. Here are some tips on how to cope without using drugs and alcohol.
1 - Own your sobriety
I can’t think of many people who want to get sober. It’s generally a last resort, when we are all out of options and the pain is so great we need to change. Over time, sobriety becomes something we choose rather than something we accept. Coping without the use of drugs and alcohol begins with trusting that drugs and alcohol don’t work, or no longer work. What these substances do is numb emotions and make you momentarily forget, which does not get rid of your life problems. In many cases these substances create new problems or make current problems worse. Owning your sobriety is owning your choice to live substance-free and forces you to stay committed to coping with life on life’s terms. In a way, you have no choice but to cope, however you’ll also learn healthy, productive ways to deal with life.
2 - Live authentically
In many cases alcohol and drugs empower us to use coping mechanisms or engage in behavioral patterns that aren’t authentic to who we really are, like lying, cheating, or stealing. And those unhealthy ways of coping leave a destructive path that is difficult to cope with. Living sober we start to live authentically, which includes learning about our true beliefs and moral values and living with awareness. Being able to pause, make conscious decisions, and apologize when you make mistakes are all ways of living authentically. Living in this manner will allow you to cope in a way that’s constructive and not destructive.
3 - Commit to your healing
Many people think we automatically learn how to cope with life after cutting out drugs and alcohol, but that’s not the case. Recovery is a process that is ongoing, and you must commit to your healing in order to progress. Each year you’re sober you learn more and learning new, healthy coping mechanisms is part of the intense work of your sobriety. Learning how exactly you go about your daily life without using drugs and alcohol to cope is a big lesson, but it won’t work if you don’t commit to your own healing. Your healing must become a priority. You must have the desire to and put the time in to do the work and stay committed. This is one of the best ways to ensure you can learn how to cope with life without using harmful substances.
4 - Put your coping mechanisms to work
It’s not enough to just learn about coping mechanisms and sobriety. You must dig deep and put your coping mechanisms to work. Recovery requires a lot. It requires you to quit using harmful substances, to become aware about the world around you and to learn new coping mechanisms and healthy life skills. You can do all of this, but it will require time and dedication. It’s worth it and will ultimately lead to living a life where it’s no longer necessarily to cope with drugs and alcohol.
Alcohol, pills, and other drugs have unfortunately become an ingrained part of our society’s way to cope with life’s ups and downs. It’s not surprising that so many become addicted and cannot find their way out. If you need to hear someone say it, then listen to this message today, you do not need alcohol and drugs to cope with your life no matter what’s going on. Help and support are available, and it starts with making a decision to change. You have the power to make your life better, to cope in healthy ways, and to evolve into the best version of yourself.
About the Author
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine. She is