As the new year approaches, those in addiction recovery may find themselves reflecting on the very often bumpy journey of sobriety and all the good things it has brought into their life.
The start of a new year may feel daunting to many people, particularly those at the threshold of abstinence.
After many years of drug use, drinking, and all the hurdles you’ve overcome to achieve sobriety, you must recognise how well you’ve done and how hard you have worked in turning your life around and freeing yourself from active addiction.
Studies show that the festive period can pose a significant challenge to individuals in recovery as it is littered with various temptations and triggers, including more substantial quantities of alcohol, food and, in some cases, drugs being available.
It’s also possible that past New Year’s Eve events involved you binge drinking or taking drugs to avoid or numb unwanted feelings, emotions and memories.
However, your sobriety signals that you’re ready to face your struggles without having to reach for the bottle, food, or drug of choice.
As the new year beckons, committing to reaffirming your sober intentions with unwavering resolve can be immensely beneficial and can set your new year off in the right direction.
This article explores ways to reaffirm your sober intentions for the new year, including practical strategies you can implement if you find yourself struggling.
If you are worried about your mental health or have any questions or concerns about addiction treatment or relapse, contact a friendly team member at White River Manor who can help.
We provide various personalised mental health and addiction treatment programs that help you manage your addiction and get to the root cause of your drinking or drug-taking.
Get in touch with our team in South Africa today for further support and information.
Reaffirming your sober intentions for the new year
The new year represents a fresh start, a chance to reflect on any achievements and lessons learned over the past twelve months.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to build upon the foundation of sobriety you have achieved throughout the previous months.
Moreover, recognising the value of connection and support networks, whether through family, friends or individuals on a similar journey as you is another crucial component of lasting recovery and sobriety.
By reaffirming your sober intentions and engaging in self-care practices, such as mindfulness and meditation, you will be better placed to navigate the coming year with a fresh mind, a healthier perspective, and a more profound commitment to a substance-free life.
Below are five practical ways you can reaffirm your sober intentions for the new year:
1. Set clear goals for the new year ahead
Each individual will have different goals when it comes to maintaining their sobriety.
However, a good rule of thumb is to be specific and realistic about your goals and intentions for the upcoming year.
Whether you intend to focus on your sobriety or improve your overall health (or both), clearly defined objectives provide the direction you’ll need to achieve whatever goals you set for yourself.
This practice can also reaffirm your intention to remain sober and healthy throughout the new year and beyond.
2. Cultivate a strong support system
There’s no substitute for having a solid network of friends, family and community cheering you on as you navigate a life of sobriety and move towards healthier goals and intentions.
Being around people who understand and encourage your commitment to sobriety can help reinforce your decision to quit unhealthy habits and behaviours.
It can also be the fuel that enables you to move through the positive and not-so-positive moments.
Moreover, sharing your goals and intentions with others strengthens your accountability and commitment to staying sober in the upcoming year.
3. Celebrate your sobriety milestones
Start as you mean to go on by celebrating your sobriety milestones.
Whether you have been sober for a month, six months or a year, recognising your achievements and hard work helps reaffirm your commitment to sobriety, setting the intention for a happy, healthy, substance-free year ahead.
The road to sobriety can be profoundly challenging, and you must recognise just how far you’ve come in transforming your life and turning things around for the better.
Moreover, celebrating any wins and achievements along the way can help reaffirm your sober intentions for the new year ahead, minimising your risk of relapse.
4. Continue educating yourself
Staying informed about the many benefits of sobriety and the potential risks associated with substance use can be hugely beneficial to those in addiction recovery.
Among many things, it can be a helpful way to reinforce whatever sober intentions individuals set themselves for the year ahead.
Furthermore, educating yourself helps enhance your understanding of why maintaining sobriety is essential for overall health and happiness.
Everyone’s intentions to remain sober will be different.
For example, your goals may be focused on your health, personal development or the well-being of your family.
No matter your intentions, staying up-to-date with addiction recovery insights and resources can help you navigate the holiday season and start the new year off on the best foot possible!
5. Cultivate self-compassion and empathy
It’s important to understand just how common setbacks are in addiction recovery. Experts explain that “relapse is not necessary for recovery, but it is a common experience for most”.
Setbacks in the recovery journey often signify areas that need more focus in an individual’s treatment plan and adjustments that need to be made. It’s helpful to view them as a learning experience that will help you develop additional strategies to prevent similar situations arising in the future.
By practising self-compassion and learning from challenges and setbacks, you can use them as opportunities for growth and development to help you come back stronger.
Whether you’ve experienced a relapse or not, incorporating self-compassion and being kind to yourself on a daily basis should be part of your plan as you reaffirm your sober intentions and set a positive trajectory for the upcoming year.
The association between alcohol, drugs and celebration
Alcohol and drugs have long been traditionally associated with celebration in various societies and cultures and for many reasons.
Understanding these associations can help explain why they have become deeply embedded within celebratory occasions like the holiday season and New Year’s Eve.
Moreover, recognising these long-held traditions can help you avoid engaging in these unhealthy behaviours in the future.
Let’s explore some of these associations in a bit more detail:
- Drugs and alcohol are often viewed as a “symbol of indulgence”. In various cultures, the consumption of specific drugs or alcohol is associated with indulgence, social etiquette and abundance. For example, during occasions such as New Year’s Eve, people may feel obligated to consume substances like drugs or alcohol as a way of marking the turn of a new year.
- Alcohol is often looked at as a “social lubricant”. When thinking about how alcohol can ease interactions and promote a sense of togetherness and fun, it’s no wonder people engage in excessive drinking during special occasions. Alcohol has a way of lowering people’s inhibitions, allowing them to feel more relaxed and confident, particularly during celebrations or cultural festivities.
- Toasting rituals. It is common within specific cultures to “make a toast” or “raise a glass” to mark a special occasion. Raising a glass and making a celebratory toast is a deeply ingrained tradition in some cultures and seen by many as a natural part of a celebration or festivity.
- Escaping stress or unwanted feelings. Many turn to substances to help them cope during the festive period or some other cultural celebration. Certain occasions, such as birthdays, Easter, and the festive season, can trigger various unwanted feelings and emotions for some people. The idea that substances such as drugs or alcohol can provide a temporary escape or relief may contribute to an individual’s association with celebratory moments and substance use.
Celebrating a sober year ahead
As mentioned, transitioning into a new year can be a daunting prospect for many, particularly those in addiction recovery.
However, by positively reframing your perspective on what the new year may bring, you can use this transition as an opportunity to set your sober intentions for the months ahead.
As well as the strategies already mentioned, the tips below can also help you stay focused and reaffirm your sober intentions for the upcoming year:
- Focus on your well-being and personal growth.
- Pursue your long-held goals, dreams, or ambitions.
- Embrace the benefits of journaling.
- Engage in mindful practices such as meditation, deep breathing or gratitude exercises.
- Keep up with your addiction treatment plan such as group therapy, behavioural therapies, trauma-specific therapy, and the 12-step program.
A note from White River Manor
Celebrating a sober new year can prove challenging at times.
After all, addiction recovery is lifelong and can often test you in many ways, some more unpleasant than others.
However, it is also a testament to your commitment to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lifestyle.
We invite you to embrace this opportunity to welcome the new year with clarity and gratitude, surrounded by those who elevate your spirit and support you in your sobriety journey.
And we are here to help you do all this and more.
Addiction treatment at White River Manor
We provide a holistic treatment program shaped around your personal preferences and therapeutic needs.
This includes various elements from the traditional 12-Step program, a model that provides a solid foundation for addiction recovery.
Using a combination of traditional methods, ancient philosophy and cutting-edge science, the team at White River Manor treats the whole person and not just the addiction.
Our personalised, holistic approach ensures deep transformational healing and a lasting recovery.
We understand that recovery is a lifelong pursuit of positive habit building, maintaining mental well-being and avoiding triggers, which is why we also include a complete aftercare plan to support you following treatment.
We are here to guide and support you and your loved ones every step of the way during your recovery and beyond.
1. How To Love Your Sober Year, Hello Someday Coaching
2. Getting back on track with your goal – keeping up with your sober streak, Hello Sunday Morning, 4 February, 2022