Now What?: Tips to Support Making Positive Changes with Substance Use
Written by Lee Ann Heathcoat, MSEd, LCPC
Millions of individuals are affected yearly with a substance use disorder. Many individuals seeking help with substance use don't know where to start to make changes and think if they simply no longer use the substances, they'll be ok. Making healthy changes with substance use is a complex issue requiring individuals to explore many facets of their lives. Below are few suggestions to help support healthy changes for substance use.
1. Examining Triggers: In learning about triggers (people, places, things, emotions) individuals can gain greater insight as to how triggers can decrease falling back into unhealthy patterns. Being able to learn healthy coping skills (communication skills, managing life stressors, boundaries, etc.) and specific strategies related to individual triggers can increase the chances of successful long-term changes.
2. Social Supports: Making change is challenging and having individuals you can trust to help you while on your journey is important. A great place to meet new social supports is attending community support group meetings (AA, NA, HA, Smart Recovery, etc.). Community support meetings are ways to connect with other like-minded individuals working on making healthy changes. Becoming involved in community organizations (church, community services clubs, etc.) is another avenue to explore when building a new social support system. Seeking out a counselor or mentor is another way to build social supports while making healthy changes. Being able to lean on a strong social support network can assist in supporting ongoing changes for the long term.
3. Sober Leisure Activities: Having a way to manage leisure activities can be a new concept when sober; however, it's an important part of leading a balanced life. Being newly sober can be an opportunity to reengage in leisure activities that were once enjoyable. It's also a time to explore new undertakings that previously weren't options.
Making change is a process and the suggestions above are just a few examples used to begin the journey of making healthy changes related to substance use. If you're interested in additional supports, please contact us at OakHeart Center to schedule an appointment; 630-570-0050