When you’re just getting started on the road to your alcohol or drug recovery, you hear frequently that you’ve got to change the people, places, and things in your life. This will involve giving up your substance of choice, so why do you have to change anything else? It’s because the same old people, places, and things can make the difference between a solid start to your recovery journey or relapsing back into the habits that fuel the disease.
Nobody will ever promise you that substance abuse treatment is without challenge. When you first begin your alcohol or drug recovery you may feel confident that you can get through this without giving up your friends who use. You may not realize that you need to distance yourself from those very people in order to protect your recovery and keep yourself healthy.
Unfortunately, the people that you’ve been spending time with are the ones most likely to catapult you catastrophically into relapse. There’s a sad dynamic involved, because they’re your friends, but they don’t want to use alone, and so it’s better for them if you do so with them “just this one last time.” You’ve got to remain strong about managing your own road to recovery, and realize that it’s their choice to stumble along without you.
Many people make the mistake of insisting that places carry no control over them and their ability to remain clean. But they do, because they remind you of the times you would have when you were using. Say you pass by a tavern where you’ve been a regular customer, you’ll notice that your mouth gets a little thirsty—or a lot. The same applies to places where you and your friends congregated for so-called parties. Memories are powerful things. You’ll make it easier if you avoid the places associated with your past drug use.
So we’ve talked about the faces of the people related to your substance abuse and the many places that you associate with your addiction. How can things affect you? The things represent what’s left in your life after you manage the people and the places. If you are motivated about alcohol or drug recovery, then you’ve got to change things like your habits and your attitude.
Perhaps the good old days saw you staying up all night watching movies and drinking. Now you tell yourself you can still stay up late as long as you don’t open up any alcohol. But the very nature of that behavior plays into the culture of addiction. Those types of things represent the triggers that will lead you to relapse. Maybe you never ate properly, because you were always on the run to the next party, the next high. Now it’s time to cook a healthy meal for yourself or your family and sit down to enjoy it.
It’s time to start meeting new people and discovering new places by attending group counseling or trying the 12-step meetings in your neighborhood. Yes, it’ll take a few meetings until you find the ones that fit you personally, but find them you will. Start reading the Big Book. Get plenty of sleep and drink water throughout the day. That’s how you manage the people, places, and things as part of your alcohol or drug recovery. If you haven’t yet made a phone call to a recovery center, it’s time to do so now.