5 Things to Help the Sober Addict Feel Better

5 Things to Help the Sober Addict Feel Better

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This post was originally published on June 17, 2014.

Having a shitty time of sobriety lately? Don’t worry—it happens to the best of us. Sadly, getting clean does not mean your life is magically cured of any and all issues, pains, or problems. But if you want relief, you can always try one of these five things sober people can do to feel better!

1) Eat all the tasty, sugary things.

There’s a reason chocolate (and sweet stuff in general) is recommended in the AA book Living Sober as an exciting new habit to take up when you’re missing your drug of choice. Not only is comfort food possibly good for your mental health, but it gives you a fantastic natural high. Of course, that high will eventually wear off, which sucks, but hey. Pleasure can’t last forever.

2) Reach out to friends.

There’s nothing quite like connecting with great friends—preferably ones who know you super-well and never balk at lending you an easy, comfortable, understanding ear. Addicts and alkies are prone to isolation, especially when they’re having a rough time—it can just feel easier, to us, to hide away and hole up at home with our trusted TV sets than to get out and expose ourselves to the misery of, you know, being outside. In any case, it sounds trite, but try calling a good friend next time you feel crappy.

3) Go to the movies.

As I mentioned above, lots of addicted peeps have a tendency to make like a hermit and hang at home on our own. This makes for the perfect setting for us to dive headfirst into a seasons-long binge of The Wire or Parenthood or wtf ever your show of choice may be; pick your poison (me, I have about 45 of them). While there’s always a time and a place for TV marathons, leaving of your house and going to an actual theater will probably help lift your spirits a little more. Try it.

4) Do volunteer or sponsorship work or service or whatever.

Sponsorship is promoted heavily in the 12-step world and there’s good reason for that because it doesn’t just help the other person, it helps the person doing the helping. In other words, if you do something good for someone else, you end up doing good for both them and yourself. It’s pretty hard to obsess about your oh-so-important problems when you’re throwing together meals at a soup kitchen for a long-ass line of homeless folks. Same goes for meeting a sponsee to hear her fourth step, or even just meeting her for coffee.

5) Find something to throw yourself into.

Similar to #4 above, when you’re feeling shitty, one way of distracting yourself is, obvs, to simply redirect your focus to something, well, less shitty. You need to find something you care about, something you enjoy, something that feels bigger than you, and then throw yourself into pursuing that something come hell or high water. I swear it will help take you out of your own head—and your own misery.

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Laura Barcella is a freelance writer, editor and author from Washington, DC. She currently works as the Weekend Editor for xoJane. Her writing has also appeared in Salon, Esquire.com, Elle.com, Refinery29, AlterNet, CNN.com, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl and NYLON. Her book credits include Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.