By Peter Giannini, Drummer for Chaser Eight
Getting clean and sober is different than remaining clean and sober. As people in recovery from addiction, we must be aware that we are always recovering. At the start of your recovery process, the more sacrifices and hard work you put in from the start, the easier it will eventually become.
Most people in recovery don’t want to give up something they should, and that’s what causes their relapse. Whether it’s the places they hang out, the people they think are their friends, or an old habit they won’t give up, most recovering people find the start the most difficult part.
I was asked for five things that helped me get, and stay, sober. These are some of my “tools”, not in any particular order, and they worked for me, and I hope that they may help you.
1. Eliminate associations.
The most important tool for me was completely eliminating any association with anyone remotely related to drugs. This step was the most difficult, too, as I had surrounded myself with bad people. If they got high, sold drugs, or hung out with people that had any drug habits, I cut them completely out.
2. Seek professional help.
Therapy is key to learn how to readjust and deal with life’s daily grind without ‘losing it.’ Most people, including myself, don’t think they need help, or can figure it out on their own. Keep in mind that your addition has drastically changed your chemistry, both mentally and physically. It’s not as easy as you think, so do it right: get help.
3. Stay away from negativity.
Surround yourself with positive people. Being in an atmosphere full of negativity is not going to help. It may be unfortunate, but regardless who they are, if they’re not positive, they are not helping you. Examples: The friend who is always looking for a fight, the girl who’s forever fighting with her boyfriend and bringing it your way, the complainer, the drama queen and the list goes on. You know whom they are, so stay away. Sober relationships are about healthy living.
4. Outsource your money management.
By now, I’m sure your finances are a mess. It’s also clear that you’re not in a great position to handle them. Hopefully, you have someone you can trust fully to control your money. Worse comes to worse? Ask a sibling, parent, or relative if you have to. The excuse of being too old to let someone handle your money is just that, an excuse.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have my wife handle my money, and as such she wasn’t letting me remotely near it even if I begged. I did not have an ATM card, I direct deposited my paycheck, and did not carry any cash in my pocket. That’s how it had to be in order for me to successful, and at first, I was pretty upset about it. After the first few months, I adjusted (not like I had a choice), and I was fortunate that my wife stood very strong in this process.
5. Stay super busy.
Down time is bad time. Staying busy from morning till night is very important! To be scheduled is OK, especially in your beginning stages of sobriety. If you give yourself nothing to do, your mind will wander. Dangerous! The key is finding a routine that is not only positive, but time consuming.
My day was fully booked from the time I got up until bed, and yes, for quite a while, it was the same thing day after day. (My schedule: get up, shower, go to work. Come home, cook dinner for the family, eat, and then off to band practice. That schedule changed on nights I was in therapy or group. On other nights, it was doing something with my wife or family). Yes, it was very scheduled and structured like that that for many months, but it was necessary.
What helped you get sober?
Again, these are just some tools that helped me to get and stay sober. Every situation is different, and if you can adjust some of what I said to help you, you’ll be that much better off. Or maybe you can share what worked for you in the comments section.
Good luck and best wishes on your journey.
Pete Giannini is the drummer for Connecticut based band Chaser Eight and is a recovering crack addict (he is now five years sober).