The moment we accept the whole truth—first, that we have a substance use disorder, and then, that it touches all parts of us–our bodies, our thinking, and our hearts and souls, too—that’s when we start living as a whole, undivided person. These truths are one important form of “living with integrity,” followed by accessing the tools that help you gain and grow your sobriety. As recovery is progressive, it helps you to grow into a whole, undivided person.
A selection of trusted resources here will help you, wherever you are on the path.
Stop and reflect: Do I really have SUDs?
If you’d like more information about SUDs, you can go to www.SAMHSA.gov.
When the supporters need support
If you’re a caregiver, the mother from Chapter Ten of The Little Book of Recovery recommends www.Shatterproof.org as a great resource.
Collegiate recovery and young adults
Collegiate Recovery Centers are becoming more prevalent. You can learn more at ARHE’s https://collegiaterecovery.org/.
Or SAFE Project: www.safeproject.us
If you’re a graduate who wants to stay connected with other graduates in recovery, SAFE Project has created an app called ReconnectED. For more information, go to: www.safeproject.us/campuses/reconnected/.
If you’re a young adult looking for an app which uses the Twelve Steps of Recovery, go to https://hazelden.org/store/item/320133
Organizations with Meetings that Suggest Abstinence, and New Tools
There are three well-known organizations that help you to learn how to abstain from alcohol and drugs. They are at 12 Step meetings, Recovery Dharma, and Smart Recovery meetings. Each of these organizations offer free meetings with differing tools.
The one I know best is 12 Step Recovery, since that’s the one I practice, and it is essentially a program of spirituality. Once there, when you’re ready, you work with a sponsor who helps to walk you through the Steps. When I say it’s spiritual, I mean there is discussion of a higher power, which is anything outside of yourself you can call upon to help you gain and grow your sobriety. It can be God, or Nature, or really anything bigger than you that helps you to maintain a happy, healthy recovery.The rationale for needing a higher power is that at some point we must concede we need help outside ourselves–not just to get sober, but to grow into a place of steadiness and joy. An amazing student named Caleb sent me his thesis on poetry and Recovery, and he quoted from a poem by Michael Robbins that I’m cribbing, because it says it so well:
I never took another drink. I’m not sure why not. I don’t think it had anything To do with me. — From WALKMAN by Michael Robbins
12 Step is a program of suggestions. If anyone had told me I had to do something, I would have walked right out. I imagine suggestions are also how Recovery Dharma and Smart Recovery lay out their practices.
Recovery Dharma uses Buddhist practice and principles. Smart Recovery is a non-spiritual program of self-management practices. Each of these organizations has meetings, most daily. It’s likely you will find 12 Step meetings the most plentiful because the practice has so many participants around the world. For example, in my small hometown of Knoxville, there are at least six meetings each day.
There is no charge for 12 Step, Recovery Dharma or Smart Recovery meetings. They typically pass a basket to collect $1 or $2 for rent, but I’ve never had any experience where one is pressured to pay anything.
Sober or Sober-Curious Organizations, and Online support
There are so many organizations, such as Sobervoices.co, an organization that organizes events for those exploring their sobriety, to Retiredpartygirl.com, a membership and empowerment organization for women. For online support, try verywellmind.com for recommended groups and apps for those looking for abstinence or moderation, faith-based or secular.
Pleasure Unwoven, a personal journey about addiction, by Kevin McCauley. This video can be streamed on Vimeo (for a fee) or the DVD can be purchased on Amazon. Details here.
Overview, Planetary Collective
TED Talk: Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong, by Johann Hari. He says, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”
Whose am I? | Susan Packard | TEDxUCLA
Voices of Recovery from the Campus: Stories of and by College Students in Recovery from Addiction by Lisa Laitman, Dr. Linda Costigan Lederman and Irene Silos. (for students)
Substance Abuse Recovery in College: Community Supported Abstinence by Harrington Cleveland, Kitty S. Harris, Richard P. Wiebe. (for administrators)
Anything by Melody Beattie or Gregory Boyle
Tools of Recovery
- Sober friends
- CRC (Collegiate Recovery Centers)
- 12 Step
- Gratitude list
- Recovery dharma
How Friends Help Us to Manage Stress*
When we turn a threat into a challenge, our body responds differently. Our friendship communities help us to do that. Molecular biologists have found that stress wears down our telomeres, which are the caps on our DNA that protect us and help us to live longer. This wearing down occurs from both physical and emotional stress. Here’s how we turn ‘stress’ into ‘challenge’:
- Notice your body when we’re feeling stressed.
- Acknowledge these feelings as natural and human.
- Go quickly to connection: “I am never alone.” Think of friends you can reach out to.
Create a Friendships Diagram
Draw a large circle. Then draw a smaller circle inside the big one, then a smaller one inside that. You will end up with three circles, each within one another.
On the very inside, write in your closest friend(s) name. With this person(s), you feel completely safe. You could tell them anything and you know they wouldn’t judge you, only love and support you. You know if you called to talk or visit, they would drop everything and be there. You can belly laugh with them, and cry with them without embarrassment.
On the next outside circle, write in friends you know, who you could call on when really needed. You have fun with these friends, and you feel somewhat safe with them.
On the largest circle, write in others you know casually. This includes those you’ve met on social media.
Do you have at least one person in the smallest circle?
As human beings, we need at least one person in that smallest circle. When you see on your diagram that you have such a person(s) in your life, send out a gratitude blessing for them.
Use whatever words work for you to do that.
*Taken from The Book of Joy, pgs. 98-99. Authors: His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams
How to Grow Self-Worth and Self-Love
- Monitor your self-talk, so it’s how you would to your best friend. Your self-talk should always be respectful. There’s a recovery friend who has a sticky on her mirror that says: “Leave her the hell alone.” That’s one version of respectful talk.
- Affirm yourself at least once a day. Say: “I am worthy. I am good. I am beautiful.”
- Ask yourself: What’s the promise of me? What are all the things I could become? Journal about the promise of you that’s unfolding.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh many times a day, including at yourself.
- Make your soul visible to others through kindness and compassion. It’s a weird thing about our human natures, but we love ourselves a whole lot more when we’re useful to others. When I was drinking, the only time I felt really good about myself was when I delivered meals to those who couldn’t get out. My hangovers would go away for those three hours.
- Take a walk in the sun.
- Bike on a nature trail.
- Choose healthy food. (although have that cookie too!)
- Rub on lotion after a shower.
- Get enough sleep.
- Save a little money and get a massage.
- Eat dark chocolate.
- Sleep in clean sheets.
- Write or journal.
- Learn something not school-related, like the background of one of your heroes.
- Plan a trip.
- Find puzzles you love to do, then do them.
- Light candles for no reason.
- Hug your pets, or if a friend has them, go visit and hug theirs. (I hug my cats all the time. They get used to it!)
- Attend recovery meetings.
- Spend time with your sponsor or other recovery friends.
- Cook. Draw. Garden.
- Meditate. Pray.
- Say No when something feels like it’s too much.
If you’d like to contact me or any of the storytellers in The Little Book of College Sobriety, send me a message here.