Addiction doesn’t have a cure, and recovery takes daily work. But there are good habits that helped many addicts on their way to sobriety. And part of being of service is sharing your story with others. Recovering alcoholic Alexandra Barr gathered the 3 things that helped her the most.
1) Sharing my journey to help others.
I physically got sober by myself (not recommended!). I checked myself in the E.R my first 24 hours sober, but I didn’t actually tell anyone that I was attempting to sober up. I was a perfectionist at the time and if I failed at sobriety, I would have been humiliated! But if I could change one thing in my entire life, it would be to have tell someone before I attempted to get sober.
When I finally started telling people (about 2 weeks in), I started feeling better emotionally and mentally. I eventually started a blog and podcast that I now run on a daily basis. I share my stories, tips for sobriety, eg. how to meet more sober people, what to do with sober friends, how it’s totally okay to be awkward and relearn communication skills, all of that kind of stuff.
It was, and still is, insanely mind-blowing to me that so many people feel the exact same way that I do. Sharing all of that helped me so much. It is one of the most important parts of how I work the program today.
Even though what we go through in sobriety is awful and beyond challenging and exhausting, I am so grateful to not be alone in it. Once I started reaching out, speaking in meetings, doing my podcast, interviewing other sober people, I just kept feeling better and stronger in my sobriety. Taking on positions in AA is also a great way to meet more sober people and to start sharing with others.
2) Physical Exercise – I started using running as meditation, emotional release, and anxiety relief.
I mentally knew 2 years before I actually got sober that I would need to get sober in the near future. I was having liver and pancreas issues and complications and I just knew for me that it was sober up or die – literally. So I had to do something for my anxiety that surrounded getting sober.
After researching a bit, I figured I would pick up running and see if it worked. Holy moly did it work for me! I learned how to use running and physical exercise as meditation. It gave me time to process my emotions and whatever was going on in my life at the time. I really used that time to learn how to dismantle my debilitating anxiety.
What I was really doing, without even knowing it was practicing the ‘keep it simple’. I was taking my problems in life, breaking them down, and learning how to make them simple. Then I could start working on them and figuring out how to solve things in an easier way instead of having a panic attack, anxiety for days, and bottles of vodka.
I still run a lot because it’s definitely a tool I use for my sobriety, it’s preventative when I process things during exercise, and it keeps my depression and anxiety at bay.
3) Nutrition – So along with alcoholism, I also had eating disorders that started to develop around 9th grade. In my early sobriety I couldn’t eat anything except for Jolly Ranchers and flavored sparkling water, literally. My boss at the time bought me the biggest bag of Jolly Ranchers when I was like a month sober, and I just remember always eating candy.
This happens because our bodies are so used to so much sugar coming from alcohol, and we start craving all kinds of sugars. Luckily I had taken up running so I didn’t gain weight from getting sober – but it’s important to say here that you need to have grace with yourself when you do get sober.
Gaining weight, having outbursts, being exhausted all of the time can and probably will happen, but I promise you to the moon and back it is worth it. Once I was able to eat normally I leaned towards a vegetarian diet that was just loaded with fresh veggies and fruits.
I still eat this way today because sobriety only works if you constantly work at it. Nutrition and keeping my mind right with good fuel is a very important part of my program as well. I also joined Eating Disorders Anonymous groups and Zoom meetings, and listened to podcasts and other things like that. It’s so important to learn and know your own triggers so you can have a handle on and be ready for anything thrown your way in sobriety.
I always tell myself that healing is not a linear process. You have to hold yourself accountable, forgive yourself and really learn to start liking yourself. It’s so much work, it just honestly is but it is worth it, and more importantly you deserve it.
I’m Alexandra B, I live in NYC and my Dry Date is 11/16/2017. During that time I have learned to embrace everything that my alcohol addiction and sobriety has thrown my way. Early on I realized how relatable and helpful my story is for others, and so I created my blog and podcast and started becoming genuine friends with my sober supporters and followers. My Barr Above podcast can be found on Spotify, I am also on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – so you can always find me if you need a sober friend or person to talk to. Throughout my sobriety I have learned so much about myself: I’ve been able to get a handle on my anxiety, I’ve been able to embrace my sexuality, and most importantly I have started to learn how to love and trust myself again.