What Should I Consider Before Making a Big Change in My Sober Life?

For many adults in recovery from an addiction, there comes a time when you want to make a big change in your life. Deciding to find a new job, filing for divorce or getting into couple’s counseling, having a baby, moving to another town or state, writing a book, and going back to school are just a few of the big changes people consider.

For those new to recovery, good for you for having the desire to change your life, first of all by getting substance free! Counselors, therapists and precepts of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous suggest not to make big changes to your life soon after getting sober. Sometimes one can act on impulse without considering the consequences of their actions. Being impulsive can backfire, cause undue stress and, in some instances, trigger a slip or relapse. In other situations, it could be necessary to make a big change for your personal safety. The following are a few suggestions to help you think things through before making a change.

Make a list of the pros and cons. Put the pros on one side of a piece of paper, and the cons on the other, or just make two columns. You may find one list longer than the other. This information, alone, can carry a lot of weight in making your decision.  

It may seem obvious to you why you want to make a certain change. Still, it’s worthwhile to give yourself the chance to reflect on your desire. Ask yourself the reasons you want to make this change. Is there anything you’re avoiding or from which you want to run. Facing difficult emotions is hard. Therapy can help. Geographical cures are prone to boomerang.

Are there other actions you can take that won’t be as disruptive or stressful? Think about what is working in your life right now. Are you grateful for what you have? Is your goal genuine? Without being conscious, you may decide to make a change because you admire someone else’s accomplishments. You want to be just like them. In sobriety, as in all aspects of life, you have your own, individual path. Honor it. Make changes for yourself, rather than from a position of comparison or desire to impress others, and always give yourself permission to change your mind.

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.”― Robert Frost

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