Setting Priorities in Recovery

Blond sober woman planning priorities in recovery

One of the first things to go out the window during a person’s addiction is their priorities. During active addiction, we allow people to treat us in ways we usually wouldn’t tolerate. We say and do things we know we shouldn’t, and we hurt the people who care about us the most. Being hurtful isn’t intentional most of the time; it is usually a by-product of addiction. Addiction is a roller coaster ride of the worst kind, filled with some ups but mostly downs. It is a challenging ride to jump off once you are on it, and it can be hard to see the error of your ways until it is too late.

One of the best things about getting sober is the opportunity to reset your life. It isn’t an easy process, but it is possible to get your life back on track when done right. One of the most helpful things to do when getting sober is resetting your priorities. When it comes to a life of recovery, each person will need to find their own way and what works best for them.

From my own experience with addiction recovery, here are some of the most critical priorities I have found to benefit my life and my sobriety.

1. Mental wellbeing.

If we do not take care of our mental health, the rest of our life will suffer. The mind is connected to every aspect of a person’s life. When a person is not feeling well mentally, they will have a tough time getting through life and maintaining one’s responsibilities. While this is overlooked during active addiction, mental wellbeing is of the utmost importance for living a life of recovery.

2. Emotional wellbeing.

Emotional wellbeing is very similar and connected to mental wellbeing, but they are different aspects of a person’s life. A person who can learn how to deal with their emotions in a healthy manner can handle the stressful things that life throws at them without resorting to drugs or alcohol. Addiction will wreak havoc on a person’s emotions and cause them to a roller coaster in a dangerous way. Once a person can sober up and stabilize their emotions, they will begin to feel much better.

Runner is getting ready

3. Physical wellbeing.

One of the best things that a person can do for their physical health is to get sober. Drugs and alcohol are toxins that can destroy the body. The adverse health effects of using drugs and drinking alcohol are well documented by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health. When a person can stop using drugs, their physical health will begin to improve. A person in recovery must take good care of themself; the better a person feels physically, the less likely they will be to ruin that feeling using drugs and alcohol.

4. Healthy relationships.

For a person who wants to stay sober, then having healthy relationships will be vital. It is challenging for anyone to do well when they have people in their inner circle who secretly want them to fail. Toxic relationships will do nothing but drag a person down. If a person in recovery can work things out with someone who is toxic in their life, that is great, but if that person is unwilling to take responsibility for their destructive behavior and change, it may be time for moving on.

5. Healthy boundaries.

Before I got sober, I had a tough time establishing healthy boundaries with people. I thought that saying no was rude, and I had a hard time standing up for myself. But, now that I am sober, I can see that boundaries are helpful when it comes to sobriety. They are an essential aspect of living a healthy and happy life. The better I get at establishing limitations with the people in my life, the happier I am. I have also noticed that healthy boundaries lead to healthy relationships.

6. Honesty and Integrity.

Honesty is something that has become somewhat of a non-negotiable for me when it comes to my life. I have learned that I lived a life full of lies and deceit during my active addiction phase. These lies slowly built upon each other until they became a heavy burden to bear. To help ease the pain of that burden, temporarily, I would drink alcohol to excess. Now that I have gotten sober, I have learned even a small lie makes me feel unwell, and I have decided that the best course of action is always to tell the truth. Telling the truth is not always easy at first, but it sure is easier in the long run than dealing with the consequences of a lie.

Daughter takes care of her father

7. Fulfilling obligations.

It is a great feeling to know that people can count on you to do what you say you will do. Sometimes in active addiction, we can quickly lose our credibility and become unreliable to the people around us. Being unreliable slowly breaks down relationships over time. Being able to fulfill my obligations, be there for the people I love, and behave as a reliable friend has created unexpected benefits to getting sober.

8. Making time for fun.

People in addiction recovery must make time to have fun and do things they love. There is a common misconception that once a person gets sober, their life will be boring. Sobriety being boring couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything getting sober opens up the door for so many more possibilities. When you no longer spend all of your time drinking, nursing a hangover, and dealing with the consequences of your addiction, you have so much more time for other fulfilling actives.

9. Limiting negative influences.

Limiting negative influences is another essential aspect to not only staying sober but to living a healthy lifestyle. When we continually consume books, music, and social media posts that are negative, they begin to impact the way we think about ourselves, the world, and life in general. I learned early on the importance of guarding my heart and mind against things that would bring me down. I make a point to pay close attention to the way things affect me, and I refuse to allow people or things that cause more harm than good into the inner circle of my life.

10. Creating a life that you love.

Happy sober woman

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of getting sober is creating a life that you love. If you were happy in active addiction, you wouldnt have felt the need to get sober. Unfortunately, most people I met who struggled with addiction were not living life the way they wanted to and were not very happy. Getting sober wont immediately solve all of your problems, and life wont suddenly be a picnic. Still, it will slowly become more manageable than it was while you were going through addiction. The best part about getting sober is having the time, energy, and resources available to finally pursue all the things you had forgotten about while being stuck in addiction, and really, this is the best type of gift that person could ever give to themselves.

Reviewed by Matt Hawk, BS, CADC-II, ICADC



After overcoming her own addiction in 2012 Julie went on to become certified as an addiction counselor in order to help others achieve a life of recovery. She worked in the addiction field for 8 years and now uses both her personal and professional experiences with addiction as an influence for her writing.