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11 Small Changes that Make a Big Impact on Recovery

It goes without saying that kicking drugs and entering into recovery will completely change your life. And while most people associate getting sober with a monumental overhaul, there’s much more to this process than simply walking away from a substance that’s ruled your every waking moment.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

While there’s no step-by-step recovery manual to follow, thousands of success stories and shared experiences have given birth to a number of helpful recovery tips. We might be living in an age of technological and medicinal advances, but it’s still the little things you do on a daily basis that help you stay clean and sober.

Here are 11 small but powerful actions you can take to make a big difference in your recovery:

Change #1 Make a Schedule

If it’s important for you to get to meetings, carve out that time into your calendar or designate certain nights to go. Setting aside a couple of mornings per month to volunteer and be of service to others can also be a great way to get out of yourself and aid in your recovery.

Change #2 Consume Real Food

You wouldn’t put regular gas in a car that requires diesel, so why do that with your body? Avoid processed foods and make sure to eat some fruits and vegetables every day. Make it a priority to feed yourself – body and mind – with all the nutrients you need to keep things running at optimal levels.

Change #3 Never, Ever Skip Breakfast

Eating first thing in the morning kicks your metabolism into overdrive and jump starts your day. An empty stomach not only results in low energy, it can affect your mood and how you feel about life. Try a bowl of oatmeal with fruit or some scrambled eggs and toast. Rediscover your love for breakfast foods and your body will reward you for it!

Motivation Reminder: Running out of motivation is a common cause of relapse. For those of us in recovery, it is not enough to give up drugs or alcohol; we have to work at building a successful life in recovery. If we’re unmotivated, we’re unhappy. If we’re not happy, we will use again.

Change #4 Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Whether or not you stay sober is a decision that ultimately comes down to you. Think about all the trials and tribulations you’ve been through to get this far; remind yourself why you’re giving up drugs and alcohol on a daily basis. Take stock of all the happiness that this chemical dependency has robbed from you and vow to stay sober.

Change #5 Take Up a Form of Exercise 

Exercise does a lot more for you than just bulk up your muscles. Working up a sweat and getting your heart pumping tells your brain to release dopamine, a feel-good mood-enhancing neuro-chemical. Group exercise classes are also a great idea, as they provide you with an opportunity to meet new friends in a sober environment.

Change #6 Take Pride in Your Appearance

You’re probably not too eager to shave your head or dye your hair purple in an effort to signify change, but you don’t have to go that far to signal a new beginning. How about just treating yourself to some new jeans or a new dress? Small changes like these can be equally beneficial to your self-esteem. Plus, a new wardrobe or sharp haircut can help give you the confidence you need to take better care of yourself.

Change #7 Detox Tea

You don’t have to look very far to find an advertisement for some “miracle detox” product that promises “instant” results. Instead of wasting your time and money on empty promises, reach for simple and all-natural detox teas. They come in various flavors, but green and black teas are two of the most popular. These natural beverages can help clear out the unwanted toxins in your your liver and kidneys, leaving you feeling refreshed and more energized.

Change #8 More Sleep

It’s common knowledge that most of us don’t get enough rest, but getting into a sleep schedule post-rehab can be difficult. The sooner you can train your mind and body to wind down and get ready for bed, the better you’ll feel. Plus, getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night will greatly improve your overall mood and outlook on life. A good attitude and positive thinking are essential for your recovery.

Clear Thinking: During those early days of sobriety, many of us complain of “fuzzy” thinking. It’s as if we can’t hold a clear thought or concentrate for extended periods of time. Once our ability to get a full night’s sleep returns, however, that mental haze will clear.

Change #9 Find Something You Love

One of the most prevalent and dangerous triggers for relapse can be boredom. You used to spend all your time tracking down and consuming drugs; now you’re sober and have a ton of free time on your hands. Find an activity that you enjoy doing (or have always wanted to try) and devote yourself to it. Having something you’re passionate about and look forward to doing will keep you motivated and on track.

Change #10 Drink Infused Water

Hydration is important to everyone in recovery. Remember; you’re still ridding your body of the toxins left behind by months and years of drug or alcohol abuse. Instead of drinking sodas all day, reach for a bottle of water. Nothing flushes the system quite like good old H20. If the taste of water is too “blah” for your liking, try adding lemon, mint or cucumber to create an ideal cleansing drink.

Change #11 Refuse to Give Up

Staying sober isn’t always a walk in the park; there will likely be moments where you’re tempted to use again or you begin to feel depressed. This is natural and expected! You just have to commit to riding it out and sticking to your sober guns. Remember how hard you’ve worked to get here. It might even help to remember the people who said you’d never get clean…then kick it into high gear by proving them wrong. Do whatever you have to do to keep moving forward in your recovery.

Additional Reading: A Guide for Helping a Loved One in Early Recovery

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