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This week, Recovery Round-Up welcomes its very first guest blogpost! In it, Red Rose Recovery member Stephen shares his 12 tips for cultivating a meaningful, purposeful life after addiction, outlining the practical solutions and mindset-shifting techniques that have worked for him.  

As with so many of our members, Stephen’s story is a powerful testament to the transformative power of hope, community, and resilience as we build new lives in recovery. His evident talent for writing is also a shining example of the amazing potential we have in our community. Too often, people with a history of addiction are defined by their perceived deficits – rather than the strengths and assets that are innate in all of us and, like rosebuds, will bloom and flourish if we have the time and patience to tend them. 

We hope you enjoy the article! 

My 12 Steps for Survival 

By Stephen  

Just over two years ago I moved to a new area after a spell in prison. I was starting from scratch with no money, no friends, no family and no job. I had a history of addiction and I wasn’t as young as I used to be. Quite a daunting prospect! However, two years later I am still standing. I would like to share my twelve top tips for what has worked for me. 

1. Recovery comes first – Without sobriety my life is a mess. Therefore, I do whatever it takes to maintain freedom from drugs and alcohol. Recovery is the keystone that underpins everything else. 

2. Attitude is a choice – It is so easy to believe the world is against you. It isn’t. It took me a lifetime to work that out. When I am nice to people they are usually nice to me in return. And if they’re not that’s their problem. 

3. Develop a network of support – The biggest enemy to those in recovery is isolation. Foster positive links with professionals and others in recovery. And don’t be afraid to talk to others when you are struggling. It is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

4. Accept help – There is help out there if you ask for it. It is tempting to go it alone out of a mistaken sense of pride. If you need help from food banks, agencies or charities then take it.  As long as you are doing it for the right reasons people will help you. It is not clever to think you can go alone. 

5. Set a budget and keep to it – Living on state benefits is no bed of roses and every penny counts. When your back is against the wall financially it is essential that you keep a tight rein. Don’t leave your finances to chance. 

6. Shop smart – Look for bargains and shop around. Do your research and develop friendly contacts with shop staff. I live opposite a local Co-op and know what time they reduce their fresh food items for a quick sale. 

7. Feed yourself properly – Eating regularly and well is essential to both physical and mental health. Get into a habit of planning what you eat and when. I try to do this on a weekly basis. It is so easy to miss out on meals especially if you live on your own. A way of economising is to make meals in batches and freeze what you don’t use for later. 

8. Second hand isn’t always second best – I love charity shops and use a great local auction house where I’ve picked up fantastic items to furnish my home. I have also developed a side-line where I sell small items on Ebay for a profit. It’s fun, keeps me occupied and I’m doing my bit for the planet. 

9. Treat yourself – Enjoyment and fun are essential. What is the point of recovery otherwise? It is important to reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything major. A little of what you fancy does you good as long as it’s not illegal or harmful. I enjoy trips on the bus to local beauty spots or the occasional CD or book. Chocolate also hits the spot! 

10. Help others – Nothing lifts the spirits more than being useful to others. When you are helping someone else you are not mired in the self and your own pity pot. You do not have to be a saint. A simple kind word to another, a smile or a listening ear could transform somebody else’s day. There is always somebody worse off than you. 

11. The best things in life are free – It may sound corny, but it’s actually true. I am fortunate enough to live close to spectacular countryside and nothing improves my mood more than a long walk or a gentle bike ride. I love reading and being creative and so am a regular visitor to my local library. Museums and art galleries are also brilliant. Develop a passion for something. It could save your life! 

12. Be grateful – This is sometimes very hard to put into practice and I struggle with this concept every day. However, the truth of the matter is we all have much to be grateful for. That could be family, friends, good health or any number of the things we routinely take for granted until we lose them. I find it helpful to make a mental list of all the things I have to be grateful for just before I go to sleep. If it’s only the fact that I have not wanted or needed a drink or a drug that day then that in itself is a miracle – and plenty of reason for me to be grateful!