A guest blog from Constance Ray of Recovery Well, a site where people can safely share their stories of addiction.

NOTE: Addiction is relevant to teachers because substance use and abuse exist in their lives and in their students’. Stories of recovery can be as inspiring as stories of teaching successes!

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Mindfulness is a key element of addiction recovery — one day at a time, as they say. When substance abuse has been clouding your vision for so long, it can be overwhelming to look ahead to a sober life. You have to make a conscious effort to change your view of the world, and that’s often easier said than done.

Fortunately, it’s not impossible; just ask the addiction survivors we interviewed. Whether you’re in recovery yourself or are just struggling with hard times, the wisdom they shared is relevant to anyone in need of a life change. Here are a few of the things they shared with us about the importance of mindfulness in recovery.

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Josh knew on some level that his pill addiction had gotten out of control, but wasn’t ready to accept or address it. The truth was, he enjoyed the numbness he felt.

“I liked the freedom, I liked the feeling of not feeling anything,” he confessed.

To reinforce his denial, he started spending less and less time with his loved ones.

“My family experience was really negative during active addiction because I didn’t want to hear the truth, you know? And I kind of avoided that.”

But when Josh decided to enter inpatient drug rehab at Serenity Recovery, he knew he had to face his addiction demons head-on. The task become a lot less daunting when he realized he didn’t have to fix everything all at once.

“[Addiction treatment] taught me how to step back and just live in the moment and take care of one thing at a time,” he said.

Looking at it as a day-by-day, moment-by-moment journey made his sobriety goals more tangible and opened his eyes to the true beauty of life. His biggest takeaway was simple, but wise:

“Calm down and enjoy it — enjoy life for what it is.”

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Kenny found a similar comfort in mindfulness, noting that it takes a conscious effort to shift your way of thinking.

“Right now, I’m taking things day by day and just trying to get my life back in order,” he explained. “I often feel that when detoxing off any substance, you’re going through an emotional roller coaster. The main thing to do is to find certain things that take your mind off of the outside world, and off the facility and off of stress and tension — for me, that’s working out.”

Like Josh, Kenny said that finding happiness is an important part of recovery. It’s isn’t just about accepting the present moment, but truly embracing it.

“I feel like sobriety without happiness is kind of useless. I am working on finding my own personal happiness and lighting that flame inside of me, and I feel like once I find that happiness and it’s secure, then sobriety will be the least of what I’m worried about,” he said.

We’ve all made mistakes and have regrets — both big and small — but to dwell on the past is to miss out on joy in the present, Kenny said. You can’t risk losing even more time than you already have.

“I just feel like what a lot of people have a problem with when it comes to recovery is not being able to accept the faults and the flaws they have experienced in their lifetime. But I feel like if you have a second opportunity, you should take it and uplift it to the fullest because you don’t know when the opportunity might run short,” he said.

We all have a strength within us to overcome, though you must know how to channel it. Mindfulness can guide the way not only to lasting sobriety, but to a happier life overall.