Tips for Staying Motivated in Early Recovery

Top Drug and Alcohol Rehab CenterWe all feel unmotivated from time to time. There are just some days when it’s difficult to get out of bed, have a productive day at work or stay on top of your chores and responsibilities. As a newly recovering addict, you can’t beat yourself up for days when you feel unmotivated. This is a normal feeling that we all deal with.

The difference is that most people snap out of it. A good night’s rest, a mental health day off work or some good old fashioned R&R is enough to get the average person out of their funk. Recovering addicts don’t have the same freedom to play around with. A couple of days feeling down and unmotivated can trigger a relapse.

So how exactly can you stay motivated throughout your recovery, especially when many days are long and tiring with no instant rewards?

What is Motivation?

First, let’s loosely define what motivation is. It’s something that influences what you think, feel and do. Everyone has different motivators. For example, you had certain motivators that led you to use drugs and alcohol, and now you have certain motivators for wanting to stay sober. These factors are different than for another recovering addict.

Since motivators are different for everyone, you’ll need to sit down and think about your personal reasons for staying sober. Once identified, you can make them an important part of your life.

Examples of motivators include :


“I’ve finally become the spouse and parent I’ve always wanted to be. I can now be trusted.”

Physical Feelings

“It feels great to be clean, sober and healthy. I haven’t felt this energized in years!”


“I can now look in the mirror and feel good about myself and how I treat others.”


“Finally, I can vacation with my supportive friends rather than spending my weekends on the couch.”


“My spouse will be proud to see how hard I am working on my career.”

The above are just a few examples of the things that motivate people in their recoveries. It’s important to identify your own. Maybe it’s your spouse, your children, your career or a lifestyle you want to lead that is motivating you to stay sober. The difficult part is that recovery is a long road, and some days you may feel that you’re working hard with no immediate gratification.

Envision the Benefits

Say one of your biggest motivators is being able to see your children more often. Yet just because you complete 30 days of treatment and have stayed sober during your time outside of rehab doesn’t mean the courts will automatically reward you with more visitation. You may find yourself working long days, paying rent and attending AA meetings with no guarantee that you’ll get to see your children more – at least right now.

These are the days where feelings of, “What am I doing this for?” kick in. This is when you need to look back at your motivators and remember why you’re doing what you are. When you feel discouraged, think about a motivator, which in this case would be seeing your children. Close your eyes and envision what that will be like. Make the experience detailed and personal. Make the motivator come alive.

Be Specific on Reaching Goals

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in early recovery, so it’s recommended to make a list of how you plan to reach your main goals. If you want to be a better parent, write down specifics on how you will achieve this. Maybe that means calling your children once a day, attending their sporting events, mailing them birthday cards or being civil to their other parent. By doing this, you can focus on some of the smaller, easier ways to be a good parent and reap the benefits of feeling successful and accomplished.

Listen to Others’ Motivators

Another way to bring weight to your motivators is to get other people involved. Ask your family and friends what motivations they have for you. Ask those in your self-help groups to share their motivators. You will probably realize that there are some you missed. You can also ask your sponsor for the things that motivated them during early recovery. The more motivators you have, the more reasons there are to stay clean and sober.

Take Care of Your Needs

Finally, don’t forget the many simple ways that people stay motivated throughout their personal and professional lives.

  • Get 30 minutes of exercise a day, most days of the week
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep at night
  • Eat healthy foods that will keep you feeling energized such as fresh fruits, vegetables, high-protein snacks, and healthy fats
  • Stay hydrated to prevent feeling sleepy in the middle of the day
  • Surround yourself with positive people who uplift your mood and confidence
  • Have healthy outlets for dealing with stress such as yoga, meditation, swimming or jogging
  • Keep your home and workplace organized to prevent feeling overwhelmed
  • Connect yourself with a higher power; remember that you have a greater purpose on this Earth
  • Volunteer your time; this typically offers positive feelings from the start

In a nutshell, the best way to stay motivated is to make the benefits of recovery come alive and to find more healthy alternatives to staying sober. This will come with time as you start to realize all the things you have gained from recovery rather than looking at what you thought you lost.

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