Recovery Advice Brought to You By the Letter “L”
If you or someone you love is a Sesame Street fan, you might remember Bert and Ernie’s duet called “La La La.” It is not as famous, perhaps, as “Rubber Duckie” or “I Love Trash” or “C is for Cookie,” but it is a solid exploration of words starting with the letter “L.”
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Bert and Ernie have very different ideas of what makes for a lovely word starting with “L.” Bert really leans into the word “linoleum,” but Ernie is not so sure (he prefers words like “lollypop”).
There are a couple of “L” words that relate to your recovery journey. They do not appear on either Bert or Ernie’s list (and Ernie would no doubt suggest they are not right for the song), but they are important to keep in mind when you are working to protect your hard-won sobriety.
Let’s take a look at loneliness and languishing—and the ways either can cause problems for a person in recovery.
Loneliness can Undermine Sobriety
Most everyone feels lonely from time to time. But a person in recovery from a substance use disorder who feels lonely most or all of the time is likely in danger of experiencing a relapse. The sadness and stress that come with loneliness can lead to drinking or drug use as a way to try to make those negative feelings subside.
That danger is why it is so important to build a healthy social life in recovery. You want to surround yourself with family and friends who support your sobriety (and you want to separate yourself from people who might encourage you to return to old habits). The people you love to hang out with are also the people who are providing essential support for your sobriety.
In addition to building and maintaining strong relationships with friends and family members, you can also ward off loneliness by attending your 12-Step (or other recovery program) meetings, getting involved in your faith community, or volunteering for a cause or organization that is important to you. Signing up for a class or an adult sports league can also get you connected with more people and hold loneliness at bay.
Again, the goal here is to have a healthy (and, of course, drug- and alcohol-free) social life so that loneliness can’t get a foothold and disrupt your sobriety.
Languishing is Lousy for Sobriety
The easiest way to understand languishing is to think about its opposite: flourishing. When you are flourishing, things are going your way—and not just because you are lucky, but because you are working toward your goals and taking advantage of opportunities for relaxation and joy.
When you are languishing, none of those things are true. Instead, you might feel stuck and uninspired and like nothing is going your way. You can find yourself in a rut—and find yourself feeling pretty bad about it.
Just like loneliness, languishing is a threat to your sobriety. When you are languishing, you might find yourself tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to jumpstart things and feel more positive emotions. That, of course, is a trap you want to avoid falling into.
If you do not feel like you are flourishing, it is probably time to make some changes. Lean into your good habits that support your physical and mental well-being. That includes eating healthily, exercising regularly, and sleeping restfully. Find a hobby or other activity that you find consistently interesting and engaging, and give yourself permission to set time aside to enjoy it. And consider talking to a therapist who can help you address any mental health disorders that might be in play.
“L” is for Leaving Substance Use Behind
When you are ready to leave drugs or alcohol behind, we are ready to help. Bel Aire Recovery Center offers medically supervised detoxification that allows you to weather the rigors of withdrawal in a safe, temptation-free environment. We follow detox with a robust rehabilitation program that includes both group and individual therapy—and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders. And when your time in residential treatment comes to an end, we provide a continuum of care so that you have ongoing access to resources and support as your recovery journey gets underway.
Located near Wichita, Kansas, Bel Aire Recovery Center provides personalized substance use disorder treatment grounded in evidence and empathy. You can count on our experience and expertise to help you reclaim—and maintain—your sobriety.