Finding "balance"...a term that sends shivers down the spine of an alcoholic- active or sober. Many alcoholics have extreme personalities that often lack moderation. Therefore, when they get sober it can be a challenge to change their lifestyle to one that is conducive with recovery. Early sobriety often can mimic a game of "whack a mole" in which the alcoholism is under control and then another addictive or extreme behavior comes to the surface. When someone gets sober there is a part of them that often misses the chaos, drama and stimulation that their drinking life may have provided. Therefore, they may act out in other ways or begin to behave in excessive ways such as over-working, becoming dependent on a romantic relationship, overeating, etc. These extremes are a sign that a person has not healed and can sometimes become triggers to relapse. However, once individuals receive appropriate care (therapy, medication management, rehab, mutual-help groups, etc.) the more that they are able to see the necessity of a balanced life. The acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) is used by sober alcoholics to remind themselves of mood states that can perpetuate vulnerability to cravings and/or relapse.
Those who have longer term recovery generally learn that extremes of any nature-positive or negative are not helpful for recovery. Self-care becomes a way of life and individuals find ways to create equilibrium in their life such as exercise, meditation, healthy relationship boundaries, therapy, meetings, eating regularly and healthy, adequate sleep, etc. The following is a worksheet that can help you or a loved one to examine "balance" distribution in a variety of areas in life and what areas need more or less focus.
For each category record how much energy and effort you are expending. If a category is not relevant you can write "N/A". The total should add up to 100%.
o Friendships ___________
o Family __________
o Romanic relationship _________
o Communication _________
o Mutual-help meetings (A.A., SMART Recovery, etc.) __________
o Developing a sober network of relationships __________
o Relapse prevention __________
• Mental Health
o Therapy __________
o Medication adherence ____________
o Coping skill application ___________
o Putting effort into job, volunteer, academic commitments ___________
o Adhering to routine/schedule (time management) __________
For more information and resources about high-functioning alcoholics visit www.highfunctioningalcoholic.com