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The baseball season is underway—and America’s Pastime might be the sport that best serves as a metaphor for the sobriety journey (though that has not stopped us from using another sport for this purpose). That is because the baseball season is long. Each team plays 162 games—not including Spring Training games or postseason action. Whether your team is on a hot streak, an extended period of losing, or somewhere in between, the games just keep coming as the season winds from spring through the summer months and into the fall.

Recovery is a lot like that. Whether things are going well or poorly or somewhere in between, the days just keep coming, and the work of staying sober continues. Even when you have been sober for a long time, there can be days when it feels like everything you have worked for could just fall apart.

Here’s the (Sobriety) Pitch. Don’t Strike Out.

In keeping with our baseball metaphor, we offer three ideas for keeping your sobriety intact when it seems you might be in danger of striking out. 

Tip One: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

It is hard to think of more fundamental baseball advice than “keep your eye on the ball.” When a batter steps up to the plate, they know they have to do their best to see the ball as it comes out of the pitcher’s hand. Pitchers do all sorts of things to make that difficult, so the batter has to really lock in. The batter has so little time to decide whether (and where and when) to swing, that keeping their eye on the ball as it hurtles toward them is absolutely essential. 

The same is true when it comes to staying sober. Cravings, difficult emotions, high levels of stress, and so much more can seem to be hurtling your way like a 100 mph fastball. Keeping your eye on what matters—your sobriety—can help you make good decisions (head to meeting, call a friend, get some sleep, and more) that firm up the foundations of your recovery.

Tip Two: Don’t Try to Do too Much

Sometimes you will hear a baseball play-by-play announcer say something like, “He didn’t try to do too much with that pitch.” That means the batter put the ball in play and got a hit and was not necessarily trying to hit a towering home run. Home runs are great, of course, but sometimes a simple base hit is the best possible outcome given the pitch coming the batter’s way.

For a person in recovery, consciously not doing too much might simply mean sticking to the steady routines that support your sobriety in good times and bad. We mentioned several such things above, but there are plenty more—eating healthily, enjoying an engaging hobby, writing or drawing in a journal, practicing mindfulness. None of those things are home run swings, but they are likely to result in a solid hit that protects your sobriety.

Tip Three: Don’t Chase Pitches Out of the Strike Zone

Those crafty pitchers are always trying to get batters to chase pitches that are thrown out of the strike zone. The pitch might look good but then swerve outside or inside. A curveball might look hittable right up to the moment it seems to dive out of sight. Getting batters to swing at pitches they can’t hit is a primary goal of pitchers, and when they do so, it can make a batter look pretty silly.

A person in recovery can find themselves swinging at pitches out of the strike zone when they, for example, listen to advice from dubious sources, convince themselves that they can handle a drink or two, or decide to spend time with people who enabled their drug habit in the past. Those things might look good in the moment, but in the end, they will result in a swing and a miss—and possibly a strike out in the form of a relapse. A batter who “knows the strike zone” or who has “great plate discipline” is less likely to chase a pitch, and a person in recovery who sticks with what works and leaves bad influences behind has the recovery equivalent of plate discipline.

Getting the Treatment You Need is Always a Home Run

At French Creek Recovery Center—located in Meadville, Pennsylvania— we offer evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders as well as co-occurring mental health disorders that may be tangled up with drug or alcohol use. To put it in baseball terms, a substance use disorder is the equivalent of a perpetual rainout. Sobriety, on the other hand, is like a perfect summer evening at the ballpark. We can help you get back in the game via medically supervised detoxification, a rehabilitation program grounded in individual and group therapy, and a continuum of care designed to help you start your recovery journey with confidence. Take it from us: Sobriety is always a home run.