Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, knows the importance of not overdoing it when it comes to his popular product. He puts it succinctly:
Ben & Jerry’s is an indulgent dessert that should be eaten in moderation. You should not be replacing more than one meal a day with ice cream. We do not consider a pint or a tub of ice cream to be a single serving.
At the heart of that quote is the notion of moderation—the idea that too much of a good thing can turn out to be a bad thing. Keeping that idea in mind is of particular importance if you are a person in recovery from a substance use disorder. We are going to look at three areas in which moderation serves you—and your sobriety well. And we’re going to start with something directly connected with Mr. Greenfield’s delicious product.
But first, an important reminder.
When It Comes to Drugs and Alcohol, Abstinence Is Best
We absolutely do not want you to get the idea that we are making the case that you can drink or use drugs as long as you do it in moderation. For those with a substance use disorder—a brain disease that can be treated but not cured—attempts at moderate drug or alcohol use are extremely likely to fail. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can make moderation work when it comes to your substance use disorder. That is perhaps the fastest road to relapse.
Don’t Let a Sweet Tooth Eat Away at Your Sobriety
Most everyone enjoys a sweet treat from time to time. And by and large, that is just fine. There are, of course, some potential problems with consuming too much sugar, ranging from weight gain to tooth decay and more.
But for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, there is another danger when it comes to sugar.
The brain of a person in recovery is primed to experience a rush of stimulation like it used to experience under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Sugar can mimic that stimulation, and a person in recovery can quickly find themselves craving sugar just as they used to (or perhaps still do) crave drugs. The so-called sugar rush can start a dangerous cycle and become a substitute addiction.
We suggest being thoughtful when it comes to consuming sugar. It is fine to eat the ice cream, but keep Mr. Greenfield’s advice in the forefront of your mind: We do not consider a pint or a tub of ice cream to be a single serving.
Don’t Let the News Cause You to Lose Your Sobriety
It is important to be well-informed about current events. There is much to be said for being a smart consumer of news whether you get your updates from a newspaper, televised news, on the radio, or online.
But these days, it seems like the news is constantly gushing out at us as if from a firehose. There is always an update, always a new story, always a new detail of an old story that may (or may not) connect it to a new story. It is impossible to keep up—and you shouldn’t try to.
Too much news consumption can amp up feelings of anxiety and depression. And given the interconnectedness of good mental health and ongoing sobriety, that can be a real problem.
Our advice? Set a schedule for consuming news—a favorite newscast, site, or paper that you can interact with at a set time each day (or even every couple of days). Limit the amount of time you spend engaged with the news—and avoid the temptations of “doomscrolling.”
Don’t Let the Rosy Images of Social Media Upend Your Sobriety
Social media can be a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and family. And it can be a great joy to share good news in your own life and to share in the happy times others post about on the various social media sites.
But it can also be easy to start comparing yourself to the rosy images you see you on Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere. When that happens, it can be easy to forget that people tend to only post things on social media that make them look successful and happy. When you are not feeling particularly successful or happy, these upbeat posts can really bring you down—causing the same sorts of mental health issues that too much news consumption can engender.
We would suggest limiting your use of social media to an hour or less a day—preferably at a scheduled time so that you don’t find yourself mindlessly looking at posts and letting time slip away. Moderation can help you enjoy the good aspects of social media while minimizing the more problematic aspects.
We Won’t Be Moderate When It Comes to Helping You
At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we are fully committed to helping you regain your sobriety and to giving you the resources, strategies, and support you need to maintain your sobriety. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, we are here to help.