Getting and staying sober involves having a plan and some concerted effort. Your plan should involve:
If you have been drinking or taking drugs for a long time, you will be unlikely to be able to stay sober without some help. This might be from friends or family members, or it might be from new sober buddies. You will likely realize the importance of having healthy relationships on your recovery journey, and will naturally begin avoiding old drinking buddies.
Getting support for your substance abuse problems gets you these things:
Addiction treatment for alcohol abuse is a one stop shop designed to help you get sober and remain sober. When you go to rehab, you will go through a medical detox, look at the reasons why you were drinking, be trained in how to maintain healthy relationships, and figure out how to change your life if you were living a chaotic or disorganized lifestyle.
In short, treatment facilities will teach you how to live a sober lifestyle and assist you in looking at past mistakes.
You can't get drunk if you don't start drinking. While staying sober is not quite as simple as just avoiding drinking alcohol, this does play a key part. If you have an alcohol problem, remember that it is not possible for you to drink any amount of alcohol without risking relapse.
The adage in many recovery groups is that "if you stay in a barber shop long enough you will probably get a haircut". This saying points to the belief that the chances of you getting drunk are pretty high if you hang around in places where people get drunk. The same could be said for hanging around with people who often get drunk.
While it might be comfortable to continue old habits and stay around people you used to drink with, this is not conducive to sober living. When you stop drinking, it is time to make new friends. These new friends should ideally also have a healthy lifestyle, so you can engage in wholesome pursuits together. A sober friend can be invaluable when you are thinking about drinking.
Short term sobriety and long term sobriety are two very different beasts. While in long term sobriety your cravings will be reduced, your state of mind will be a little more serene and you will have the support of other people to help you stay sober, it is not always a cake walk. Here are some tips that can help you to maintain lasting sobriety:
Support groups are foundational for maintaining sobriety from drugs or alcohol, both short term and long term sobriety. Going to support groups means you have a ready-built network of sober friends who have been through similar experiences to you, and are able to offer you advice and emotional support.
Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous also encourage you to get a sponsor and work through the steps as a way of maintaining your sober life. Sponsors help support you, and doing the steps help you to clear the wreckage of the past and give you knowledge of self, something that is incredibly important in staying sober.
Maintaining employment that nourishes your spirit will go a long way in your sober life. Many people find that a job that involves helping people helps them stay sober. You don't have to work completely in the service of others - you can make a meaningful impact on the world.
If you have developed financial problems you will probably already know: being broke is not fun. In some ways it is more difficult when you are sober than when you were drinking. In the drinking days, your main concern is getting more alcohol, and there is usually a way of doing that. When you are sober, things are different. While you might choose to live a frugal life, having money is crucial to maintain your life.
Some people use spending money as a way of not experiencing difficult thoughts and feelings. The end result is that they are frequently in dire financial situations. In sobriety, it is better to face things head on. If you have a problem with spending money, look at why it might be and seek to address the root causes. If you continue to have difficulties, consider going to a support group like Debtors Anonymous, who can help you with your financial difficulties.
Without looking after your mental health, you are at risk of relapse. Tips for maintaining mental health include:
Meditate regularly. There's a reason why most religion and spiritual traditions and even many support groups include meditation as one of their elements: it works! Meditating frequently helps lower anxiety, reduces depression, and keeps neurotic thinking at bay.
Stay connected. As mentioned elsewhere in this article, maintaining relationships is integral to sobriety. If you have a tendency to isolate, make sure that you set aside time each day to connect.
Don't take too much on. Working too hard or overexerting yourself in other ways can be detrimental to your mental health. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You may actually find that if you take it a bit easier that you will be work effective at what you are doing. It's worth remembering that burnout can be a genuine relapse trigger.
Getting regular exercise plays an important part of staying sober. Looking after your body means you look healthy, and more importantly, you feel healthy. These healthy habits will be instrumental in your new sober life. You can:
In some ways, staying away from drugs is easier than staying away from alcohol. Alcohol is available on most streets in most places in the world and is legal. Drugs, on the other hand, usually involve having a drug dealer's number, calling them up and then going to buy them illicitly.
This is not always the case though. You may bump into an old acquaintance who offers you drugs, or you might find a baggie of something in an old coat pocket. You should be well-prepared for these situations. If you think you might see someone you used to use with, have a line rehearsed about why you do not want to use anymore. If you think you might find drugs in your belongings, visualize throwing the drugs away.
If you are in an area where there are many people around that you used to use with, you should consider moving. While this can be difficult, particularly if you have been in an area for a long time, sometimes the risks of relapsing simply are not worth it. Leaving harmful past relationships and forming healthy, supportive relationships always pays dividends.
You don't necessarily need AA to stay sober, but it is recommended that you attend an alternative support group for a while. Groups like SMART Recovery help people to stay sober in a similar way to AA.
While AA revolves around finding a higher power as part of the recovery process, the SMART Recovery process advocates science-based methods. SMART Recovery teaches health coping skills to help you overcome your alcohol addiction.
It is possible to stay sober. If you want proof, just ask someone who has gotten sober. People who have been through the worst kinds of alcohol and drug addiction have gotten clean and sober, and got on to live happy and successful lives.
Initially, getting sober may not make you happier. Early recovery is difficult, and these difficulties may stifle your happiness. As you remain sober for longer, though, living the sober life gets better and better.
Absolutely. Once you have got over the initial hurdles, life is far better without alcohol. Of course, staying sober is not always a bed of roses. You will encounter difficulties in life, no matter how long you have been sober for. Recovery is a lifelong process that will have challenging moments. It is all worth it though.
To some people, getting sober just means stopping drinking. Other people talk about the idea of "emotional sobriety". This kind of sobriety involves looking at yourself, how you interact with others, and what your thoughts and beliefs are. Some people believe that true sobriety only comes by working on yourself.
Being sober is difficult at first, but it is worth it. If you would like to find out more information on how you can stay sober, contact Empowered Recovery. We offer partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programming to help find the best version of you again.