13 Tips for Staying Sober
Sobriety is a tough and long journey for most. If you have struggled with addiction, you know how difficult this can be. Getting sober is an entire journey in itself, staying sober is completely different and, in some cases, even more difficult.
Below we will go over some specific tips for you to take into your routine that will make staying sober much easier. Staying sober is still a daily struggle, and is never easy, but below these tips can help you get into the right mindset and could make staying sober much more natural.
What Is Sobriety?
Sobriety simply means that one is not under the influence of any drugs. That meaning slightly changes for someone who has had an addiction in the past. If one says that they have been “sober for 6 months” that simply means that the last time that they used their drug/alcohol of choice was 6 months ago, an impressive feat.
When someone “decides to get sober” they usually say this while sober – and by saying this they are indicating that they do not want to drink any more from that point forward. The decision to get sober is still a difficult one, though the process of getting and staying sober is much more significant.
Sobriety usually comes in ups and downs. Relapse can happen and set someone back, making them feel as though they have failed. In reality, the true failure would simply not be getting back up and trying to be sober again.
Certain programs have seen more success than others, but most sobriety programs boil down to a few of the tips that will be outlined here. The rate of success is higher in those that create a strong support system and can use their support system to help them stay sober.
Support groups of people that are all struggling with addiction have also shown much success. Being around people that you know are struggling with the same thing that you are is encouraging, and can help people that don’t believe that they can set an example for themselves and even be an example in some cases.
Sobriety and Your Personal Journey
While having a support system is critical for your sobriety journey, everyone’s path to sobriety has its own differences. You can relate to those that have had a similar experience, but yours will still have its own flavor. The number one tip for those that are trying to get sober is “don’t drink, go to the meetings.” Simple advice, but effective.
There are many other things that you can do to help make sure that you maintain your sobriety, knowing what you could do is the first step, and taking action is the second step. Use the guide below to create a system that works for you.
1. Take Note of Your Personal Triggers
Humans are interesting creatures. We respond to outside stimuli without even realizing it most of the time. You might do things that you don’t even realize due to things that are completely out of your control.
This is so much more important to recognize when you are fighting addiction. You must be strong, but you also need to put yourself into winning situations. This means that you recognize when something will tempt you into drinking or using again.
Everyone’s triggers are different, and finding them might not be as simple. A good technique for one to do when finding out their triggers is to journal their entire day and take note of specific emotional shifts throughout their day.
Some triggers might include stress, job loss/instability, family issues, bad state of the world/pessimism, seeing someone else drink/use, relationship instability. While this list certainly doesn’t exhaust all possible triggers, it does outline a couple of common ones that can be linked to others. In using that short list you are likely to find something related that triggers you.
Remembering that all of these triggers are personal is key. Because you feel a certain way does not mean that everyone else will, and because you feel alone in your trigger doesn’t mean that you’re alone in your affliction.
2. Recognize Signs of Relapse
Relapse is a real and difficult reality for most. Statistically, many people will suffer at least one relapse while getting sober.
That said, that doesn’t mean that you should just give up. Set yourself up for success, and prepare for the worst. Relapse can be a serious hurdle, but it can be vaulted if one continues to strive for sobriety. The only loss that relapse can permanently provide is soul-crushing devastation and defeat. If you stand back up again and fight your addiction, you will prevail.
Relapses aren’t loud, they are often silent, and will sneak up on you quietly. Look out for relapses and what you can do to prevent them. Some common signs of relapse are: Thinking in the same patterns as you used to when you were addicted, beginning specific tasks that are self-serving and selfish, looking for your old friends that used/drank with you, intentionally thinking less rationally, and inflicting acute pain to yourself so that you give yourself an excuse to use/drink.
Relapse isn’t the same for everyone, it will often be sneaky, and stop you in your tracks when you aren’t ready for it.
3. Know What Kind of Withdrawal Symptoms You Might Face
Withdrawal is a hard reality that many that are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction must face. In order to get better, in order to live a more whole life, one must first go through the painful process of withdrawal.
Not everyone has the same withdrawal symptoms, and not every drug has the same withdrawal symptoms. One will likely be hit with a multitude of different withdrawal symptoms all at once, and while these symptoms are uncomfortable, to say the least, you can overcome them as many have before you and many people will after you.
Depending on your addiction, you should reach out to a rehab facility to try and get as much information as possible. Knowing might be hard, but not knowing could be dangerous. Knowing what kind of symptoms you will face is critical in getting and staying sober. “Know thy enemy and know thyself” as the quote goes.
In knowing what you might be facing, you can appropriately prepare for it and through that give yourself a higher chance of really staying sober and beating your addiction.
4. Change Old Habits
This one might be harder for most people, but it’s a necessary step that many must take so that they can truly leave their old life of addiction behind. It’s not easy to be around those that you used to drink or use drugs with. You must take the necessary steps to separate yourself from those that remind you of the old days and your addicted self.
This might mean significant changes like changing who you regularly hang out with, who you usually go to see, how your day is normally structured, to simple things like making sure that your daily commute doesn’t cross the liquor store that you used to think about on the way home from work.
Triggers come in many different shapes and sizes, songs that you used to listen to could be triggering, signposts, things that are completely out of your control will be triggering. It’s important to recognize this and still do your best to minimize the time that you spend in front of those triggers.
Abandoning old friends might be hard, but if they were only your friend when you were using and nothing more, they were never your friend. Friends care about each other’s well-being and health, those that care about you will be excited that you are clean and do what they can to keep you clean, even if that means keeping distance.
5. Build New Healthy Relationships
This tip comes off the coattails of the previous tip. If you are leaving some of your old comrades behind, you must take the time to build new relationships. These people might be friends from work, someone that you trust in your family, a friend that you met at church that you trust, any of the above.
Building new friendships help get you to a place where you can increase your trait openness. It gives you a chance to meet new people where they’re at and gives you perspective on where you are and who you could be. These are critical qualities for those that are trying to figure out a new life without their addiction.
These relationships should be with people that are new and don’t remind you of your old life, but they should be with people that you trust to keep you from backsliding or relapsing. It’s a difficult balance, but again, discernment and picking the right place to meet people will extremely raise your chance of finding someone that is worth creating a relationship with.
6. Lean on Your Friends
Creating a structure and being able to lean on it are two different things. When the flood comes, have you built an “ark” (friend structure) that is strong enough to weather the storm? If you have, you’ll know right away. You’ll be able to turn to these people and they will show you what support looks like.
Just because the storm has started doesn’t mean it’s too late to make friends that you can rely on. You can and will have to rely on some structure, even if it’s not as solid as you would like. If you’re currently weathering the storm, you can still reach out for help and you will find those that will stand by your side. Do not be afraid to reach out, do it with confidence and boldness and you will find that there are people that want to assist you.
7. Maintain a New Structure
The old structure must go. Your old habits, friends, and many other things must go. This is a hard reality, but what one must realize is that any idea fills the vacuum that’s created when one expels the old structure.
One must make a clear effort to create a new structure as soon as possible that is solid, tested, and works well for not just yourself but for other people. This means that you will have something to fall back on and you can trust even if you haven’t personally tried it before.
Creating a routine that involves working out, going to regular meals with friends, or attending regular church services all count as something that you can do to help create a new structure that works.
Living a chaotic lifestyle will also be unhealthy for your health. If you leave your room in disarray, your calendar is a mess, and your friends never know where you could be, you will not be in harmony with those that could really make a difference in your life.
A solid structure in your life will also help you achieve other goals that you had intended to hit. You never know what you could accomplish, and a solid structure is the first step in understanding exactly what you could do.
8. Practice a Balanced Lifestyle
Balance is key in recovery. One should never sacrifice one addiction for another, but in fact, they should try to find a true balance in their lives that is more representative of a healthy and complete lifestyle.
9. Develop a Savings Account
Savings is important for everyone, it’s helpful for those that have not had one before, and the ability to save money in the face of addiction will help give you the feeling that you need in order to continue to keep being sober.
This will help you physically see a growth that you haven’t been able to see before, and you can tie a physical number to your progress. It’s directly helpful to your mental state at the moment and sets your future self up for success.
10. Take Time for Yourself
Don’t forget that you need to be taken care of. Everything that you do needs to be in the context that you can be spending time working on yourself, but in a healthy way so that you aren’t drowning in work.
Taking time for yourself will give you the relaxation to know that you’re doing something that is worth working for. If you never give yourself to enjoy what you’re becoming, you won’t keep striving for it.
11. Work Through What You’ve Done Wrong
History is a tough subject. Oftentimes, many people will have done something that has brought them into the situation that they now exist in. If you have wrongs to right, although they may be difficult to work through, they are worth working through without a doubt. You will find yourself more fulfilled, happier, and ready to keep tackling your sobriety.
12. Practice Healthy Living
Using drugs or alcohol regularly can take a massive toll on your health. Taking extra time to really get your health in order will have you feeling better about all aspects of life, and get you ready to tackle your life as a sober person.
This means eating right, exercising, and meditating when needed. There are so many other things that come with healthy living, but being conscious of it is the first and most important step.
13. Celebrate Your Victories
When you reach a milestone or something significant, it’s important to recognize that milestone and make a big deal out of it. It’s not narcissistic, it’s not a bad thing that you are appreciating your victories, in fact, it’s critical to your recovery. Mark your sober anniversary and celebrate it as often as you can.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, reach out to us at ecosoberhouse.com, we have the resources you need to get started on your journey to sobriety.