Tips for Staying Sober
Every day in recovery, you have a ton of things going on and one primary goal: to stay clean and sober no matter what. It is normal to feel concern about your ability to do this in the beginning, but with focus and persistence, you can slowly increase your sense of stability in recovery and become more confident in your ability to avoid relapse.
- Find your people. It’s important to connect with people who are not only sober but also positive and happy people who are supportive of you getting everything you need to stay sober. This does not mean that everyone you spend any time with must be completely sober 100 percent of the time, though they do need to refrain from drinking, using anything, or being under the influence around you. They do need to be 100 percent on board with your commitment to your sobriety and ready to step up and support you on your journey.
- Fix the things that bother you most first. As you begin to work through underlying issues, trauma, and co-occurring mental health disorders, you will find that certain things stand out above the rest in terms of their ability to bother you. If you are thinking about it a lot and it’s bothering you, you should talk to your therapist and figure out how to address it proactively before it becomes a trigger for relapse.
- Focus. It can help you to feel more grounded when you have goals in place that you are actively working toward. Even little goals can help you feel more focused and like you are always moving forward. For example, you might try to go to a 12-Step meeting every single day, commit to going for a run 30 minutes a day, or going back to school – whatever you choose, it should positive and promote a healthy life in recovery.
- Notice negative self-talk and replace it with positive affirmations. In active addiction, you may have commonly undermined yourself, and in recovery, it can be easy to fall into the trap of judging yourself for your past in addiction. This is not helpful and will only serve to trigger cravings for drugs and alcohol. Instead, recognize when you are badmouthing yourself and replace it instead with a positive affirmation: “I am doing great in recovery. I am strong and honest and kind. I am everything I need to be right now. Everything unfolds as it should.”
- Create a regular schedule for yourself. Use an app on your phone or write it out on paper, but create for yourself a schedule for each and every day, starting from the time you get up until you go to bed. This doesn’t mean that you have to be doing something amazing every minute. Write in all the meetings, doctors’ appointments, and therapy sessions and treatment that you have scheduled for the week first, and then schedule workouts, time with sober friends, volunteer commitments, etc., to help you stay focused on where you need to be and where you are going.
- Stick to it. Once you make that schedule, stick to it and get everywhere you need to go even when you don’t want to. In fact, the day you most want to skip out on your therapy session or 12-Step meeting is likely the day that you need it most.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away from people and situations that don’t feel right. If your instincts are telling you that something is off or if for some reason, you just don’t feel comfortable, do not wait to analyze and dissect that feeling – just cut it short. You do not have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings or “being weird.” If, for some reason, you just don’t feel emotionally safe or comfortable around certain people or in certain situations, there is no reason to stay or repeat the experience.
- Don’t let yourself skip meetings. As your schedule starts to fill up – you get a job, start taking classes, make friends – it can be tempting to skip a meeting and hang out at home, go to work, or do just about anything else. Meetings can get boring, and it can feel like you are just sitting there listening to other people whine, but showing up is important. You never know what you will hear at a meeting that will resonate with you; you never know whom you will meet and the impact you could have on their lives and vice versa; and while you are in that meeting, you will stay sober.
- Put a hold on the whole romance thing. As tempting as it may be to date people in recovery, your best bet is to postpone making any moves on that front until you are more stable in recovery. Even those who have a lot of clean time can find that their foundation is threatened by a bad breakup or a self-esteem hit while in the dating pool. Save your energy and effort, and focus it instead on yourself, becoming a more grounded and well-rounded person and developing friendships that will sustain you in recovery.
- Put your recovery before everything else – really, everything. There is nothing that is more important than staying sober. If something causes you extreme stress, anxiety, agitation, anger, frustration, etc., it is a trigger for relapse, and as difficult as it may be, the best bet is to give yourself some distance until you are better equipped to handle it. It is okay to put your sense of ease, your emotional equilibrium, and your sobriety before relationships, jobs, and any situation that may threaten your ability to avoid relapse. Take the space you need and funnel all of your energy into getting to a good place in recovery.