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Tools For Living Sober Part 1

Welcome to the first part to the new feature on the Sober Courage blog, called Tools for Living Sober which is based on the the highly recommended book published by Alcoholics Anonymous called Living Sober.


The Living Sober text was first published in 1975 by AA World Services. It is a book that describes methods to stay sober that were developed by AA members after the Big Book was published in 1939. The Living Sober text was written by Barry L. an AA member who joined AA in the mid-1940’s.

The book is a bit outdated in some of the wording and situation as you can imagine, but it still provides many pertinent suggestions for living a sober life, whether you are just starting out or have some time under  your belt.

There are 30 chapters in the book dedicated to the many ways that we stay sober. I have split them up into groups of six and created a 5 part series which will be published over the next several weeks.

Here are the first excerpts from the suggested methods for living without drinking:

1. Staying Away from the First Drink:

Occasionally, to regulate our drinking, we would go back to drinking—just one drink. And since that apparently did no grave damage, we felt it was safe to have another. Maybe that was all we drank that time, and it was a great relief to find we could take just one or two, then stop. Some of us did that many times. But this experience proved to be a trap. It convinced us that we could drink safely. And then there would come the time (some special celebration, a personal loss, or just because we have not) when two or three made us feel fine, so we thought one or two more could not hurt and with absolutely no intention of doing so, we found ourselves again drinking too much. We were right back where we had been— over-drinking without really wanting to. Such repeated experiences have forced us to this logically inescapable conclusion: If we do not take the first drink, we never get drunk.

2. Using the 24 Hour Plan:

The 24-hour strategy is very flexible. We can start it over at any time, wherever we are. We can decide right then not to take a drink during the approaching 24 hours, or five minutes. Even if we drank yesterday, we can plot not to drink today. We may drink tomorrow—who knows whether we will even be alive then?—but for this 24 hours, we choose not to drink. No matter what the attraction or provocation, we define to go to any extremes needed to avoid a drink today. The next drink will be available later, but right now, we delay taking it at least for the current day, or moment. So I say to myself – “I am not going to drink right now but if I still feel like it, I might in the next hour (or next day).” The next hour comes and the urge has passed, if not I do this for another hour. Many of us began our recovery in just this way. In fact, every recovery from alcoholism began with one sober hour.


3. Changing Old Routines:

When you want to not drink, it helps to shake up all those routines and change them all around. Certain set times, familiar places, and regular activities associated with drinking have been woven closely into the fabric of our lives. When we first stopped drinking, many of us found it useful to look back at the habits surrounding our drinking and, whenever possible, to change a lot of the small things connected with drinking. Especially for many the 5 o’clock was highly devoted to the drinking, but instead we found something new to do – perhaps we would take an unfamiliar route home, one that did not lead past our old drinking hangouts.

4. Eating or Drinking Something:

Many of us have learned that something sweet-tasting, or almost any nourishing food or snack, seems to dampen a bit the desire for a drink. So, from time to time, we remind each other never to get too hungry. Many alcoholics, when they first stop drinking, are found to be much more undernourished than they had suspected. (And the condition is encountered in all economic brackets.) For that reason, many of us are directed by our doctors to take supplemental vitamins. So perhaps many of us simply need nourishment more than we realize, and any good food in the stomach really makes us feel better physiologically. A hamburger, honey, peanuts, raw vegetables, cheese, nuts, cold shrimp, fruit gelatin, a mint—anything you like, that is good for you, can do the trick.

5. Making Use of Telephone Therapy:

We reach for the phone instead of a drink. Even when we don’t think it will work. Even when we don’t want to. At first, the thought of calling a new acquaintance, someone we barely knew, seemed strange, and most of us were hesitant. But the AA’s—those with more non-drinking days behind them than we had—kept suggesting it. They said they understood why we hesitated, because they had felt the same way. Nevertheless, they said, just try it, at least once. There’s more. Lots of us have found that when we wanted to drink, we could call someone more experienced in sobriety than we were, and it was not even necessary to mention that we were thinking of drinking. That was often understood, without a word.


6. Getting Plenty of Rest:

After we stop drinking, some disturbing effect may persist for leading to anxiety and insomnia. However, it is very significant to get plenty of rest when we stop drinking, because the idea of having a drink seems to arrive from nowhere with greater ease when we are tired. It’s even better, of course, to get our lives on a healthy schedule which allows an adequate regular rest period every 24 hours. One more curious item about sleep that often a great many of us start awakening some morning or night realizing we have just had an all-too-vivid dream about drinking. We may even awaken with chills, shakes, and other classic hangover jitters—when, of course, we haven’t touched a drop in months. It was all just a bad dream. And it may come out of the blue, long, long after our last drink. Not all of us have such dreams. But enough have for us to know that they are common, and harmless.

Tools For Living Sober: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

To purchase this book click the link below:

Living Sober is an extremely informative book which does not offer a plan for getting sober but does offer us sound advice about how to stay sober. Basic, essential information from Alcoholics Anonymous. As the book states, “Anyone can get sober. . .the trick is to live sober.” (From

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at

You may also find some great inspiration and support from all the awesome sober bloggers listed in the side bar under POSTS I LIKE and RECOVERY BLOGGERS, as well as Sober Courage page on Facebook and Sober Courage on Twitter.



  1. Some very fine advice here. I think that since – as you mention – the book is a little dated, there is one very important thing that could be added which studies in addiction science are now recommending: find an effective means for dopamine release. Substance addictions such as alcohol abuse confuse the regulation of happy chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, and as a result these can become a little low in persons caught in addiction or working towards recovery. It is very helpful to find a way to get these flowing again. Vigorous exercise is an excellent one. Finding a creative outlet – music, painting, gardening, etc – can also be effective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. HI Magz, I know this is an old post, but I had saved it, and read it over sometimes. I did get that book also, which has been helpful. I’m doing a little better, in that I have had up to 10 sober days, a few times, then falsely think I can just have one glass of wine, especially during a stressful event. So, that part of your post was especially helpful. I do start again on day 1 sober the next day. Thank you for your help and support. Sabrina

    Liked by 1 person

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