Written by Robert Tropp
When you get sober after years of substance abuse, you no doubt feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride. While you should celebrate this important milestone, your journey has just begun. You will find that staying sober requires the same hard work and determination as it took to get sober in the first place. While you will encounter difficulties, keeping the following 10 tips in mind will make maintaining your sobriety much easier.
Steer Clear of High-Risk Situations
An easy tip for staying clean and sober is to avoid the people, places, and events where drinking and drug-taking are high. This includes bars, social events such as holiday parties, and your old circle of friends who use substances. While it may be impossible to avoid these situations entirely, you must make a conscious effort to avoid these stressors.
Say No and Mean It
An important part of staying clean and sober is learning to say the word NO. There will be times where friends may offer you a drink or drug, and there will be social situations where there you may be tempted to imbibe. When offered a substance or encountering a situation where your cravings from drugs and alcohol are high, say no and walk away.
Ride the Wave
When the urge to use drugs and alcohol hit you, the feelings can be very powerful. If you let these feelings take over, you become vulnerable to relapse. When the urges to use it, distract yourself and let it pass. While it may feel like forever, an urge usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. You can employ techniques such as mindful meditation or distract yourself through exercise. You can also call a family member, friend or a sponsor.
Find a Support Group
A great way to stay clean and sober is to find a sober support group. These groups are full of people who share similar experiences like yours, and they can be your rock when your will is weak. While 12-step groups such as AA and NA come to mind, you can also explore alternative groups such as SMART Recovery and LifeRing.
Those recovering from alcohol abuse, finding alternative drinks besides water and soda can be hard. The act of having a drink in hand can be of great comfort and can help alleviate the anxiety of social situations. Mocktails are cocktail-type drinks that look like cocktails but don’t have the alcohol. There are a large variety of mocktails that are easy to make and taste great.
Long-term sobriety hinges on optimal body functioning, and engaging in regular exercise can help. It can be as simple as going for a 30-minute walk every day, or you can challenge yourself with weight training, martial arts or taking up a sport like basketball. Exercise realizes endorphins which are the brain’s “feel good” chemical. Regular exercise helps you look and feel great!
Be the Designated Driver
Whether it is a night on the town, a social function or a gathering of family and friends, offer to be the designated driver. This will give you a sense of responsibility and focus, and you are doing a tremendous service for those who may have too much to drink. It also gives you an iron-clad excuse to why you aren’t drinking!
Many times, those in recovery get nervous (and maybe a bit embarrassed) if someone asks why they aren’t drinking or using substances. Be open and honest and tailor your response depending on the person. For those who know you, you can be more candid and state how drinking and drug taking affected your life. For those you don’t know well, you can simply say that you are driving or that you need to get up early the next day.
Manage Physical Pain
If you are in recovery, nagging aches and pains due to injury or chronic condition can be problematic. You want to be very careful about taking medications that may lead to relapse. Be proactive and ask your doctor or healthcare provider for natural alternatives to manage physical pain.
Perhaps the biggest tip to keep in mind is to stay humble and grateful for the person you have become. Take time during your day to reflect on the positives of your recovery. Celebrate the milestone you have reached both small and big. Additionally, be of service to others through volunteering or mentoring others.
By keeping these tips in mind, you will be able to keep your recovery at the forefront. While your sobriety requires hard work, what you put into it is well worth it.
This blog post has been sponsored by
Nuview Treatment Center
Author bio: Robert Tropp is a functional nutrition practitioner whose primary focus is substance abuse and mental health disorders. Robert used functional medicine to help heal his mind and body, and now uses the lessons he learned in his journey to wellness to help others to regain their mental and physical well-being. Robert is an advocate for the importance of nutrition in addiction recovery and works as the health and wellness director at Nuview Treatment Center in Marina Del Rey, CA.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).