How to stay sober? The path to sobriety is no easy one. It is full of twists and turns, good days and bad. It is not a sprint, but a marathon. However, taking that first step, and then other smaller steps along the way, is something to be immensely proud of.
Alcohol and drug abuse are very common in society. It is important to not stigmatize it and offer help and support to those that need it.
Just to give a disclaimer, this article "how to stay sober" was not written by a medical professional or addiction specialist and is not meant to be medical advice. It is merely anecdotal suggestions. We encourage anyone who feels they need medical attention to seek it. You are not alone!
Staying sober for a month
Some people choose to go alcohol-free for 30 days to give their bodies a break. January is a common month to stop drinking, this is also known as Dry January since it is after the holiday season, but any month of the year can be a dry month if you choose.
However, doing this cold turkey will be incredibly difficult, and even potentially dangerous, for people who have an alcohol dependency.
Individuals with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) will greatly benefit from the help of medical professionals who specialize in addiction treatment and substance use disorders.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines alcohol use disorder as “a chronic brain disorder marked by compulsive drinking, loss of control over alcohol use, and negative emotions when not drinking.”
Alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe, but recovery is possible regardless. Various treatment facilities are meant for the recovery of alcohol and drug abuse.
People in recovery all have a different story and everyone’s road to long-term sobriety is different. Receiving professional help in a treatment center is necessary for some, but what about their daily lives once they leave?
Here are some tips that may help you to feel good during your long-term recovery.
1. Do your best to avoid the temptation
If all of your friends drink, but you are in recovery, it’s best to find a group of sober friends. Or better yet, if your friends are your real friends, they will more than likely be very happy to not drink while they are around you.
Having healthy relationships and a strong support system from your loved ones is crucial for any addiction recovery. Any person in your life should respect that you cannot be around alcohol early on in your sobriety journey.
2. Dive back into an old hobby or discover a new one
Everyone needs a hobby. It serves as an outlet and can be a great way to keep your mind off of any negative thoughts. A hobby can be any activity such as playing a sport or instrument, reading, writing, painting- anything you can think of!
The most important trait of whichever hobby that you choose to pursue is that it should bring you joy. Trying a new hobby can also be fun and interesting, but there’s no need to force it if you end up not enjoying it.
3. Develop an exercise regimen
Being physically active is great for not just your mental health, but for your overall well-being. Exercising burns calories to keep you in great physical shape and it also releases endorphins to help you feel mentally clear.
You don’t need to join a fancy gym to get a good workout in. You could go for a walk, hike, or run outdoors or even look up a yoga video on YouTube. Whatever makes you and your body feel good, do that!
4. Spend time with animals
If you are an animal lover, being in the presence of a friendly dog or cat might help lift your spirits. Animals can offer emotional support and unconditional love. If you can, perhaps it might be a good idea to consider adopting a dog or cat of your own.
5. Write in a journal
You don't need to be a writer to keep a journal. It can be an entirely private outlet where you write down all of your thoughts and feelings.
It's very therapeutic to vent to a journal. None of it has to be organized, the sole purpose is for it to be a release. If writing in a journal is something you'd like to try, there are many types of them available for sale. You'll find one that is perfect for you!
6. Attend support group meetings
Joining a support group is an excellent way to meet other people who are going through something similar to you. Many health experts highly recommend attending a support group as part of the recovery process.
Support groups also allow you to meet new people who will encourage you, and you can do the same for them. It is a reminder that you are not alone and you have an entire group to help support you on your journey.
Talking about your recovery with other people who have shared a similar experience may help you to accept the past and look forward to the future.
7. Try meditating
Meditation can be a powerful healing tool and can be practiced whenever and wherever you choose. Many people meditate either in the morning or evening, but some also do it multiple times per day.
Choose a comfortable place- sit on the floor, in your favorite chair, or lie down in your bed. There are also many mobile apps and self-guided meditation videos on the internet to help you along.
Some people swear by a meditation routine. Closing your eyes and breathing deeply is a practice that is so simple, yet can yield big results when it comes to clearing your mind.
8. Talk to someone that you love and trust
If you are feeling down, pick up the phone and call a family member, friend, or anyone you know that loves and supports you. Everyone has bad days now and then. Talking about your feelings is very healthy rather than bottling them up inside. Don't be afraid to confide in someone.
Feel free to pick up the phone and share your triumphs, too. When something positive happens or if you reach a new milestone, share the good news with a loved one. They’ll be so happy to hear from you.
9. Prioritize self-care
Practicing self-care means something different to everyone. Essentially, it is doing whatever makes your body and mind feel their best.
This can mean going for a walk, taking a bubble bath, having a spa day, or reading your favorite book. Self-care remedies are meant to make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. “Me time” is necessary, never feel ashamed for taking it!
10. Remember how far you’ve come
When you think about wanting to give up and the negative thoughts just won’t quit, remember why you’re on this path to sobriety.
You should be proud of yourself for obtaining help and venturing on a sobriety journey. Even the small victories are worth celebrating because everyone goes at their own pace and it is all part of a bigger picture. You are important, you are strong, and you are loved!