In 2017, nearly 20 million Americans over the age of 12 battled with a substance use disorder.
Sadly, nearly three-quarters of those who were struggling with substance use issues also suffered from an alcohol use disorder.
If you’ve gone through the hard work of getting sober, that’s incredible and worth celebrating!
At the same time, you’ve got to keep your eye on the ball. Here are 9 tips for staying sober.
1. Identify Your External and Internal Triggers
One of the most important steps in staying sober is understanding what your personal triggers are. External triggers are things like certain places, people, things, and situations that bring up cravings or thoughts associated with using substances. Internal triggers are thoughts, feelings, or emotions that you associate with substance use
It’s important to identify your triggers so you can come up with a plan to avoid them or prepare for them if they do come up.
2. Keep an Eye Out For the Warning Signs of Relapse
If you don’t know what the warning signs of relapse are, it can be hard to recognize when it’s sneaking up on you. There are typically three phases to any relapse, which are first an emotional relapse, then a mental relapse, and finally a physical relapse.
Some of the warning signs of relapse you should keep an eye out for are:
- Engaging and self-defeating and compulsive behavior
- Looping back to addictive thinking patterns
- Behaving less responsibly and thinking less rationally
- Seeking out circumstances that involve people who use drugs and alcohol
- Going back to addictive thinking patterns
- Ending up in a situation where alcohol or drug use seem like a solution to your pain
This is one of the most important tips for staying sober. If you don’t know what to look out for in terms of relapse symptoms, relapse can seem to come out of nowhere.
3. Be Prepared For PAWS
The length of time you experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) will depend on what kind of dependency you had. After you’ve stopped using, PAWS can last anywhere from six months to two years. The symptoms associated with PAWs can range from difficulty sleeping, prolonged depression, irritability, and intermittent anxiety.
4. Avoid Old Habits and Routines
If you’re wondering how to stay sober when you’re back in the old habits and routines of your life, the answer is: cut those habits and routines out completely. Hanging around the same places and with the same people can make it all too easy to fall back into using.
Of course, you won’t want to hang out with the people you used to use drugs with and those you obtained drugs from. After you identify what your triggers are, you might want to start driving different routes to avoid places, people, or things that could make you want to drink or do drugs again.
5. Build Relationships That Are Healthy
It might feel difficult to end old relationships now that you’re sober, but it’s probably becoming increasingly clear that many of your relationships were toxic and unhealthy. Though it’s hard to cut people out of your life who are enabling you or that you are engaged in a co-dependent relationship with, that doesn’t mean you can’t make new, sober friends.
Joining a support group can be a great way to find new sober friends and build healthy relationships.
6. Make and Stick to a Schedule
When your live has no order or routine to it, it’s hard to fully recover. This is why making a structured daily and weekly routine is essential. Sticking to this routine will help you reach goals you’re working towards and will be a huge help in staying sober.
7. Practice a Healthy Lifestyle
It’s time for you to start giving yourself the love and care that you deserve. Drinking and using drugs can be really rough on your physical and emotional health. Now that you’re staying sober, prioritizing your health will make you feel better and help you avoid relapse.
Here are some of the things you’ll want to incorporate into your healthy lifestyle:
- Eating regular, healthy meals
- Getting enough high-quality sleep
- Regularly exercising
- Taking time to engage in hobbies and recreational activities
- Practicing relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation
As a part of a healthy lifestyle, you want to find a good balance point in your life. It’s important to make sure you aren’t acting compulsively even towards the new healthy activities you undergo.
8. Get Financially Back on Track
It isn’t at all uncommon for people with substance use disorders to have difficulty managing money, meeting work-related responsibilities, and staying employed.
Having financial problems can be a major relapse trigger. Focusing on getting back on track financially can help you stay sober.
Consider contacting a career coach or vocational rehabilitation counselor. They’ll be able to help you find jobs that fit your experience and skills, revise your resume, and practice for interviews.
9. Celebrate Milestones
It’s really important that you celebrate and acknowledge all the hard work you’ve put into your recovery. This can help remind you of the reasons to stay sober and motivate you to keep going.
Of course, don’t let your celebration involve drugs and alcohol. Instead, celebrate milestones with activities, experiences, and things that are supportive of you in your new healthy lifestyle.
Staying Sober: You Can Do It!
Conquering a substance use disorder is an incredibly difficult thing to do, but it is possible. Through hard work and dedication, you can live a life you never imagined. Staying sober can be tricky, but it’s well worth the commitment so that you can live your best life.
Is it time for you or someone you love to kick the habit for good? Our addiction treatment program offers a place for individuals to be engaged and supported in their recovery full-time. Click here to learn more.