Getting sober is hard. Each person’s journey out of addiction is unique. Choosing not to take another drink or use drugs one more time happens in moments, some of which are tougher than others. The following ten proven habits can ease the transition into staying sober during your initial recovery and beyond.
How? By forming new habits to take the place of old ones, recovering addicts aren’t left trying to figure out how to live day-to-day. New habits offer a roadmap to follow. Some of them offer emotional support. Some provide physical benefits while others create safe boundaries. But all of them do the same thing, they keep you moving forward.
- Stop Buying Drugs or Alcohol
This seems obvious, but if you’ve been drinking or using for years, it’s part of your routine. When things get tough, you reach for your addiction. It’s how you cope. It’s what you know how to do. Breaking a routine is hard. But this is the first conscious choice you need to make.
- Make New Friends
When you choose to get sober, you’re going to discover that you need new friends. It’s part of the process. You need companions who engage in activities that don’t include alcohol or drugs. It’s not your job to help your current drinking buddies feel comfortable with your decision or change their behavior. Your job is to make choices for yourself, some of them tough, that will move your life forward.
- Surround Yourself With Sober People
How do you surround yourself with sober people who get you? The quickest way is to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. There are also treatment centers and therapists specializing in addiction recovery. These are options that help you connect with people who know what you are going through. They’ll be there to help you stay strong when you have the urge to give in.
- One Day at a Time
Make a commitment not to drink or do drugs today. Just today. Don’t focus on tomorrow. Focus on making it through the next 24-hours. If that feels like too much to handle, then focus on making it through the next hour. Or the next fifteen minutes. Recovery is a long process. There is only one rule – make the choice to stay sober.
- It will be Uncomfortable
You need to know that there will be tough times- bad days or even bad weeks. This is normal. It’s part of the process of getting and staying sober. And it’s OK. Sometimes it feels like a battle. But a bad day is just a bad day. It will pass. Reach out to someone you trust who can make you laugh, offer advice, or sit with you while you vent.
- Find a Sponsor
You need a point person who knows what you’re going through. This person is often called a sponsor. This is the person you reach out to when you’re having that bad day. They know how to be there for you when you feel like giving in. Ask a counselor for a recommendation. Or, if you attend group meetings, let the other members know what you need.
- It’s OK to Eat Sweets
And it’s OK to drink coffee. You won’t be the first person at the group meeting who keeps reaching for the chocolate chip cookies. Or drinking a gallon of coffee loaded with cream and sugar. The people around you get it. At some point, sobriety will start to feel familiar. At some point, you will find you want fewer cookies.
- It’s OK to Exercise
Some people find that working out helps them stay focused. So if regular workouts help you sleep, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce stress, enjoy it.
- It’s OK to Not Drink
No one is going to judge you for not drinking at a family get-together or a friend’s wedding reception. You don’t need to drink to fit in. Join every toast with your club soda and lime and live in the moment.
- Don’t Go to the Bar
This is especially important during the early days of sobriety. Don’t go to your favorite bar thinking you can tough it out and drink seltzer water while your buddies drink beer. Find new hangouts where your addiction of choice does not live. Give yourself every opportunity to stay clean and sober.
Getting sober and clean and staying sober and clean is hard. It takes focus. It takes time. And it takes sober friends and healthy choices. It took time for you to create a lifestyle around addiction. It’s going to take some time to get used to a lifestyle without it. But replacing old habits with new ones can help you stay sober during recovery and beyond.