Ok, so once you’ve gotten sober or eliminated your problem drinking behavior, how do you stay sober? Staying sober is essential and also probably one of the most difficult aspects of recovery. The last thing you want to do is relapse and fall back into the same addiction trap.
Well, the simple answer to the question of how to stay sober is an easy one. Don’t drink. That’s the easy answer but, unfortunately, it’s not so easy to implement. In fact, it can be extremely difficult. There are a number of things that can keep your mind off of alcohol.
First, surround yourself with supportive people. The support can be in any shape or form. Join a basketball league and play on a team where your teammates are all supportive of each other and create a positive atmosphere. This will help build your self esteem. You could start a new hobby or craft and join groups that are associated with them. All these things can take your mind off of drinking and build your self confidence.
Obviously, you need to have people in your life that are able to support the fact that you won’t drink. This can sometimes be more difficult then it sounds. Many people will think you’re joking if you tell them you don’t drink. And, quite a few people won’t understand the significance of your commitment. Many times they will just go on drinking and partying around you without regard to the difficulties you may be facing in your head. So, don’t hang around these people. Associate with people that don’t drink or that take your commitment seriously and support you.
If the people you used to hang out with cannot understand or respect your choice not to drink then don’t hang out with them anymore. It may be a tough decision to make but it must be made.
Second, you’ve got to set goals for yourself. You’ve probably heard of a bucket list. This is a list of all the things you want to do before you die. Places you want to go to, things you want to do, people you want to meet etc. Make a bucket list with both small and large goals. The small goals you can achieve faster and build confidence while working toward the larger goals. This goal list will give you some focus on something other then drinking and allow you to see that your future can be exciting and interesting.
Third, you should get involved in new activities. As mentioned previously, you should try a new sport or a new hobby. Try different foods or different music. Try cooking those different foods or taking up a musical instrument. Think of things you wish you had been able to do in the past but were unable and try them out. New activities give you the feeling of starting fresh and different.
Fourth, avoid triggering events. You’re probably very familiar with what triggers your desire to drink. Stay away from those triggers. The holidays, parties, sporting events on TV etc. can all be triggers. It may not be possible to avoid them completely but you should limit your time around them and have a plan to deal with them while you’re there. If you go to a party or holiday event be sure to have a quick way out in case you encounter some difficulty coping. Make the choice ahead of time that you WILL leave if you feel uncomfortable and the do it.
Finally, your goal should be to stay sober. If it doesn’t happen and you relapse don’t become depressed and give up completely. Deal with it quickly and get back to your sobriety plan. Some may use a relapse as an excuse to give up sobriety and fall back into their old destructive behaviors. Don’t do it. Don’t be overly self critical. Accept the fact that the journey is going to be difficult and you may have obstacles along the way. Keep focused and stick to your plan. In the long run you’ll be glad you did.
Remember, sobriety is the most important factor. Most everything else is secondary. Prioritize things that way and you should be able to make the best decisions possible.