Maintaining sobriety is hard enough as it is, even with support and treatment. Despite all the advice, tips, and practice put into redefining your thoughts and shaping your perspective through therapy, you may still struggle with cravings. This is normal for the first few months of recovery – it can several weeks for some drugs to completely leave the bloodstream (others only take a few hours), and after that, it can take up to a year to reverse the damage drugs deal to the brain as much as possible.
For many, that first year is grueling, and the first three months can seem impossible. But when you are struggling with all that on top of the temptation of having alcohol all around you, the challenge goes up a notch. That does not mean there is no hope for recovery, or that relapses are bound to happen. You can stay sober, if you take the right approach to your situation.
Stay Sober by Making Sobriety Fun
The first thing you need to address is whether you enjoy being sober. In the beginning, this is entirely a matter of perspective. Some see addiction as a chain around their ankle, and that boost into sobriety is the new lease on life they needed. Others see their addiction to cope with living and consider the need to stay sober for others a curse rather than a boon.
It is important to have fun while sober and approach the situation with a positive mindset. If sobriety is nothing more than an endless grind to you, then you will never stay sober. You can tolerate a little bit of misery, but if your life becomes a mental prison to you, then eventually you will think of nothing but escape.
Some people need exercise to find their groove in sobriety. Others need art, or a similar passion. Whatever it is that drives you to live your life to the fullest, it’s out there and you need to find it and embrace it. Try things out, make new friends, and create new memories. This is the first step towards convincing yourself that sobriety is not all that bad – and may in fact be your chance at a better life.
Stay Sober by Getting Away from It All
The simplest way to stay sober when surrounded by alcohol is to leave the room. If you are still going to parties where people serve alcohol, consider not going, or consider asking the organizers to go non-alcoholic. Walking around with a non-alcoholic drink to avoid being offered alcohol can be a good tip, but if you are deeply struggling to stay clean and find yourself regularly challenged through casual social alcohol consumption, the safest thing to do is move away from it all.
If your family or friends continue to drink without much regard for your sobriety, then consider moving away, and finding new friends. In fact, you may find that some of the friends you used to have while still hooked are not such great company now that you are clean.
Stay Sober by Sticking to The Plan
Ever heard “consistency is key?” Most treatment plans emphasize the importance of schedules, structure, and consistency. The mind loves consistency, especially when you try to learn something. Speeches are delivered in such a way that they keep listeners engaged, while consistently repeating the same key points over and over again. Most forms of sport involve repeating basic drills to improve motor neuron function and boost the body’s efficiency. Teachers build their subject curriculum around several key lessons, and help their students consistently work through the material to gain (and hopefully maintain) knowledge.
By being consistent day in and day out, you retrain the brain. This is important, because addiction changes the way the brain prioritizes things, making it difficult to be consistent about anything other than a regular high. By antagonizing an addiction with a disciplined approach toward treatment, you increase your chances of replacing one form of commitment with another. To be committed to your sobriety, you need to do more than swear you won’t ever use again – you have to put in the work, day in and day out, to steer clear from triggers, ignore cravings, and maintain a schedule that balances your work life and your responsibilities with your hobbies and favorite stress management techniques.
However, this is a massive task, one that most people do not have the willpower to achieve alone. Never think that this is a completely one-person job – understand that while you need to walk your way, you can have others help keep you on your feet when you trip or stumble. Having friends and family around to help you stay consistent is a tremendously important part of maintaining sobriety, especially when you’re tempted all around.
Stay Sober by Enrolling in a Sober Living Home
There is quite a lot you can do to alleviate the stress of being faced with constant temptation. By adding onto the quality of your recovery and creating a whole new relationship between yourself and your sobriety, you can help distract yourself from cravings and fortify your commitment towards staying clean. Furthermore, by making new friends and reconnecting with old ones you can help create a safety net that keeps you clean even on the hard days.
But if you need another option, then the safest thing to do is head into a sober living home. Unlike other addiction treatment clinics that typically focus on helping people through early recovery or during a relapse, a sober living home exists just to create a normal living space for people who want to spend time in a drug-free environment, while still leading normal lives. Some sober living homes are stricter than others, but most follow a set of rules:
- No drug use.
- Strict curfews.
- Chores and responsibilities for every tenant.
- It is required that tenants have work or are currently looking for work, unless they are still in school.
Beyond that, sober living homes can vary wildly. Some are extremely strict with what they allow and do not allow within the premises of the community, including alcoholic mouthwash. Others put more of a focus on regular community events and group meetings, making these mandatory, so individuals get used to being part of a supportive group of people.
Whatever you choose, a sober living home is a perfect place to go when you desperately need help staying clean and want every assurance that there will be no temptation around you. However, if you have been clean for several months and are through with your recovery programs, make sure you have considered the other options before going back to a clinic or a sober home. While sober living communities often have no limit on how long someone can stay, learning to live with temptation rather than completely avoid the issue is a big part of overcoming the addiction. Do not tempt yourself too much – find your red line, and get professional help before you cross it.