How to stay sober means different things to different people.
It could be that you want to learn how to get someone sober. Addiction is a family disease, and if a loved one is addicted to alcohol or drugs, this can impact the whole family unit.
Perhaps you want to find out how to get sober and stay sober yourself, whether that’s learning how to stay sober from drugs or from alcohol. Whatever the case, The District Recovery has a number of tools and programs, including our sober living homes, in place to help anyone dealing with substance abuse.
When you’re considering getting sober and staying sober, it pays to think of the entire recovery process as just that – a process, ideally a lifelong process. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder, with anywhere from 40% and 60% of those in recovery relapsing once or more, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
So, if you approach recovery from addiction to drink or drugs hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, and if you look beyond detox and withdrawal to the bigger picture, you’ll soon yourself embracing sobriety while reclaiming the life you lost to addiction or building a new and more vibrant future for your sober self.
Before you can stay sober, though, you need to move away from active addiction and into the recovery process proper. While the process is involved, it’s also relatively straightforward, and there’s no reason you can’t get started right away.
How to Get Sober
Before you can start the recovery process, you need to recognize and admit that you have a problem with alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs.
Unfortunately, this is not always seamless, with denial a common by-product of substance abuse. The brain also undergoes functional and structural changes as a result of alcohol abuse or drug abuse. Resultantly, if your loved one denies the existence of a problem with drink or drugs, or if you find yourself denying you have a problem in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, this is commonplace. All that counts is overcoming this denial and facing up to the substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder.
Both alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder are diagnosed based on your responses to eleven questions set out in DSM-5, the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Your addiction will then be diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe, according to the number of positive responses to these questions.
Once your healthcare provider establishes the scope and severity of your addiction, you are then better placed to determine the best course of treatment. NIDA states there is no universally beneficial form of addiction treatment, so it’s vital you get the right treatment for your needs.
Most severe addictions respond best to inpatient rehab, while outpatient treatment is proven effective for treating most mild and moderate addictions.
If you feel you need more structure and support than a conventional outpatient program provides, you have two more intensive forms of outpatient treatment available:
- PHP: A PHP or partial hospitalization program is a full-time form of outpatient treatment involving up to 35 hours of weekly sessions.
- IOP: An IOP or intensive outpatient program is a part-time form of outpatient treatment involving a minimum of 9 hours of weekly session
In both of the above cases, you return home or to a sober living home after each session.
By embracing the road to recovery with professional help and support in place rather than braving it alone, you’re likely to build a firmer foundation for sustained recovery, while minimizing your chances of relapse.
A few words next on sobering up from chronic alcohol abuse before we explore how you can best stay sober in the face of ongoing challenges and temptations.
How to Get Sober from Alcohol
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, along with most experts, suggests that medical detox can minimize the risk and discomfort of withdrawal symptoms during detox.
If you have been drinking heavily and long-term, FDA-approved medications can help to reduce the intensity of both cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Once you have flushed the alcohol from your system over the course of a few days, you’ll then need to think about what it takes to stay sober: committing to a treatment program and following through on that program.
To reiterate, there is no boilerplate solution suitable for everyone. Instead, you’ll need to work with a treatment provider to establish the most fitting course of treatment for you. That, ultimately, is all that counts.
You may also find that 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous offer you the peer support you need to navigate any challenges and roadblocks on your journey to ongoing sobriety.
How to Stay Sober Without AA
While membership in AA or other similar mutual support groups – SMART Recovery, for instance – is beneficial for many alcoholics in recovery, that doesn’t mean you should feel compelled to include this as part of your recovery plan.
If you find these peer support groups help you stay accountable while providing you with welcome support, you should attend as many meetings as you feel necessary.
If, on the other hand, you don’t find much benefit from this form of support group, don’t feel compelled to attend. Many people get sober and stay sober without attending any 12-step support groups, so do what works for you.
Assuming you pursue and engage with treatment, how can you ensure you stay on track for the long haul?
How Can I Stay Sober
During the early phase of recovery, whether you’re fresh out of rehab or just finishing up an outpatient treatment program, you might find things particularly challenging.
Here are six simple ways to maximize your chances of recovery without relapse:
- Build a new and improved routine while avoiding your old habits
- Create a healthier lifestyle
- Identify and learn to master your addiction triggers
- Familiarize yourself with the signs of relapse
- Eliminate any toxic friendships while building new and sober friendships
- Make sure you have a solid support network in place
1) Build a new and improved routine while avoiding your old habits
Addiction to drink or drugs is immensely time-consuming. Obtaining the substance, using the substance, and recovering from using the substance eats up a huge amount of time.
Newly sober, you’ll need to create a new routine, while at the same time avoiding any destructive habits that previously led you to abuse substances.
The easiest way to get started is by avoiding any people, places, or things that you associate with substance abuse. This alone will significantly reduce your likelihood of relapse.
Rather than attempting to kill the expanse of time at your fingertips, instead, try experimenting with new ways of filling that time. You might like the idea of re-engaging with an old and neglected hobby, or you may fancy the thought of trying something new.
Next, you can build on this solid start by pursuing a healthier lifestyle.
2) Create a healthier lifestyle
If you abuse drink or drugs to the point of addiction setting in, you can expect a shower of adverse health outcomes, both physical and psychological.
Once you have purged your body of toxins during the detox and withdrawal phase of recovery, you can capitalize on this by focusing on the following:
- Exercising daily for at least thirty minutes
- Eating healthy whole foods
- Minimizing your consumption of processed foods
- Getting enough sleep
- Practicing meditation or yoga to relax
3) Identify and learn to master your addiction triggers
One of the most crucial ways you can strengthen your sobriety is by learning to identify what triggers you to abuse substances. You should explore your triggers during the psychotherapy component of your treatment programs, usually through CBT sessions.
More importantly, though, you need to develop healthier coping strategies so you navigate life’s stressors without reaching for alcohol or drugs.
Triggers can be anything from people, places, and things through to emotion-based triggers like family problems or financial worries, and they can also be everyday life stressors.
With the right strategies in place, you just need the commitment and willpower to execute on these strategies rather than succumbing to your cravings and relapsing.
4) Familiarize yourself with the signs of relapse
Relapse typically unfolds over three distinct phases, and the more familiar you are with the stages of relapse, the more chance you stand of resisting the temptation to use substances.
Emotional and mental relapse occurs before physical relapse in the form of substance abuse.
Keep an eye out for any of the following markers of potential and imminent relapse:
- Thinking less clearly and less rationally
- Behaving more irresponsibly
- Engaging in self-defeating behaviors
- Feeling that substance use would relieve your pain
- Returning to harmful patterns of addictive thinking
5) Eliminate any toxic friendships while building new and sober friendships
During the recovery process, you will have an ongoing opportunity to reevaluate your relationships and your friendships.
Returning from rehab to spend time with old drinking buddies or drug dealers will put you at much higher risk of relapse. It’s a smart idea to reconsider any friendships predicated on substance use.
If you have developed a codependent relationship with a friend or family member during active addiction, now is the perfect time to reassess that relationship, and also to make healthy changes.
Toxic relationships of any kind are potentially damaging to your recovery. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be disciplined about who you let into your life.
6) Make sure you have a solid support network in place
When you begin to transition back into your day-to-day life, whether that’s from inpatient or outpatient rehab, you should build a robust support network around you.
Friends and family can play an instrumental role in your recovery, but you should also look beyond your personal network.
Attending 12-step meetings can help you to benefit from the experience of others going through the same experience.
You may also find engaging with an aftercare program and some form of maintenance counseling helps you stay more confident in your sobriety.
We can help you every step of the way here at The District Recovery Community.
Staying Sober with The District Recovery
Whatever the extent of your addiction to drink or drugs, we can help you get sober and stay sober with our evidence-based outpatient treatment programs.
Not only will you leave TDRC’s Huntington Beach rehab with a strong foundation for sustained sobriety, but you will also have access to an alumni program and the right aftercare to minimize your chance of relapse.
If you’re concerned about the cost, we’re happy to accept insurance for treatment. To discuss your treatment options and to start down the road to recovery and learn how to stay sober, reach out to admissions right now at 844.287.8506.