How to Get Sober and Stay That Way

 In Life in Recovery

Substance abuse is alarmingly common in today’s society, with nearly 20 million people diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder each year. Many people believe that the difficult part of getting clean is actually getting sober. While it is a challenging road, staying sober can be just as difficult, if not more so. To make a complete recovery from addiction, you’ll need to take some necessary steps. First, to get sober. Then to stay that way.

Step 1: Ask for Help

Few people can get or stay sober on their own. You will likely need some help along the way. This can come in the form of a rehab program, NA or AA meetings, a sponsor, or all of the above. Rehab centers can help you identify your level of addiction and make recommendations based on that, but at the end of the day, the help you choose is your decision.

Help often includes doctor prescribed medication as well as behavioral intervention and education. This includes medications that block the effects of certain drugs, like Naloxone, and medications that can help treat withdrawal symptoms, suboxone, and those that help balance brain imbalances, like antidepressants.

Step 2: Leave the Past in the Past

When people are in the midst of addiction, they make bad decisions that they will regret later. However, holding onto the guilt over past choices will only hold you back from becoming who you want to be today. Acknowledge past mistakes, make amends when you can, and then leave them where they belong, in the past.

Step 3: Honesty and Self Reflection

To stay sober, you have to know what your weak points are. Make note of situations and feelings that tempt you to use again. Do not simply tell yourself that since your sober, you will have enough willpower to overcome temptations. This is an unnecessary gamble.  Sooner or later situations will arise that tempt you no matter how hard you try to avoid them, but the less often this happens, the more likely you are to remain sober.

Being honest with yourself also means not telling yourself you can have just one and be ok. This is likely the thing that trips people in recovery up the most. You want to believe it. You want to be like everyone else. To be able to enjoy yourself and remain in control. The problem is, you can’t. You must recognize that one will lead to way too many for you, and start the process of addiction and recovery over again.

Step 4: Avoid Temptation When Possible

Identify the situations that are tempting for you that you can avoid, and do so. For example, going to a bar can be avoided. You can also remove all alcohol from your home. It’s easy to say that you are keeping it around for guests or a special occasion, but it is not worth it. Remember, the harder it is for you to get rid of it, the more important it is for you to do so. If you make excuses or fight with yourself, that is the addiction talking.

Changing your social circle is another important part of recovery. If you hang out with the same people, you will continue doing the same things. We become like the people we spend the most time around. Hanging out with the same people you were using with will also create temptation.

One of the hardest parts of getting sober and staying that way is letting go of people that you consider friends. As hard as it is, it is necessary. Find new friends that you can look up to, and that support your desire for sobriety.

Step 5: Plan Ahead

Once you’ve identified what feelings and situations create temptation for you, make a plan for how to deal with them without giving in to your addiction. Some situations are easily avoided, like going to a bar. What about going out to dinner with friends and seeing them order a drink? Attending a sporting event?

These situations are harder to avoid, and you’ll need a plan ahead of time. One of the easiest ways to deal with social situations involving alcohol is to simply let your friends and family know that you have decided to get sober. Ask them to help you by not drinking around you. Anyone who cares about you will see it as a very small sacrifice to keep you on the road to recovery.

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