How to Get Sober and Stay Sober

Stop alcohol concept. Person refuse to drink alcohol.

The words ”getting sober” seem to roll off the tongue seamlessly.

However, putting these words into action can be much more of a challenge for those struggling with substance abuse.

Not doing the ”thing” that is bad for your health and well-being sounds like a simple concept to those who have never experienced what it’s like to have an addiction.

Sounds easy enough – just don’t do the ”thing”. That’s all well and good in theory, but quitting drugs or alcohol for good is much more complex than just ”not doing something” anymore.

Staying sober

Getting sober and staying sober involves much more than quitting alcohol or drugs; long-term sobriety often requires an entire life – change, and this prospect alone can be daunting.

You must speak to your doctor or addiction specialist for advice and treatment if you suspect you have a substance use disorder.

Attending therapy, inpatient treatment, and mutual support groups gives you a much better chance of maintaining and sustaining sobriety and enjoying the fulfilling, happy life you were born to lead.

Tips to help you stay sober

Group therapy. Rehab group on psychology support meeting, closeup

There are various things you can do to help yourself stay sober. Mental health professionals suggest the following tips to help you with long-term sobriety. They include:

  • Avoiding environments or situations that trigger (or fuel) your addiction
  • Understanding what triggers your alcohol or drug use
  • Joining support groups
  • Having a structured routine – for example, ensuring that you eat healthy, balanced meals every day and getting enough sleep.
  • Creating financial stability

Addiction recovery

Sober living is achievable with proper treatment and support.

If you are recovering from a substance use disorder, you’ll know more than anyone how challenging it is to go through the process of achieving sobriety. However, you have come a long way and should be immensely proud of this achievement.

However, to remain sober, you’ll need to do everything possible to avoid relapse.

According to the research literature, relapse is a common problem for those new to addiction recovery.

Relapse prevention

Studies show that the relapse rates for substance use disorders are significantly high.

For instance, in Vancouver, Canada, the relapse rates for drug and alcohol addiction are estimated to be between 40 and 60%.

According to the literature, these rates are similar to relapse rates for other chronic diseases such as asthma or hypertension.

The good news is that alcohol or drug misuse and addiction are highly treatable disorders, and sustaining recovery is possible.

Defining sobriety

Morning Yoga Meditation by the Beach

Sober living means different things to different people, but the goal is always the same; to get sober and stay sober.

Various definitions of sobriety exist, and you may find meaning in some explanations more than others.

Broadly, sobriety means not being under the influence of a substance (How to Stay Sober, Verywell mind, Buddy T, September 17, 2022).

In many 12-step programs, sobriety is used in a different context – for instance, sobriety means total abstinence – never using the substance again (How to Stay Sober, Verywell mind, Buddy T, September 17, 2022).

Additional definitions

Some addiction programs focus on developing coping skills and habits that cultivate and support health and wellness over the long term.

Proper treatment and a continuous support network make recovering from drug or alcohol abuse possible. However, setbacks are expected along the way, and many experience them before achieving long-lasting recovery.

A setback is a setup for a comeback.

Motivational speaker Les Brown once said that ”a setback is a set up for a comeback,” and this saying couldn’t be any more relevant to those in addiction recovery.

Studies show that up to 80% of people who find long-term sobriety experienced at least one relapse along the way (How to Stay Sober, Verywell mind, Buddy T, September 17, 2022).

Others may experience several setbacks before achieving lasting recovery.

Researchers say that despite a person’s good intentions, setbacks do happen, and it takes more than determination and willpower to prevent and avoid relapse.

Getting sober

There are various ways to get sober; however, sustaining sobriety isn’t as simple as it is often made out to be.

You may come across mixed messages and advice on how to stay sober – ”Go to the meetings, and don’t use or drink” might be a phrase you hear often.

However, sustaining recovery requires much more than quitting drugs and alcohol.

Avoiding relapse involves:

  • Learning to cope with stress
  • Identifying your triggers for alcohol or drug use
  • Understanding the warning signs of relapse
  • Managing your new (sober) life

Tips for staying sober

Deciding to abstain from drugs or alcohol is a brave and commendable thing.

Taking the first steps to become sober might not be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Abstaining from drinking and drug use

no to alcohol

Quitting something you have been doing for a long time may seem daunting, and you may not know precisely how to stop alcohol or drugs.

You may have attempted to abstain from substance use, or perhaps this is your first time; either way, the decision to quit alcohol or drugs are the first step to achieving sobriety and living the happy, content life you deserve.

Below are some valuable strategies to help you stop drinking or taking drugs that you may find beneficial.

Avoid triggers to drink or take drugs.

Avoiding triggers in today’s culture can be a challenge.

After all, having a ”liquid lunch” at work or going to an office party or event is a popular part of the corporate culture.

Hanging around a specific group of people, whether work colleagues or friends, who gather together to drink, are triggers you may want to avoid.

Reaching for a glass of wine or beer after a long day can be tempting.

However, addiction specialists advise people in recovery to figure out their triggers and seek ways to avoid them.

This may involve not keeping alcohol in the house and having healthy alternatives to drinking or taking drugs, such as going to the gym or running after work.

Create a plan to manage cravings and urges

When abstaining from alcohol or drugs, you will likely experience urges and cravings to start using again.

Being prepared can help you manage your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours when the cravings are intense, and the desire to use drugs or drink seems impossible to resist.

During these challenging moments, you might find it helpful to call a supportive friend, engage in physical exercise, and remind yourself why you decided to quit in the first place – such strategies can be of immense value and whatever works for you is best.

Identify relapse warning signs.

Relapses have a habit of creeping up on people – therefore, you must know the warning signs.

Addiction experts say that relapse begins long before a person takes a drug or picks up a drink – the process involves three stages; emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse (How to Stay Sober, Verywell mind, Buddy T, September 17, 2022).

There are various warning signs of relapse, including:

  • Behaving less responsibly and thinking less rationally
  • Seeking out people who use alcohol or drugs.
  • Re-engaging in addictive thinking patterns
  • Finding yourself in situations where alcohol or drug use seems like the only logical escape from pain (How to Stay Sober, Verywell mind, Buddy T, September 17, 2022).
  • Engaging in self-destructive, compulsive behaviours

Learn how to say ”no” to drugs and alcohol

depression and cures

It would help if you learned to say no to drinking or drug-taking, although sometimes this can be easier said than done.

Those in recovery may find it challenging (or even rude) to refuse a drink and may have just one glass to avoid having to explain themselves or justify their reasons for not drinking. 

It’s perfectly okay for you to say no to a drink, and you don’t need to come up with a colossal explanation or elaborate excuse, either.

You could politely refuse by saying something quick and concise like, ”no, thank you, I’m not drinking today” and move the conversation along.

Seek treatment and support.

Finding recovery often means changing your life – this may involve building healthy relationships with friends and family, creating new, sober friends, joining mutual support groups, and going to therapy.

Seeking help from a mental health professional can help you manage some of the challenges you may face during recovery.

During therapy, you will learn new coping skills and address any underlying trauma that may have caused you to drink or take drugs.

Additionally, your therapist may suggest addressing any co-occurring conditions hindering your recovery, including anxiety, depression, or other disorders.

Other ways to stay sober involve:

  • Adopting a healthier lifestyle.
  • Spending quality time with friends and family.
  • Avoiding places or people in which you would ordinarily use drugs or alcohol.

Addiction experts suggest that people in addiction recovery may benefit from developing a structured routine. 

This may include practicing healthy living such as regular exercise, eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep every night, and focusing on building your finances.

Staying sober is always the goal.

However, having other objectives and ideas can help you sustain sobriety in a way that inspires and motivates you.

Contact us

If you want more information about this article or are struggling with addiction, the Centres for Health and Healing team can help.

We specialize in treating various substance addictions and co-occurring disorders and are always available to lend a supportive ear.

Contact the team today.

Additional resources

  1. How to Stay Sober – 13 Tips for Your Recovery: Verywell mind, Buddy T, September 17, 2022
  2. How to Get Sober from Alcohol: American Addiction Centers, Stacy Mosel, L.M.S.W. August 18, 2022
Lisa Davies - Program Director of Vaughan Recovery and Kirby Estate

About Lisa Davies

Lisa is the Program Director at Centres for Health and Healing. She lived for most of her life in the Durham region, before moving to Peel five years ago.

Lisa is a Master Hypnotist and is certified in Hypnotherapy (2008), Self-Hypnosis and in 5-phase Advanced Therapeutic Healing. As a Member of National Guild of Hypnotists, she is also specialized in hypnosis training in pediatrics, pain management, neuro-linguistic and stage programming.

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