How to Stay Sober After Recovery


Pale purple hearts with dark purple words saying "Here's how you stay sober after recovery."
You've been through recovery, now what? How do you stay sober?

Staying sober after recovery isn't as straightforward as you might imagine. However, if you spend some time learning a variety of strategies to deal with triggers and stress, you're more unlikely to relapse. Here are a few things you may wish to try.

Know Your Triggers and Any Signs You May Sabotage Your Recovery

One of the biggest things you can do to remain sober is to understand your internal (e.g., feelings, thoughts, emotions) and external (e.g., people, places, things, situations) triggers. When you know what these are, you're able to prepare yourself to avoid them.

When you don't know your triggers, it's easy for a relapse to sneak up on you. It'll usually start with a simple thought "Hey, maybe I could just do it once," but before you know it you'll no longer be sober. This is especially true for the first 6 months to 2 years after recovery, depending on your substance of choice.

Build Healthy, New Relationships

Part of staying sober has to do with the people you hang around with. As you look back on your past relationships, you'll notice that some of them weren't only unhealthy, but they were downright toxic. It's not only the people who you use to party with or get drugs from either. You may surprise yourself by discovering who's actually acted as an enabler. You don't want to keep any toxic relationships around as they'll jeopardize your recovery.

There are lots of support groups available to help you find people who will encourage you to stay sober. You'll also find that it's easier to meet people now that you're sober and engaging in healthy activities.

Create a Schedule for Yourself

Leading a chaotic, disorganized lifestyle will also hinder your recovery. Sticking to a daily/weekly schedule will help you achieve goals. These are an important part of helping you stay sober.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

When you've chronically abused drugs or alcohol it takes a toll on both your physical and emotional health. Now that you're sober, it's time to prioritize self-care so that you build the fortitude to remain in recovery. Some of the things you'll want to incorporate into your self-care regimen include:
  • Exercising regularly
  • Making time for your hobbies
  • Eating nutritious meals
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Practicing relaxation techniques (e.g., mindfulness, meditation, yoga)

Budget Wisely

While in recovery, it's common to struggle with meeting responsibilities related to work and finances. However, anyone who's been active in their addiction for a while has probably developed some financial issues. Unfortunately, finances and finding/keeping a job can become a major trigger for you once you're sober. However, you can take small steps and in time everything will fall into place again.

One thing you can do is reach out to a vocational rehabilitation counselor. They'll help you update your resume, practice interviewing, and find jobs that match your skills and experiences. When you do return to work you should create a budget and ensure you invest in self-care so you don't jeopardize your recovery.

Learn Healthy Anger Management Skills

An emotion that many people struggle with while in recovery is anger. While anger is a "normal" emotion, if left unchecked, it can negatively impact your health and recovery. Many people who are now sober will admit that they've never learned how to manage their anger properly. It's never too late to learn these things, though.

Deal With Past Mistakes

Regretably, you've probably made some mistakes while active in your addiction. It's only natural to feel guilt (having negative feelings about your past behavior) or shame (having negative beliefs about yourself and your worth) for these things. When these emotions become excessive they'll hold you back in your recovery and may even result in relapse.

You may also discover that your friends and family have been emotionally affected by your addiction. Although they're happy that you're now sober, they may regret some of the decisions they made before you entered into recovery. The most important thing you can do is learn from your past mistakes so you can be more responsible now.

Seek Balance in Your Life

Unfortunately, it's quite common for those who are new in their recovery to substitute a new addiction for an old one. This new addiction may be healthy (e.g., dieting, exercising, working, attending support groups), but they can still be a stumbling block to lasting recovery. It's important to find a healthy balance that leaves you in control of your life and the choices you make. When you lose control is when you may also lose any progress you've made towards being sober.

Celebrate Recovery Milestones

Anyone who's involved in a 12-step program will tell you how important milestones are in their journey. These programs will reward you with chips for every month you remain sober from 6 months to one year. This is their way of acknowledging and celebrating the hard work you've put into your recovery. It's also their way of helping you remain motivated to stay sober. However, if you're not interested in attending one of these meetings, you should still set up a reward system for yourself. Just make sure that it doesn't involve drugs or alcohol.

A Final Word...

Recovery is a process. Setbacks are common. The best way to recover from substance abuse is to use a variety of strategies that support your success. You should also have an addiction recovery coach to help you remain sober. If you'd like to discuss my availability, I encourage you to reach out to me. I'm here to help you cope with the challenges you're facing now that you're sober and develop new, healthy ways of living.