How to Stay Sober
Alcohol addiction recovery is a lifelong process that requires a person to focus on doing everything that they can to maintain sobriety. While the first few days of recovery are typically the hardest, those who choose to become sober can rest assured that the following weeks and months tend to get easier over time. However, proper preparation is critical for helping a person to prevent relapse as they begin to rebuild their lives, and these strategies help people to remain sober as they use the skills that they learn in alcohol rehab.
Address Difficult Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary among people depending upon how long they have been struggling with addiction. While most people experience mild symptoms such as headaches and nausea, others may have alcohol withdrawal symptoms that are severe enough to trigger life-threatening reactions such as seizures and hallucinations. Fortunately, no one has to struggle with severe or uncomfortable symptoms for long when they choose to go to a detox program
that helps them get through those first few difficult days. Since this is a time when most people who try to quit on their own return to their drinking habits, having support at this point plays a strong role in relapse prevention.
Treat the Underlying Causes of Addiction
Alcohol abuse typically is a symptom of other mental health
issues that must be addressed for a person to be successful in sobriety. Unfortunately, people who struggle with depression, anxiety or an unaddressed trauma are more likely to continue to drink in an effort to alleviate their emotional pain. Although it is often difficult, people who choose to go to alcohol rehab
are provided with professional counseling and therapeutic services that help them to learn how to cope with the underlying causes of their addiction. For instance, identifying ways to relax helps a person to ease anxiety without resorting to alcohol.
Break Off Unhealthy Relationships
Once a person enters sobriety, it is common to discover that they have developed unhealthy relationships that contribute to their addiction. Sadly, the drinking buddies that a person relied on for socialization are the same ones that they may have to let go of as they change their habits. While this can be hard at first, the truth is that it opens up an opportunity to engage with other people that support a healthier lifestyle. Ending unhealthy relationships also stops the stress that comes from toxic people who engage in negative behaviors such as arguing or initiating fights.
Develop New Hobbies and Interests
People who stop drinking often find that they have many hours available during their day that they are unsure of how to fill. Since boredom is a risk factor for relapse, it is important for people who are in recovery to find healthy ways to fill their time. Ideally, they should have a list of activities in which they can engage to keep their mind off of drinking. For instance, going for a jog helps to burn off excess energy and anxiety that could trigger someone to pick up a drink. Playing sports, learning to play a musical instrument and taking a cooking class are just a few more ideas to help a person begin to cultivate new hobbies and interests. In fact, the first few months of sobriety are the ideal time to begin experimenting with different activities to find new ones, and people who take up this challenge often find that they have interests that they never would have discovered until they made the choice to end their drinking habits.
Implement Stress Management Strategies
Alcohol rehab centers offer professional counseling and recreational activities that are all designed to help people learn how to manage stress in their lives. After leaving rehab, people face serious challenges such as finding a job or mending a personal relationship that are all stressful. Additionally, those who have entered a rehab program may also need to handle other issues such as a health condition or financial struggles that tend to generate stress. Learning stress management strategies helps people to replace their drinking with healthier habits that provide a relaxing effect. Journaling is one type of stress management strategy that allows a person to vent their emotions. Yoga, meditation and deep breathing are a few more stress management strategies that a person can use when the temptation to drink arises.
Join a Support Group
No one should try to stay sober alone. Although it may be necessary to let unhealthy relationships go, this is also an opportunity to form new friendships with people who value sobriety. Support groups offer weekly, daily and monthly meetings that allow a person to gather with others who understand exactly what they are going through. In these support group meetings, a person can connect with other people, and many of these friendships grow to include activities outside of the group such as going to a museum to avoid giving in to a craving.
Establish a Relapse Prevention Plan
Before a person leaves their alcohol rehab, they can work with their counselors to develop a personalized relapse prevention plan that helps them stay sober. Usually, this begins by making sure that a person understands their personal triggers for cravings and has ways to combat them when they arise. For example, a person may know that walking by a bar on the way home from work is a trigger, so they create a new plan to get home such as taking a ride from a trusted sober friend. A relapse prevention plan may also consist of other strategies such as outpatient counseling, group therapy sessions and relaxation strategies that all work together to foster a lifestyle that supports sobriety.While the first year of sobriety tends to be the most challenging, a person who choose sobriety must always be on guard to prevent relapse. Naturally, new life events such as changing jobs, getting a divorce or experiencing a trauma all raise the risk of a relapse occurring. By having a plan in place, a person can look forward to working through new events in their life with confidence that they have the support they need to stay sober