sober woman

Living Sober: Tips for Newcomers to Recovery


Sober Recovery Expert Author

sober woman

When you're new to recovery, it may feel overwhelming learning how to cope with the uncertainty of sober life. You're on a new path now and things can take time. So go easy on yourself and remember recovery is an ongoing journey.

Just as you are an individual, your recovery will also be unique. There is no one "right path" to recovery. By trying different things, you will learn what works and what to let go of.

Every day sober is a day to celebrate.

Here are some tips to help get you started.

Find a Sponsor

It's tough to do recovery solo, regardless if you decide to attend traditional 12-step meetings such as AA or NA or seek out alternatives including SMART Recovery®, Refuge Recovery, or Celebrate Recovery.

It's a good idea to find a sponsor or recovery mentor who can help guide you through specific challenges. Inquire at meetings; oftentimes on the sign-in sheets sponsors identify themselves and their availability to sponsor. If you like the way someone is doing their recovery, they may be a good fit as a sponsor.

Make YOU a Priority

It's crucial to make yourself and your sobriety a priority. This means that saying yes to sobriety on a daily basis will require saying no to other things. You may need to reprioritize your life. This could include making time for meetings and self-care and learning to say no to others without feeling guilty.

Putting your needs first does NOT make you a selfish person. Your friends and family may need time adjusting to the "new you." And that's okay, you will not be able to please everyone. Learn how others are doing it in the Sober Recovery forums or listen to a recovery podcast for inspiration.

Accept Change

One thing that is certain in recovery is things will change. Making new friends and trying new things may feel awkward at times. You will need to adjust to those new feelings. Learning to just sit with your feelings (distress tolerance) instead of using may seem foreign at first.

Something that helped me tremendously, in the beginning, was repeating the first lines of The Serenity Prayer.

"God (or a higher power) grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

Acceptance becomes easier when you realize that many things are simply out of your control. Finding peace in acceptance is a powerful step towards longterm growth in recovery.

Try a New Hobby

In my early recovery, I was determined to master Yoga. I wanted to experience the peace and zen others reported. Yet, after attending class faithfully for months, I became increasingly frustrated trying to relax while twisting myself into impossible pretzel poses.

Finally, I realized (and allowed myself to accept) that I didn't like yoga. There, I said it. This allowed me to move on and find something that was enjoyable.

I much preferred Zumba. Maybe in a way it reminded me of the club but minus the alcohol and potential pitfalls of that environment. I also met new sober friends while learning to have fun in a healthy way.

Redefine Weekends

Weekends can be a trigger for relapse.

My weekends used to mean partying followed by trying to piece together the night before with friends over Sunday brunch. Who needed a ride to their car? Who needed an alibi? What REALLY happened? Now my weekends are much differentFriday nights have become, well... just another Friday night.

I had to learn to love just staying in and watching a movie. Going to weekend meetings helped me abstain from using. Taking naps or curling up with a good book was a welcome change after a hectic week. As time passed, I didn't miss the weekend partying or the damage control that always followed.

You will find healthy ways to redefine the weekends. It's a great time to practice self-care or sometimes just do nothing. Learning to enjoy your own company or rediscover a creative passion will help you get to know yourself better.

Find Yourself Again

When I was using, a boyfriend asked me why I only wrote while I was high? I didn't know how to answer him. Now I understand it was because I believed it necessary to be high to produce anything meaningful.

I thought that anything I wrote sober could not have possibly mattered to anyone. I "needed to be high" to feel that I was "good enough". I recently read some of that writing I did under the influence and...well, let's just say it's probably better no one read it.

We are enough and we do have value to add to the world being sober. What is something you have always wanted to try? What is something you only thought you could do while drunk or high?

Express Gratitude

Being grateful for what you already have can help put stressful challenges in perspective when they arise. Practicing gratitude daily will attract more things to be grateful for. Sometimes it's difficult to remain positive amid life's storms, but gratitude can help.

I like to keep a gratitude journal to remind myself of the many things I already have to be grateful for. A grateful heart invites more blessings to flow in.

Reward Yourself

Hey, recovery is hard work. Remember to celebrate your successes! Many people observe their sober anniversaries annually. If this is your first year sober, you can honor every 30, 60, or 90 days. Celebrate other milestones such as your first sober holidays or first time vacationing sober.

Celebrate by yourself or with family and friends. Treat yourself to an evening out or take the day off work and relax or go on a new adventure. Remember, you're getting to know yourself again and there is no "right way" to do recovery. Every day sober is a day to celebrate.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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