You've been abstinent from drugs for some time and feel good. But every recovering addict needs to realize that staying sober takes commitment and work to make the necessary lifestyle to find long-term success in recovery, and this can be a life-long challenge.
The Fallout of Addiction
Addiction affects not only the addict but also other people in their life, including family, friends, and colleagues. In addition to maintaining abstinence, there are a variety of issues that many recovering addicts must deal with, including:
- Relationships in need of repair
- Rebuilding finances or job security
- Legal issues
The goal of maintaining sober living is that an addict or alcoholic will not partake in any substance abuse, emotional drama, or behavior that will cause further self-destruction. The recovering addict most probably will have to change his or her lifestyle (no more hanging out with friends who like to party) and avoid triggers that could cause a relapse.
Steps to Take for Sobriety
A person in recovery who is making every attempt to maintain sober living should follow the lessons learned in rehab or during a 12-step program. It requires a great deal of self-reflection to continue to gain personal and spiritual growth.
Here are a few key things to remember to maintain a sober life:
- Be honest with yourself in your relationships. Honesty is an important component of maintaining sober living. A self-assessment of past behaviors while drinking or drugging is the first step in this honest approach to sobriety.
- Find a hobby or interest to occupy idle time is essential. It can be a sport, class, or community service activity. Not only does this use idle time, during which nothing productive ever happens, it also gives the recovering addict a feeling of accomplishment and boosts self-esteem. Read here to see how to budget those new hobbies.
- Attend 12-step program meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). It is instrumental in maintaining a sober life. Sharing familiar stories and experiences with others who have traveled the same journey can help to strengthen a person's recovery.
- Secure a resourceful sponsor in the 12-Step program. A sponsor affords the recovering addict a reliable source of support when confronted with the temptations of life. A sponsor is only a phone call away.
- Continue with counseling and/or therapy for emotional support. This part of the support plan helps the addict to set and maintain realistic recovery goals. A psychiatrist or other health care professional can add in medications as needed to treat depression and/or anxiety, which are not uncommon among addicts.
- Change some of your friends, if necessary. Those with whom you spent time imbibing or engaging in questionable behavior need to go. In recovery, a new set of supportive friends and peers will help to maintain a sober life.
Additional Ways to Maintain Sobriety
There are sober recovery houses, which provide an addict with a safe environment in which to segue back into their newly sober environment. A person in the early phase of recovery can learn coping skills in this type of living situation before they return home to face life head-on.
There is another option to help maintain a sober life. In addition to changing the basics of life, there are also physician-ordered medications that some recovering addicts choose to try.
Some drugs cause extreme nausea if taken while actively drinking; others decrease a person's craving for alcohol, and another choice lowers anxiety and sleeplessness, which sometimes accompanies recovery. Whether or not to take medication is an individual choice that one should discuss with a qualified health care professional.