man being tempted in a bar

Staying Sober Without the Program: Is It Possible?


Sober Recovery Expert Author

man being tempted in a bar

Sobriety is a lifelong journey that often begins with professional help. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer priceless tools for recovery and a huge network of support, but it’s not the only way to stay sober. In fact, contrary to many members’ beliefs, there are ways to live a normal and healthy sober lifestyle without including meetings into your daily routine.

Benefits of the Program

When I first got into the program, I was completely against it. It took me months before I realized that it would actually benefit my life if I stayed in it, even just for a little while. Though I did relapse several times after leaving the program, I can proudly say that I am sober today, no longer attending meetings or having a sponsor.

AA and other programs are crucial for some people's recovery, but it isn't necessarily the solution for everyone. For those outside of the program, here are other ways to keep your sobriety on track.

Does this mean I don’t think the program is worth trying? Absolutely not. I highly recommend going to meetings, speaking with fellow members and following the rules of a sponsor. The only reason I am able to stay sober today is because I still utilize tools from the program in my own way. That is because the program not only offers its members a way to sobriety but also tools to a healthier and better lifestyle overall.

Doing It on Your Own

If you’ve decided that the program isn’t for you, one way to stay on the road to recovery on your own is implementing a daily routine.

A sample day can look something like this:

  • Wake up in the morning and read from a book of daily reflections. This can help you start your day positively. Even the big book can offer great tips that help you live a better life.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast in order to keep your energy levels high. Starting your day on a full stomach is always a good thing!

  • Be sure to pack a lunch and avoid eating fast foods. Processed foods, refined sugar or foods high in sodium have been linked to depression, so pack healthy fruits and vegetables.

  • Keep a positive mindset at work. Remember, everyone has to work. Think of the enjoyable activities that you will be spending your money on, besides bills. Everybody has bills!

  • Consider the things you are going to do when you get out of work or in your spare time on the weekends. Plan ahead; if you have a family, put together a family outing to the zoo or park. If you don’t have a family, do a little shopping or spend some time doing yard work. Staying busy can prevent your mind from thinking of things that you shouldn’t be doing.

  • Make sure to get the suggested amount of sleep. This rejuvenates your brain and body and puts your internal clock on a normal schedule rather than requiring a reset every morning.

Things to Remember

Facing the possibility of failure is inevitable. I have seen people in the program, thirty-five years sober, leave, relapse and come back the next day. A relapse can happen to anyone. Regardless of which method you choose to use, whether it is the program or your own personal methods, it is important to remember that a relapse discriminates against no one. The possibility of a relapse may seem higher when you don’t have a sponsor, but there are ways to prevent a relapse if you feel it may be coming.

  • Attend online meetings. This can give you a place to meet with fellow addicts in recovery or talk to someone to get things off of your chest.

  • Call old friends who are in the program. Chances are you’re still friends with them on Facebook or Twitter and if they’re still sober, they would be more than willing to lend an ear.

  • Read through the big book. There are many tools you can find in the text that can help you solve an issue you may be dealing with.

Getting and staying sober can be a difficult task for everyone. Those who have been in the program for years face just as much real life situations as those who aren’t in the program. What is important is that you find what works for you and keeps you sober, even if it is the road less traveled.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-772-8219 to speak to a treatment specialist.

Stay Connected
Subscribe to our newsletter to get addiction help, recovery inspiration and community tips delivered to your inbox.
No Thanks. I'm not Interested