There isn’t one phase of recovery that’s guaranteed to be easy. Each period on the timeline of recovery, from early recovery to years down the line, has unique triggers. While the threat of relapse decreases as time passes, it’s still important to address the challenges that each phase brings.
The period following formal inpatient or outpatient treatment brings a new set of obstacles. In this guide, we’ll share the top tips for how to remain sober directly following treatment. Once you’ve graduated from formal care, here are the best ways to ensure life-long recovery.
How to maintain sobriety
Sobriety is a continual learning process and requires a recommitment every day. This holds true during every phase of recovery, especially late-stage sobriety (after someone has detoxed and made some distance between themselves and a substance use habit). It can be tempting to feel as if completion of formal treatment means there’s no more effort needed, but the hard reality is that relapse is an ever-present threat, even if urges are easier to manage at this point.
Remember to do maintenance work
Technically, your formal treatment may continue during this period. Many individuals find it helpful to continue outpatient treatment (in the form of substance use therapy) for numerous years, even if on a less-frequent basis than in the first months of recovery. Others proceed with a 12-step program that meets weekly. Regardless of the way you continue to work on yourself, it’s important to continue to partake in programs or services that support sobriety.
Do yourself a favor and continue to do maintenance work before a bad day spirals and you’re left forgetting what you learned in treatment.
Identify your reasons to stay sober
The journey of recovery is an intensely personal process, and each individual will have particular motives for staying the course. At each stage in recovery, you can identify your own desires. Identifying explicit reasons to stay sober and writing them down is an intentional practice that can keep you moving forward.
Here are some meaningful and motivating reasons to stay sober.
- You’ll feel physically better and capable of doing things you couldn’t do in the midst of an addiction
- You’ll be able to think clearly and make decisions that aren’t governed by addiction
- You’ll improve relationships by showing your commitment to recovery
- You’ll heal past personal wounds and trauma
- You’ll feel in control of your emotions again
- You’ll be able to do things you couldn’t when you were tied down by drugs (like travel)
- You’ll have the financial means to achieve your goals now that you’re not spending money on substances
- You’ll feel less depressed, anxious, paranoid and stressed
- You’ll be able to put your mental energy toward things you are passionate about
- You’ll feel better about who you are as a person
- You’ll be able to plan for your future
- You’ll grow in passion for hobbies and activities that you couldn’t do before
- You’ll find new social circles that care about you as an individual
There are so many reasons to stay sober, and recalling your top priorities can be an inspiration on days when urges feel overpowering. Try keeping a list of your top personal reasons to stay sober handy (on your phone or written in your wallet). You can consult the list when you need a dose of motivation.
Engage a support system
One of the best ways to avoid slipping back into self-destructive habits is to surround yourself with a community that doesn’t invite occasions to use drugs or alcohol. The more you alter your social circles to reflect your goal of recovery, the more your lifestyle will change to make avoiding triggers easier.
Yes, triggers will always be present in some sense, but when you socialize with a sober community you’ll find that triggers are much easier to avoid without compromising on fun and fellowship.
Build healthy sober habits
Abstinence from drugs and alcohol will only stick if you have sober habits to support it. Solid nutrition, regular movement, a healthy mindset and appropriate rest are all key to sustaining your body so it doesn’t go looking elsewhere to meet its needs. Throughout late-stage recovery, it’s important to care for your body, and you should never feel like it’s too much of an indulgence to focus on self-care.
Consider these healthy sober habits as an investment in yourself. The better your body feels, the easier it will be to prevent triggers from coming up in the first place.
Return to professional treatment for substance use
If you’ve noticed that you’ve regressed in sobriety, either through a relapse, a sudden spike in triggering feelings or a lifestyle or behavioral change that jeopardizes your process in recovery, your best option is to return to formal treatment. Returning to treatment doesn’t always mean that you’ll start from square one, but a continuum of treatment means you can easily transition from one level of care to the next.
You may find that increasing the frequency of your therapy sessions to weekly instead of monthly is all you need to get back on track. Or, you may find the need to complete detox again after a return to addiction. Regardless of the type of care that will get you back on track, there’s no shame in recommitting to learning skills that are essential to a truly free life.
The best tip for how to remain sober is to start implementing these tips today. The longer you wait, the stronger the pull of addiction. Building up social support and sober habits is the key to battling substance use triggers for today and for years to come.
If you’re eager to progress in your sobriety and you’re thinking professional substance use treatment is the route to take, reach out to Real Recovery. With partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs, psychiatry services and medication-assisted treatment, you’re guaranteed to find the aid you’re looking for.
Call today to schedule an appointment.