Sometimes people ask me for advice on how to get, and stay, sober. This is what I usually tell them:
Ask for help, even if that means seeking professional guidance, and find your community.
Sometimes I think people are disappointed in that advice. Sometimes I think they’re expecting that I have some secret formula, or some trick they haven’t tried yet. But I don’t. And I give that advice because it works. I white-knuckled my way through my first 3 months of sobriety and IT WAS HARD. I’ve been in and out of therapy, both alcohol-related and otherwise, for over a decade. I thought I could keep my head down and power through.
Everything got a lot easier when I found my sober community and began putting myself out there. For me, accountability is key. So I took away the stigma I was perpetuating and I told everyone. I ripped the Band-Aid off and exposed my wounds to the world. I thought the air might help them heal. And to my surprise, it kind of worked. But every sober person is different and it might take a few tries to figure out what works for you. What I did might not be the best bet for you, especially if you are extremely physically addicted. Withdrawal can be dangerous, so you should always speak to a doctor if you are concerned.
Here’s a few more things you can do to help your sobriety:
✨ Try new things and find a new hobby
It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with rock climbing. But I didn’t get really into it until I got sober. I needed an outlet to throw myself into, and rock climbing filled that niche. Do as many new things as you possibly can. You will find that some of the things you thought you would hate you actually love. Anything that encourages your body to move is good too. Running, yoga, stretches, horseback riding, parkour, whatever it is, get yourself exercising.
✨ Get really active in the online sober community (Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit have good support groups)
I didn’t realize what a huge online community of sober people there is until about 3 months into recovery. And once I did, I was kicking myself for not finding them sooner! Figure out which platform you like, which fits your vibe and lifestyle, and get involved. If you feel more comfortable staying anonymous, 100% do that. I didn’t show my face until my 100th day of sobriety because that helped me ease into it and gave me the time to get used to the idea of “owning” my alcoholism.
✨ Do a spring cleaning of the toxic relationships in your life
If you have issues with alcohol (or drugs, or whatever is causing you grief), I can guarantee you there are people in your life who are not good for you. Enablers, or assholes, it doesn’t matter. You will very quickly find out who your real friends are once you get sober. Keep those people, and let the others drift away. It doesn’t make sense to get your life in order and keep shitty relationships that cause you pain. Cut the cord for good and start fresh. People will show you who they really are; listen to them.
✨ Use mindfulness techniques
This is another good reason to talk to a therapist; they often have many techniques for mindfulness. There are plenty of workbooks you can find online and in stores that can help with this as well. My favorite mindfulness skills include taking stock of exactly what I’m feeling, and listing the things around me that I can smell, hear, taste, see, and touch.
✨ For the love of god, DO NOT go to bars or places that might trigger you!!
I may not have to say this to some people, but others definitely need to hear it. Until you’re confident and secure in your sobriety, you really, really, really need to avoid places that are going to trigger you. That might mean bars, clubs, concert venues, sport arenas, and festivals. Whatever event it is, it’s not worth breaking your sobriety for. It’s masochistic and counter-productive to “test” yourself by going to these places too early in recovery. Think of it this way: if you were diagnosed with Celiac disease and suddenly couldn’t have ANY bread anymore, it would be kind of fucked up and mean to yourself to then immediately go on a Baguette Tasting Tour, even if you promise yourself that you won’t eat any because it would make you sick. Your social life might dip a little, yes, but that’s okay. Take that time to come up with alcohol-free activities to do with your friends and practice self-care. There is no reason to put yourself through drama, temptation, and discomfort.
I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on what keeps them sober! DM me or leave your answers in the comments below.