I’m a recovered alcoholic with almost 18 years clean & sober and due to this topics complexities and distinctly different personalities and varieties of alcoholics – this is a difficult question to answer. More so to do it within the allocated word count! Whilst there are certain common denominators amongst alcoholics who attain long term, contented sobriety this article focus not focus on clinical aspects but just share some practical advice and experience.
I think the issue of different individuals all asking “How do I stay sober” has as many answers as people asking. The ability for an alcoholic to get sober and then to stay sober through thick and thin, whatever life throws at them, requires serious commitment. Don’t mistake this as being highly motivated from the beginning though. Most alcoholics enter rehab through some form of external crisis and this has doing to do with successful outcomes, the important thing is just to get some help.
I once asked an old timer around AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) how to stay sober and he said that if I didn’t take the first drink I wouldn’t get drunk. It sounds obvious but there is only one way to stay sober and that is not to pick up that first drink!
What all alcoholics need is the help to begin doing that and help is widely available. It’s important to understand that stopping drinking is relatively easy. Yes, alcohol detoxification can be uncomfortable and even dangerous but it’s easily managed with the right professional treatment. So getting through detox and getting sober is fairly easy. Staying stopped is entirely another matter. You see alcoholism is more a thinking than a drinking problem and unless the alcoholic is open to assistance in changing the way he or she approaches life, sobriety reaches a point of being unbearable and taking a drink seems the most attractive option again.
Whilst a spell in an alcohol rehab centre is not the only way to start on the road to sobriety it is a great start. In order to stop drinking effectively it is key that any alcoholic undergoes a detoxification process. The best way to detox is with professional medical supervision, something offered by all quality alcoholic rehab’s facilities. Further treatment in a Primary Care rehab centre will increase the individuals understanding of alcoholism as a disease and of how to adopt strategies to live with the disease whilst adapting to a new way of living in sobriety. Most residential rehab facilities will have introduced the alcoholic to 12 step fellowship meetings such as AA, being familiar with these fellowships and programmes provide the alcoholic with their number one resource in their journey discovering a new way of life.
Here are a few basic tips that experience staying sober have proved to be useful suggestions on the road to alcoholism recovery.
Get to a 12 Step Meeting as often as you can. In early recovery it is hard to do too many meetings, the fellowship suggestion of 90 meetings in 90 days was not concocted by accident, and experience shows it helps.
In fact if you can get through the first 90 days sober you’ve passed a useful milestone and relapse after 90 days is less frequent.
Make plans. Try not to be around drinking people and places and try to avoid the things that used to accompany your drinking.
Old drinking friends, familiar haunts and things that may trigger a craving to drink are best avoided so if you have to be around events such as weddings, parties or work functions; have a plan.
Make a time to leave, make sure you have your own transport and keep a fellow alcoholic’s, in recovery of course, number on your phone, if things get tough make that call!
No one understands the alcoholic problem like another alcoholic.
Do things-Structure your time! Being sober is the start of a new way of life, the opportunity to do the things drinking got in the way of.
Take up a new hobby or revive an old interest. Whether it is just for fun or the route to something new like training or education there is a lot of productive time to be enjoyed sober.
Take care of yourself. Regular gym time, a massage or just a walk in the park can do your body and soul good.
Many alcoholics get a real sense of satisfaction from just taking a little care of themselves or even their appearance. Living sober is about a new way of life and taking care of yourself is a good place to start.
There is a well used acronym in sober living, HALT, it means hungry, angry, lonely and tired and these are four states that the alcoholic in recovery needs to look out for.
Don’t put off eating, or eating properly, good body sugar levels and nutrition are important. Anger is never a happy state, be aware of what makes you angry, and find better ways to deal with it.
Don’t get lonely, attend meetings, get phone numbers and use them reach out for the help that is all around you. Get the rest your mind and body needs, a tired mind is a confused one.
Above all, have fun.
There are no guarantees in a sober life. Stuff still happens, but adopting these few simple suggestions may help an alcoholic stay sober and even enjoy being sober.