Staying Sober: 12 Best Things You Can Do Today

Addiction is a nasty demon that consumes and destroys far too many lives every day. So, staying sober is a significant achievement for people in recovery. It requires dedication, discernment, and a combination of strategies to maintain a healthy, substance-free lifestyle. Here are a dozen things that prove helpful in maintaining a sober lifestyle.

1. Build a Healthy Support Network

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One of the most critical elements of staying sober is having a strong support network. Connect with family, friends, or support groups who understand your journey and can provide encouragement and guidance during challenging times. It is imperative that you sever ties with any and everyone that you use substances with.

This may include family, pending the dynamic. For example, if you and your cousins are best friends who spent the last six months getting high together, separation is your best bet on staying clean, especially if they remain in active addiction.

If you have toxic relationships with family members who criticize you or even downplay your recovery, it is perfectly OK and recommended not to entertain those relationships. If people can’t refrain from drinking and using around you, even when you think that you will be fine, stop. Give yourself time to build a sober life before being certain you can be around people using.

2. Build a Sober Lifestyle

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Embracing a lifestyle of sobriety by participating in activities that don’t involve substance use sometimes isn’t as easy as it sounds. From singing karaoke to watching a football game, it seems that society pairs drinking alcohol with pretty much any activity.

There may be other unexpected triggers that you need to abandon to stand solid in your recovery. Back in the late 90s, raves were all the hype, and I found myself dancing the night away in ecstasy.

Ultimately, I had to separate from techno dance and trance music because the songs had a memory of prior trips. I am happy to report that the Vengaboys don’t trigger me today. So, some passions come back around and will be enjoyed again in time.

Finding hobbies that keep you focused on healthy and constructive pursuits is necessary for spending quality sober time. What do you find joy in?

3. Create and Follow a Structured Routine

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A commonality in people with substance abuse disorders is a lack of sound routine. It is crucial that you define and maintain a daily routine as the foundation of staying sober. Chaos and disorder are not your friends.

Coming from a home that never followed a structured routine, it can be challenging to stick to one. It’s important that you don’t give up. If you falter one day, don’t completely abandon it and fall into old habits derailing your hard work and confidence.

What should you add to your daily routine? That looks a little different to everybody. However, I’d argue scheduling a wake-up time, bedtime, exercise, healthy meal times, prayer, and self-care windows are pertinent to everyone.

4. Learn to Manage Cravings

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Cravings are a natural part of recovery and can completely catch you off guard. Developing healthy coping mechanisms to manage these urges is critical for successful sobriety. Strategies include distraction techniques, deep breathing, meditation, or talking to a trusted friend or sponsor when cravings strike.

5. Avoid Triggers

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Do you know what triggers you? Identifying and avoiding the people, places, and things that trigger you is going to help you stay sober. During the initial stages, you may be surprised by what triggers you. For example, the elastic sports headbands were something I used to tie off. So I threw all of them away.

Is there a road or town that triggers you? Avoid it! Stay away from old hangouts, bars, parking lots, motels, casinos, and all the other locations that you frequented in active addiction.

6. Set Realistic Goals

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Goal setting is something that you need to immediately begin doing if it’s not already a practice in your everyday life. Write them down. Setting achievable goals and milestones is crucial for your recovery. Break down your journey into manageable steps to maintain a sense of progress and accomplishment. You may establish daily, weekly, monthly, annual, and/or long-term goals.

7. Figure Out Finances

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Substance abuse imposes tremendous financial costs, and yet, somehow, you once maintained a habit. It’s time to become financially responsible, starting with a budget. After establishing your expenses and spending budget, you can see what you have left to save and invest.

During the initial stages of rebuilding your life, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do the latter. But make saving and investing goals to ensure that you work your way back to both of those imperative financial responsibilities in life.

8. Seek Professional Help

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Recovery often requires professional assistance for identifying and healing from your underlying conditions. Getting clean is one thing; staying sober is another.

If you do not heal from past traumas and abuses, you are setting yourself up for relapse. Instead of overcoming and working through your hardships, you may find yourself running back to avoidance with whatever numbs your pain.

Reach out to addiction specialists, therapists, or counselors who can provide personalized guidance and therapies to address the root causes of addiction for a greater chance of success.

9. Attend Support Meetings

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If the 12-step recovery model is what you subscribe to, then regularly attending support group recovery meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can provide you with a sense of community and accountability. These meetings offer a safe space to share experiences and challenges with others in recovery.

Sadly, a familiar scene around places that house many of these meetings is grim. I remember when I first attended NA; there were connections in the parking lot — waiting and banking — on you to fail. Resisting that temptation proves impossible for some, and it’s infuriating to know this obstacle exists where people seek life and living. Somebody told me to go to AA to avoid that scenario.

However, I chose not to attend 12-step meetings in my recovery. So I can’t speak from experience about that advice. But please be mindful and prepared.

10. Plan For Relapse Prevention

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It’s crucial to have a relapse prevention plan in place. Identify potential triggers and develop strategies to cope with stressors and temptations. Be ready to seek help if you feel you’re at risk of relapse.

Staying sober is a lifelong journey that requires effort, support, and determination. By building a strong support network, seeking professional help, attending support meetings, establishing healthy routines, and avoiding triggers, you can navigate the challenges of recovery with greater success.

11. Celebrate Recovery Milestones

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You can and should celebrate an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade, and more of clean time. If you subscribe to the 12-step method of recovery, you can obtain chips at their meetings that celebrate your sober time.

Initially, I celebrated my first month, 90 days, six months, and a year. However, now I celebrate annually, usually with seafood and cheesecake.

12. Pray

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First and foremost, go to the source. Prayer is your biggest ally in life. So naturally, that translates as true for your recovery. Project what you want your reality to be through prayer.

For example: “Lord, I am grateful to be sober today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life by your grace alone. I’m humbled. That strength that has always been inside me is shining through as you, and I’m blessed to give you the glory in my recovery story. Let my lessons lead others to the truth in his name — Christ. Jesus. Amen.”

Remember that prayer is your personal relationship with the Lord. Maybe your prayer might sound more like this: “God, thank you for keeping me clean today. I can’t do this without you. Please get me through another twenty-four hours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

It may even sound like this: “Heavenly father. You’ve healed this brokenness inside of me and removed the curse of addiction from my bloodlines, Lord. Hallelujah. My God is so good. The cycle ends in me, through you. Thank you, Jesus, for setting me free in sobriety. I’m sober by your grace alone. Amen.”

The point is — pray, pray, pray, and wait on the Lord.

Setting realistic goals, learning to manage cravings, and embracing a sober lifestyle are also crucial steps on your path to lasting sobriety. Additionally, staying informed about addiction and having a relapse prevention plan are essential components of maintaining your recovery and building a healthier, substance-free life.

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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and Jesus.