Getting sober is a challenge, but staying sober is equally, if not more, challenging. Many things can happen in your life that can cause you to revisit old, destructive habits. Many who struggle with drugs or alcohol find it difficult to stay sober over the holidays, while others may struggle after running into an old friend.
It’s important not to feel like a failure if you’re struggling to stay sober. Long-term success often comes with multiple setbacks. What’s important is that you continue making progress on your journey to sober living.
Here are a few tips for staying sober if you’re struggling to make it stick.
1. Care for Your Mental Health
Your mental health can have a huge impact on your addiction. It can cause you to continue using, even though you know you shouldn’t.
Either way, it’s quite common for mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction to go together. In 2014, over 20 million adults in the United States had a substance use disorder. Nearly eight million of those had both a substance abuse disorder and co-occurring mental illness.
If you don’t care for your mental health before, during, or after you get sober, you can expect your addiction to rear its ugly head again and again throughout your lifetime.
Caring for your mental health and a substance abuse disorder at the same time might mean going to a mental health treatment center for help with staying sober. It’s important to reach out to a health care professional and a substance abuse expert for help finding the type of mental health treatment that’s right for you.
2. Work on Your Relationships with Friends and Family
Family involvement is extremely important to substance abuse treatment. In some cases, family dynamics could contribute to your alcohol or drug problem. In other cases, family has the potential to help keep you from falling off the wagon, as long as they’re involved in your recovery journey.
It may require family therapy, but it’s important to make sure that those who are closest to you aren’t enabling you without knowing it. A therapy environment can also help you feel more comfortable raising issues that you might not normally want to mention. When you work through your issues, your family members have the potential to encourage you to stay clean and sober.
Friends matter too! However, if you find yourself a little low in the friend department, and you don’t have any family members you feel like you can trust, you should look for support groups to join. Not only can they help you learn more about how to prevent a relapse, you can find new friends who are going through the same things you are.
3. Focus on Healthy Relationships
Although family and friend relationships can be essential to your recovery, the quality of those relationships matters. It doesn’t matter if it’s an unsupportive parent or a drug dealer friend you’ve known for years; it’s important to step away from relationships that aren’t serving you.
Remove contacts from your phone, block them on social media, and avoid places where they hang out. If you feel like you owe them an explanation, tell them that you need some space, but you should never feel guilty for leaving relationships that don’t make you feel good or fail to support your recovery.
4. Learn How to Do Fun Things Alone
It’s a lot easier to relapse if your daily life is empty. Before your life may have revolved around drinking or using drugs, but part of staying sober is finding new ways to stay engaged in your life.
Having a job can help you take your mind off your addiction, and it can help keep you busy, but there are plenty of fun things you can do to keep your mind off drugs and alcohol! The key is learning how to do fun things alone so you aren’t dependent on others to keep yourself busy. A few ideas include:
- Visit a museum
- Find a place to gaze at the stars
- Teach yourself a new instrument
- Learn a new language
- Head out into nature
- Take a class
- Have a spa day
- Take up a hobby
- Read books
5. Find Ways to Cope if You Get Thrown off Your Schedule
Relapse prevention techniques always include creating a schedule. Routines are important during addiction recovery, as a chaotic or disorganized life can encourage you to turn to old habits. Get up at around the same time every day, go to bed around the same time every night, schedule calls with family members, and take a bath or shower to unwind every evening.
Not only is it important to develop a routine that works for you, it’s also important to find ways to cope if you get thrown off your schedule. Whether it’s the holidays or a loss of employment, reaching out to your family, attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, or increasing your meditation schedule can all help you cope if you find yourself off schedule.
6. Know What to Do If Your Old Triggers Reappear
Not only do you have to know what to do if you get thrown off your schedule, you should also be prepared to deal with old triggers, because they will come your way.
For example, if people at work invite you to go out to the grab a drink, it can help to have a pre-scripted response ready. You might call someone after you see a family member that makes you feel like a child again, or engage in a healthy activity or hobby if you run into someone from your days of drug abuse. In this way, staying sober can be supported by proper planning.
7. Consider a Dual Diagnosis Program
Just because you’ve completed an addiction treatment program and got sober once doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t need help. Staying sober sometimes means admitting that you still have a problem. Addiction centers, like Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital, can help when you’re dealing with both a substance abuse disorder and a co-occuring mental health disorder with dual diagnosis programming. Call us today at 1-225-300-8470, or fill out our online form, and we can help you learn how to get and stay sober.