These tips for staying sober can help you prevent a relapse. Learn how from the professionals at Lakehouse Recovery Center.
Getting sober is a huge accomplishment. Right now, you may be thinking about your future and how you will remain sober. You’ve learned early recovery and relapse prevention skills, and you know the importance of building a healthy support group. You agree that it is essential to avoid the people, places, and things that could lead to a relapse.
It is much easier to know what to do than to implement your new sober skills in the real world, especially if you are returning to an old environment where many triggers await. Rather than give you “rehab responses” or the same old fluff about how to stay sober, we want to keep it accurate. Below are nine tips for staying sober, which aren’t easy, but they work if you follow through.
1. Don’t Go Back Home
Living in an environment where everything and everyone reminds you of being drunk or high should scare you. Suppose you feel confident in your sobriety and have few insecurities about relapsing. In that case, you are not ready to return to an environment where you once spent most of your time using drugs or alcohol.
It is okay to stay in treatment if that helps you stay sober. It’s okay to never return to your old using environment. You can visit sober friends and family any time you want.
Be honest with yourself so you can make the right decision to continue treatment or return home.
2. Heal Your Brain
Short-term and long-term use of drugs and alcohol traumatizes the brain. It’s because of the brain you became addicted in the first place—for example, substances entering the brain signal a release of dopamine neurotransmitters.
Not only is dopamine released, but it is released at much higher levels than what the brain can naturally produce. On top of that, the higher levels of dopamine flood the reward center in your brain, making you feel more relaxed, calm, and euphoric than you have ever felt before.
Your brain will do what it can to continue this feeling, even creating withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit.
Depending on the substances you misused, it can take a year or longer for your brain to heal completely. You can help the healing process, though, by participating in recovery treatment and activities, practicing mindfulness, improving diet and nutrition, listening to and reading upbeat music and materials, and surrounding yourself with healthy, sober people. Also, make getting quality sleep every night a priority. During sleep is when the brain and body heal the most.
3. Tips For Staying Sober: Treat Your Mental Health
Mental health issues go hand in hand with substance use disorders, and they are co-occurring disorders that affect many people in recovery. It is crucial to treat both mental and drug or alcohol disorders at the same time to stay sober.
Your mental health condition may cause symptoms that lead to relapse by only getting treatment for a substance use disorder. Also, if you only treat a mental health issue, continued use of substances can cause psychological symptoms to worsen.
4. Treat Your Physical Health
Physical pain may be one reason you started misusing substances. Like many, a doctor prescribes opioids for pain but does little to help you after your tolerance builds and you develop a dependency on the drug.
The physical pain of any kind can trigger a relapse, and there are many sober ways to alleviate the pain that won’t jeopardize your sobriety. Meditation, physical therapy, TENS, massage, acupuncture, and biofeedback are examples of non-medication treatments that work. Your counselor and peers will likely have even more suggestions on staying sober by coping with pain in recovery.
5. Step Down in Treatment
Recovery cannot be accomplished alone, especially when so many people in your life are waiting for you to relapse. Some want to help you relapse, and participating in treatment gives you knowledge and support that makes you more powerful.
Early in recovery, higher intensity treatment is needed. Every day and night, you need to learn sober skills, receive encouragement from peers, work through personal issues with therapists, and take medication, if required, to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Detox and inpatient rehab is recommended to begin treatment.
As you progress and withdrawal symptoms ease, it’s essential to stay in treatment but at a less restrictive program. Partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs offer flexible scheduling while giving you ten or more hours of individual and group therapies needed to stay sober.
Research shows the longer you stay in treatment, the higher the chances you have of staying sober. Even as you step down from intensive outpatient services, it’s crucial to stay in some form of treatment, like weekly individual counseling or 12 Step meetings, either virtual or in person.
6. Encourage Therapy for Family and Friends
No one develops a substance use disorder all by themselves. There are friends and family members who are enablers and some who also misuse drugs or alcohol. Some family members were the reason you started misusing substances to cope with abusive behaviors, codependency, grief and loss, and the many other elements that cause dysfunction.
Your loved ones are affected by your addiction, and as you recover, they must also. Family therapy is offered at all levels of treatment, from inpatient to outpatient to support groups. In treatment, family members learn about the disease of addiction, how to set healthy boundaries, and how to help you stay sober.
7. Find a Purpose
You have talents and skills that have been hiding behind drugs and alcohol, and it’s time to explore those talents and put them to good use. Volunteering in the community, furthering your education, and trying new hobbies are a few examples of how you can learn more about yourself. You may find a spiritual connection that helps you discover you are worthy, valuable, and a necessary member of society.
There are many more tips for staying sober. To learn more, reach out virtually or by phone. We can help you find the information that will help you in recovery.