Making the decision to get clean and sober is the easy part. Actually staying clean and sober – that’s a different story altogether.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned in recovery. Hopefully some of these lessons can help you as well:
1. For your first few months sober, your only goal each day is to make it through without a drink.
2. Don’t overestimate your control over your addiction. Everyone does at some point.
3. Practice complete abstinence. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can moderate your alcohol intake. It won’t work out in the long run.
4. Seek out in-patient treatment if you can afford it
5. Take physical care of yourself. Exercise regularly and eat well.
6. Cut out toxic relationships from your life. This includes friendships and romance.
7. Build new healthy relationships with positive people.
8. Reconnect with friends and loved ones who may have distanced themselves.
9. Don’t mistake an enthusiasm to change with actual action. The former is nice to have, but the latter is will produce actual change.
10. Reach out to others in recovery.
11. You’re responsible for your own sobriety. You can take advice and seek out support, but ultimately you need to be responsible for your own recovery.
12. Do what works for you, never believe anyone who tells you that their way is the only way.
13. At the same time, make sure you’re not lying to yourself. If what you’re doing doesn’t work, then you have to take massive action to change.
14. Forgive others. Don’t harbor resentment or bitterness.
15. Move beyond self-pity. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t accomplish anything. Accept the cards that you were dealt, and move on. Tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of your life.
16. Heighten your self-awareness through meditation and self-reflection.
17. Keep busy. Especially in your first few months of sobriety. Staying sober is hard enough, its even harder if you don’t know how to live life without alcohol.
18. Learn to have fun without alcohol. Trust me, its possible.
19. Talk to your parents. Whether you’re a teenager or an adult, its important to communicate with your family – especially your parents.
20. Develop a support network. Whether this involves aftercare programs like AA or NA, build an extended family who understand what you’re going through.
21. Take long walks. This can be a good substitute or compliment to full-out meditation.
22. Take up an artistic hobby. Sculpting, playing an instrument, painting etc.
23. Take up an outdoor hobby. Running, biking, surfing, even flying a kite. Whatever gets you outside on a beautiful summer afternoon.
24. Take up a social hobby. Go take a cooking class or a dance class, something that will get you interacting with mainstream society.
25. Take up old hobbies. Rekindle your love for hobbies that may have fallen by the wayside during your addiction.
26. Be grateful. Everyday, write down 5 things you’re grateful for that day. It can be anything, from your loving family, to the air you’re breathing.
27. Join an online recovery forum. It’ll not only be helpful for staying sober – you might actually enjoy the discussions.
28. Go back to school. Use education to achieve your dreams.
29. Improve your job skills. If you need to take part-time courses or learn a new trade, do it.
30. Go to the library. It’s a free way to stimulate your mind, reflect, keep busy, and grow. It can be fun too.
31. Spend more time with your family. You can never really do this enough.
32. Avoid your old hangouts. That’s just asking for trouble.
33. Make a bucket list. Then go out and do it.
34. Travel somewhere that’s far removed from the norm. If you don’t have the finances to go to a distant country, go camping in the wilderness.
35. Form productive habits. You’ll have a much easier time staying busy and sober if you have routines that keep you moving forward.
36. Leave your comfort zone. At the same time, don’t use habits as a way of avoiding new experiences and challenges.
37. Quit smoking. You’ll thank yourself later.
38. Create the life you want. Don’t settle for the life you have.
39. Stop making excuses. This applies to everything you do.
40. Stop blaming others. Again, this applies to everything you do.
41. Be humble. Always be willing to learn, and don’t assume you “know the way”.
42. Reconnect with your religious roots. It’s not for everyone, but if religion gives you peace of mind, then don’t let it slip from you life.
43. Give back to the community. Do volunteer work, or get involved in a recovery group.
44. Avoid vices. Just because you’ve kicked your alcohol or drug addiction, doesn’t mean that addiction won’t still creep up on you. Don’t replace your alcohol addiction with gambling, pills etc.
45. Don’t get complacent. Always keep moving forward in your personal growth.
46. Discover your true passion. The only way to do this is to try new things.
47. If you know your passion, pursue it. You only get one chance at life. Don’t waste it doing things you don’t want to do.
48. Take pride in responsibility. Chasing a dream doesn’t mean you get to neglect your responsibilities. Learn to find balance.
49. Don’t live in fear. Accept that their are some things you control, and other things you don’t. Don’t let the things you can’t control, control YOU.
50. If you do relapse, don’t let it slip back into full-out abuse. Accept that you’re human and that you’ll slip up. Then take massive action to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Do you have any of your own tips for staying sober that aren’t listed here? Please feel free to share them in the comments.