Recovering Alcoholic Behaviors That Lead To Long Term Sobriety

by pgh

If you spend a lot of time around recovering alcoholics, you notice certain patterns of behavior that lead to long term success. On the other hand, you also notice behaviors that usually lead to relapse.

Alcoholic Behaviors That Lead To Failure

Jumping Into New Relationships In Early Recovery

One thing I’ve noticed is that recovering alcoholics who jump into new relationships tend to relapse. In fact, it seems like a pretty high percentage of alcoholics who relapse within the first 1-2 years do so shortly after getting into a new relationship. Why is this the case?

It’s hard to say for sure. My theory is that alcoholics in early recovery often use the “high” of a new relationship as a substitute for their addiction to alcohol, when they should be seeking personal growth instead. New relationships produce an easy fix of excitement and a rush of endorphins, but when that wears off as it inevitably does, the alcoholic tends to relapse.

Of course, that’s just a theory that may or may not be true. But know that getting into a relationship while you’re still in the fragile stages of early recovery is often a sign of impending failure.

Playing The Victim

Part of successful recovery is about taking responsibility for your own life.  In AA, you’re taught to surrender to a higher power because you’re powerless over alcohol.

I think this is an important step for some, because it forces them to place their trust in a system that has helped many alcoholics in the past. But for long term recovery, I think everyone has to ultimately take responsibility for their own sobriety. This means not playing the victim in life, and going out and striving for personal growth, one step at a time. People who continue to see themselves as victims never make an effort to move forward in life, and this lack of growth usually leads to relapse.


People who continue to deceive and manipulate in recovery don’t usually stay clean and sober for long. Long term recovery means more than detox and abstinence, it means addressing the personal defects that allowed alcoholism to control one’s life in the first place. If a person continues to lie and cheat, the guilt, shame and pain of broken relationships that follow inevitably leads to attempts to self-medicate with alcohol.

Alcoholic Behaviors That Lead To Success

Let’s talk about the behaviors that lead to success. Obviously there are too many positive behaviors to list here, but I’ll go over some of the ones I think are the most important:

Cutting Out Toxic Relationships

This might mean spending less time with the friends you used to drink with, or it might mean cutting out a friend or breaking up with a significant other who brings continual drama into your life. It might mean spending less time with a social circle that has no interest in advancing their lives and seeking out relationships with other people interested in pursuing personal growth.

For long term recovery, you need to embrace positive change, and that’s difficult to do if you’re surrounded by friends with self-destructive tendencies, co-dependent relationships, addicts, and friends who otherwise cause you unhappiness. Alcoholics who maintain strong ties with negative influences almost always relapse, so beware.

Dedication To Physical Fitness & Health

Exercise and healthy eating is a powerful tool for personal growth. Working towards a strong, healthy body has more benefits than simple physical fitness; it gives you a sense of purpose and focus. During a hard run or workout, it can also function as a form of meditation, letting you clear your mind of distractions and negativity.

Physical fitness and healthy eating also just makes you feel better – your mind is clear, you have more energy, and you feel “clean”. Furthermore, it can improve your appearance and give you a boost of confidence, which can do wonders for your emotional well-being. You definitely don’t haveto exercise or eat healthy to maintain sobriety, but your chances of success are certainly better if you strengthen your body instead of filling it with junk.

Seeking Holistic Growth

Perhaps more important than any of the individual behaviors listed above, is the attitude of looking for personal improvement in our daily lives. The recovering alcoholics who find the greatest success are the ones who commit to taking action everyday to improve their lives, no matter how small.

By filling your life with positivity and eliminating destructive behavior, you give yourself a new foundation where you can build a meaningful, happy life without alcohol.

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