It is not easy to stay sober. It takes a lot of work and determination to get through the day without getting tempted or feeling like you have failed yourself. That’s why people dealing with this problem should consider enrolling in an alcohol rehab programme.
But if you know what you are up against, it helps. Here are nine tips for staying sober for anyone who has an addiction problem.
1. Be Careful with Bars and Parties
Do not attend functions or events that will likely serve alcohol. Otherwise, limit your attendance to designated sober periods and then leave early and go home.
How about bars? You can go to these places if you want. However, it is doubtful that anybody with a desire to remain alcohol-free will find it productive or enjoyable unless they commit to stay sober the moment they walk in the door (which would be extremely difficult).
If possible, avoid going into the bar altogether. If this isn’t possible, don’t have more than one drink – pay for it as soon as you order – and leave immediately after finishing.
You can also use alternatives to bars and parties. Consider listening to music, playing chess, reading books on recovery, attending 12-step meetings, joining a gym, exercising, hiking, shopping (not the kind of shopping that is done while drinking); volunteering at an AIDS hospice, helping a friend move, doing community service work, going to movies, or going out to dinner with friends or family other than drinkers.
2. Don’t Have a Drinking Buddy
Many alcoholics would never even think about having a drink if it weren’t for the company of a friend who is also drinking. If possible, avoid making friends with drinkers, and if your present friends drink too much, then distance yourself from them as much as you can.
In other words, if your current “friends” will only socialize with you when you’re drunk, then you should consider finding new friends altogether. These people will exert undue pressure on you to drink – because they need a drinking partner. They may be enablers who will try to convince you that you can handle your liquor or offer you a drink to prove that they’re not alcoholics.
3. Plan for Temptation
Develop a strategy in advance to avoid temptations and obstacles without weakening your resolve. Make arrangements ahead of time with trusted friends who have similar goals.
If possible, plan activities during times when it is most difficult for you to resist the urge to drink, such as when you are extremely lonely, bored, discouraged, tired, or depressed. In other words: when life’s problems become too much for you to bear alone.
For example, agree on meeting at a park bench after work, go to an exercise class together, call each other at pre-determined intervals during the day, attend a 12-step meeting together at least once a week, etc.
4. Don’t Quit Trying
Make continued efforts to remain sober regardless of how difficult it seems to be in the beginning. Remember, people who succeed stay sober one day at a time.
Many eventually find that when they get through their initial struggles with sobriety, they can relax and find more comfort in life without alcohol than they could ever have imagined.
If you slip up, don’t give up! One drink is too many, and 1,000 drinks are not enough (to quote an old Irish saying). It takes only one drink to start the process all over again. The only way to keep from taking that first drink is to have a plan in place ahead. Don’t ever allow yourself to become discouraged.
5. Keep a Journal
Keep an alcohol-free journal, so you can read about your experiences in recovery and remind yourself why it is essential for you not to drink. Writing things down is often therapeutic in itself, so take advantage of this opportunity to reflect on future goals.
Prepare yourself for temptations by writing down specific ideas about how you’ll handle peer-pressure situations when your resolve starts to weaken. Writing things down is also helpful in that it provides opportunities to look back on past successes and failures, which will help improve future efforts.
It’s easy to forget the bad times once they’re behind us, but if we stop and remember them they can tell us lots of valuable information about what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it.
6. Read Literature on Addiction
Read everything you can get your hands on about living the recovering life. If you fail to educate yourself now, you will suffer far more in the future than you might have had to if you’d simply made an effort beforehand.
The subjects found in this type of literature are quite different from those found in most other types of reading material. Many describe their personal experiences, so reading them can be very helpful even if they weren’t written by people who had any formal education or training as writers.
Self-help books are also available that will help enhance your self-esteem and teach you how to live a more fulfilled, contented life. Never assume that you know all there is to know about recovery.
Don’t be afraid of “intellectualizing” your drinking problem or analyzing various approaches to solving it. You are the best judge of what kind of information will benefit you most, so trust your instincts when choosing books, articles, or pamphlets with which to educate yourself on how to stay sober.