If you’re in recovery, congratulations. You of all people know how difficult it was to get to this point, and now that you’ve made it, it’s time to focus on staying sober. There are many things you can do to help you stay sober after leaving a rehabilitation facility, but consistency is key. Find what works for you and stick to it!
1. Stay Away From Triggers and Old Habits
If you want to stay committed to recovering from your substance use disorder, it’s important that you recognize your triggers and old habits. There might be moments where you find yourself in a place that you recognize and have bad memories in. You might see someone or hear someone’s name that you associate with your substance use and it might send you into a spiral.
Learning what places, topics, and names trigger you can help you avoid them altogether to avoid the feelings that come with. Seeing people use, struggling financially, or having relationship issues can all be triggering while in recovery. It’s in your best bet to avoid being around those who use, and to find support from family and friends during turmoil.
You might recognize too that you have internal triggers that aren’t associated with places or things, but rather different thoughts and memories that you associate with your substance use. Often, stress can be a major trigger and there is a desire to use substances when under immense stress.
Avoiding old habits, like hanging out with certain groups and going to certain places that you used to go to, can be helpful in staying sober. If you take yourself out of the spaces that used to harm you, you are giving yourself a better shot at staying sober in recovery.
2. Build Healthy Relationships to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
If you haven’t already, cutting off toxic relationships from the life you lived while using is one way to maintain the healthy lifestyle you strive for after recovery. In the process of cutting off toxic people, you should be putting effort into building healthy relationships with those around you that want to see you happy and healthy. Focus on rebuilding relationships with family and friends that you strayed from during your substance use to ensure that you have a network of support behind you throughout your recovery.
When you build healthy relationships, you are proving that you want to stay sober. Your friends and family will see you trying your hardest to get better. You’ll feel better about your future knowing you have the support you’ll need. There are sober support groups for those who are struggling to find healthy relationships if those around you still use substances. Finding your people will help you to stay sober, because they will push you to maintain your sobriety goals.
3. Focus on Finances and Structure
Many people that are in recovery for substance use disorder have struggled or currently struggle with financial problems. Using substances means spending money, and it can be hard to recover from any debt you might be in, as well as learn ways to be financially independent and responsible.
There are many aftercare programs that you can go to to help you build structure within your life. At these programs the focus is often on maintaining finances, coping skills, and social interaction. If you feel that you need more structure, an aftercare program might be extremely beneficial, as it holds you accountable and teaches you ways to stay sober and be consistent about it.
Before you began your sober life, you might have felt that you had no schedule and no real responsibilities. If you develop a schedule for yourself, you can reach your goals a bit easier. Knowing what your day to day looks like can help to avoid those moments where you are left doing nothing but thinking about substance use. Keeping yourself busy and motivated helps immensely in the recovery process.
4. Heal From Past Mistakes
It’s hard to escape memories of you hurting those close to you due to your substance use, but not being able to learn from your mistakes will hold you back in your path to recovery. If you’re trying to stay sober, remember that no matter what you’ve done in the past, the only thing that you can control is your future.
You have the ability to use your past as a catalyst for change. Many people experience shame and embarrassment when they reflect on their past experiences surrounding substance use, but if you’re able to heal from your mistakes, then that shame and embarrassment will manifest as a drive to be better.
When you apologize and reconcile with you those that you’ve hurt in the past you’re showing them that you are changed. Holding yourself accountable is healing. People recognize the strength that it takes to say, “I’m sorry.” The more people you heal with, the more people that will be there to support you while you stay sober.
5. Celebrate Your Recovery Success
It’s no small feat to commit to living a sober lifestyle and be successful at it. You deserve to feel accomplished for changing your life around. This lifestyle change is not easy, so don’t believe that your perseverance is anything less than worth celebrating. Becoming sober can feel like you are losing out, but soon you will realize that it’s the opposite. You will feel better by staying sober.
Whether it be 24 hours, two weeks, or three years, your ability to stay strong throughout the process and commit to being sober is something that should be acknowledged. Milestones are important when it comes to recovery.
When you acknowledge these milestones, you are further motivating yourself to continue on in the process of recovery. For all the time that you spent beating yourself up about your substance use, you should be celebrating the moments in which you have taken back your life.
Success should not be taken lightly. Be proud of how far you have come, so that you are motivated to keep up the good work.
Everyone deals with recovery from substance use in their own way. Every person must figure out what works and what doesn’t work for them, where they can go if they need support, and how to maintain sobriety on their own. It’s important to remain consistent in whatever you choose because as soon as you waiver, so does your motivation to stay sober. Make sure to avoid stressors that can lead to relapsing, and don’t be ashamed to reach out to someone you love for help.
Taking back your life means also learning how to be a functional human in society, so taking control over your finances and creating a schedule can help to maintain sobriety. Being sober, you begin to feel more in control of your life. It’s not worth it to lose that control. Seek professional help if you believe that you need it. You know yourself best, so trust you gut, and live your life healthy and substance-free.
Drug Addiction (Substance Use Disorder) | Mayo Clinic
Recovery and Recovery Support | SAMHSA