You’ve decided to become sober, and that is an amazing accomplishment. Making a conscious decision to change is a huge step—one that you should be proud of. Entering the sober life is different for everyone. For some, it may require sober living facilities or in-house treatments, while others may be able to simply make a few key lifestyle changes.
Regardless of what stage of sober living you’re currently in, it is important to remember that you’ll have to consciously try to establish new habits to maintain a sober life. Changing your way of life can seem overwhelming at first, but in time, these new sober habits will become routine.
The Power of Structure
Structure can prove to be extremely beneficial when it comes to making the changes needed to succeed in recovery. One way to begin to structure your day to day is using a schedule. A schedule can help you to prioritize what truly is important. A schedule can be an app on your phone, a calendar on your wall, or a planner you carry with you. A carefully planned-out schedule provides focus and allows you to prioritize your day and stay busy. When creating a schedule, consider your priorities. Any treatment or recovery commitments should get top priority.
Committing to treatment and a healthy recovery will pave the way to long term changes and sobering up for good. You can use your schedule to avoid relapses and become more self-sufficient. Your schedule will show you real gaps in time where you can see instances where old habits may try to creep in. You’ll also want to prioritize keeping or finding a job. The schedule can help keep any work or service commitments that you have.
Writing down all due dates for bills and other expenses can help keep your focus on financial security. You can add any recovery or community events or meetings that you’ve wanted to attend and make time to repair or create new relationships. A schedule will help you to focus your time and prioritize what you need. Your schedule doesn’t have to be all about busy work; be sure to make time for new hobbies, activities, and friends. If you’re someone who forgets to eat when you’re busy, consider scheduling meals too.
Removing the Toxic Influences
One important change is removing the toxic influences in your life. We often mirror what is around us and, if you try to stay in your circumstances and with people that were in your life before you were sober, you can easily get pulled back into that lifestyle. You’ll want to consider distancing yourself from certain regular substance users that you once associated with. When fresh in your sobriety, you won’t be able to help them, and you need to be able to focus on yourself. You’ll want to break ties with any abusive or co-dependent relationships.
If you have any visible reminders in your home of alcohol or drug use, remove them! Even removing certain music, smells, or activities that remind you of your past life can help you move forward.
Lifestyle Changes to Keep Sober
Sobriety is all about changing your old ways of living. Each person’s journey is unique. You need to form new habits to replace the old. These new habits offer a way for you to refocus your purpose and surround yourself with the support you need to stay sober. There are many different changes you can make, and some may have to make more than others.
What matters is that you continue to make conscious decisions to change your habits daily. Remember—sobriety isn’t a diet you can “cheat” on every now and again with no consequences. It requires actual lifestyle changes to help keep you safe, happy, and on track to a better future.
Some of these lifestyle changes include:
Focusing on Your Health and Wellness
This allows you to really prioritize your needs. Even if it is just making time to take a shower, do your hair, or brush your teeth, these things do matter. You must actively choose to put effort into feeling as well as possible. Other ways to focus on your health are by visiting a doctor regularly as well as attending meetings, groups, and other appointments that focus on your specific needs and sober goals. You’ll also want to be sure to seek treatment for problems like depression, chronic pain, and other instances that might turn you back towards drugs or alcohol.
This is another aspect of focusing on your health. What you put in your body can impact your overall mood and wellbeing. Junk food weighs you down, and while you deserve to treat yourself now and then, be sure to get plenty of fruits and veggies. Water is also important, and with a little lemon juice is great for continued detoxing. Meal prepping can be a great option for those who aren’t used to having three square meals a day. There are tons of great ideas and recipes you can find online, and knowing what your meals are going to be can help relieve any stress you may feel throughout the day.
While often easier said than done, forcing yourself to do any type of physical activity can help make you feel better. Exercise releases natural mood-boosting chemicals in your brain that leave you feeling accomplished. Exercise doesn’t have to be the same old boring routine either. The possibilities are endless, such as bicycling, sailing, gardening, dancing, yoga, martial arts, hiking, climbing, you name it! Schedule time to get up and move.
It is most likely that many of your previous hobbies revolved around your life before sobriety. This could include hanging out at bars, playing pool, shooting darts, hitting the club, etc. Essentially, your time and effort was once centered around substance abuse in one form or another. While sober living doesn’t mean all of these activities are out of the window, it does mean that you’ll want to consider your potential triggers and find hobbies outside of your old habits.
Some hobbies to consider include:
- Artistic and Creative – painting, scrapbooking, pottery, writing, knitting
- Sports – volleyball, basketball, softball, golf, bowling
- Travel – seeing historic landmarks, museums, cultural events, galleries
- Engaging – reading, enjoying music, learning an instrument, volunteering
Any hobby that keeps you occupied and develops new interests outside of your past addictions is a great hobby. It can be an individual hobby, or one where you can interact with others who appreciate the sober lifestyle. It may feel strange at first, but in time, it will be as natural as any hobby you’ve enjoyed in the past.
Keep Reading: Art for Recovery and Mental Health
A big aspect of sober living is both repairing old relationships and starting new sober ones. With a drug or alcohol dependency, you often lose friends and family who could no longer support your lifestyle at that time. Especially with family, it can be hard to see someone going through addiction.
A sober life gives you the opportunity to try and mend those relationships. It may take time, and some relationships may not be able to be repaired, but what matters is that you are finally in a place where you can try. New friendships are also key, especially those friends who understand what you are trying to accomplish. Support is critical, and surrounding yourself with truly supportive friends can make a world of difference. If you attend AA or NA meetings, it will be easy to meet others who share your same goals. Thanks to social media, there are many ways to connect and meet new people who are likeminded.
- Celebrate Milestones
Be proud of your accomplishments! Sober living can be tough, but just take it one day at a time (and, on bad days, even one hour or minute at a time). You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished, big or small. Decide on what milestones matter to you, big and small. Focus on these milestones to get you through the rough times, and reward yourself for doing so!
Staying Sober FAQs
Sometimes we forget that rehab created a safe place, a supporting environment and tools to help those in recovery stay sober. Once you leave an inpatient facility or graduate an outpatient program you may be faced with new challenges.
Here are some of the common questions we have heard over the years from individuals who are seeking out tips on forming better habits for a sober future.
Why is change important in recovery?
For those wondering why change is important in recovery, the reason is that, without change, the likelihood of you falling back into your old habits is practically unavoidable. Change can be scary, and it may even be uncomfortable at first, but ultimately, it will be a rewarding process that sets you up for a better chance at staying sober.
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
How do I sober up for good?
This is a loaded question, and everyone’s path may be different. With that being said, there are a few things to keep in mind. To stay sober, you have to be willing to make changes in your life that may seem difficult at first. By changing the way you interact with yourself and the world around you, you can increase the chance that you’ll be able to maintain a happy and healthy life.
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”
How do I make changes in recovery?
Changes can start small. No one expects the changes to take place over night. What matters most is that you focus on what is important for you and your journey. A schedule could help you prioritize both your personal time and your commitments. Deciding to pursue a new hobby or meet someone new over a cup of coffee can be the small changes you need to be able to face the bigger changes that will help keep you focused on sober living.
“A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”
– Mark Twain
How do I stay away from drugs?
Recognizing your triggers can help you to avoid drugs or alcohol that once tempted you in the past. You’ll want to learn to recognize the internal, and external triggers that could lead you down a path you don’t want to go. Surrounding yourself with positive influences and people can help, and having someone or something to turn to that understands the struggle can make a huge difference. The key is reaching out when you find yourself reconsidering your old habits. You don’t have to walk this journey alone.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sober Habits = Healthy Habits
If you’ve decided to commit to a sober life, you can do it! Change may feel uncomfortable at times, but it is worth it. Figure out everything that triggers your thoughts of drugs or alcohol and remove as many of those influences from your life as possible. Find new hobbies and friends who support your decision to be sober. Celebrate your milestones. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.