To get sober is one thing. It’s tough, it takes hard work and perseverance.
Staying sober is another thing entirely. It’s also tough, and it also takes mountains of hard work and constant perseverance. But, beyond that is longevity. Sobriety is a journey that never ends. One must always be on their “A” game, always on guard. Relapse is a very real thing, and it can happen to anyone.
But, with the right tools and coping skills, temptation and relapse can be completely avoided. Now, there are the usual coping skills plastered everywhere, many of them are very useful for some. Things like journaling/writing, practicing meditation/prayer/centering yourself, getting in touch with your feelings – these can all be very useful to some and should not be discounted at all in their usefulness. But there are a few coping skills that seem to be useful to almost everyone. Some you’ve heard, as they’ve stood the test of time. Some are new as the sober life becomes a mainstream thing, especially for health conscious people who are not addicts, but have decided to live a sober life to avoid the health pitfalls of alcohol and other substances.
Take a look at them below and consider how they might fit into your own sober journey.
This one goes to the root of temptation and relapse. For many addicts, relapse happens when the mind is free to wander in moments of weakness. Exercise, especially cardio, forces a wandering brain to focus. Cardio can including jogging/running, biking, rowing, etc. These exercises put stress on the body (good stress) and force the body’s systems to focus on movement, goals, obstacles, breathing, and more. Add in some motivating music and beautiful surroundings, and you’ve got the perfect recipe to occupy a wandering mind, bust through a moment of weakness, and exhaust a body’s system. Strength is found and showcased, cravings disappear, vitality rushes through your veins, and another day of sobriety is in the books.
This is very akin to exercise’s reasoning, but has some very beneficial added elements.
Cardio and strength hits again in this skill, but there is also the fact that you will have people depending on you.
Organized sports like rugby, baseball, football, soccer, basketball, etc. all feature that team element. Within a team, each member is held to account. One weak member of a team equals a weak team. So, each team works very hard to ensure that each member has the support that they need to be successful.
This holding to account and system of support and camaraderie is an incredibly valuable asset to have in the sobriety journey.
For addicts who are not able to participate in sports, there are other options. Strong bonds akin to those formed on sports teams can also be formed within organized events like book clubs, gaming clubs, card nights, etc.
Temptation can also be found within these sorts of groups, so do your research, ask others on their own sobriety journeys, and choose wisely.
The art of caring for yourself can be an elusive one. When stress, anxiety, and depression hit, self care can suffer severely. This leads to a weakening of the body and mind and means that you are more susceptible to thoughts that may cause relapse.
Allowing hunger, anger, loneliness, or tiredness to creep in (sometimes called HALT symptoms) can be dangerous. Ensuring that your needs are met and that you are setting yourself up for success at your core is vital. These are the basic tenets of self care, they are your foundation. A strong foundation ensures a strong, and sober, you.
Avoid High Risk
This one seems obvious, but it is valuable to always keep this in mind. High risk situations can easily lead to relapse.
It is becoming increasingly easy to avoid old temptations, especially as the sober life becomes more mainstream. Things like sober bars prove that fact. The old way of thinking that the only way to have a good time is to include substances has disappeared.
But, temptation still exists. Be sure of yourself. If someone invites you to a place that you know will be a trigger for your addiction, say something like “That sounds like a lot of fun, but unfortunately I will not be able to make it.” You don’t need to offer a reason, you do not owe anyone that. Be kind and firm in your turn down and move on with the conversation.
Dovetailing off of the above is communication. Your friends and family will not want to be part of a relapse, ever. Communicating with them about your addiction (when you are ready) and your sobriety journey is key to your success. You will find that they will socialize with your needs in mind.
The same goes for work and all other aspects of your life.
Life is an adventure. It is definitely meant to be lived! And there are a multitude of ways that you can roar through life with every bit of passion and drive that you hope for, and still maintain sobriety. A large toolkit is key. Keep what works for you when temptation hits in your mind so that you won’t need to search for a way to stay sober.
It’s possible. It works. A sober life is a good life! And it’s ready for you.