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Staying Sober

Staying sober after addiction treatment

Recovery is a lifelong process, and staying substance-free can be challenging. Adjusting your mindset after addiction isn’t easy. You may find yourself in situations that make you want to use alcohol or drugs again. Here are some strategies for dealing with difficult situations and maintaining sobriety.

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Support teams

Friends and family members often seek guidance on how to help a loved one stay sober — these people can be a key part of supporting you in your recovery.

In recovery, it will be important to maintain relationships with people you can rely on for strength and encouragement. Joining local support or self-help groups also can make it easier to adjust to living sober. By avoiding situations that might make you consider using again, and staying away from people in your life who misuse drugs or alcohol, you can create a safe and healthy environment for your recovery.

A healthy lifestyle

Long-term lifestyle changes that focus on overall health and wellness have proven benefits.

  • Find an exercise option that works for you. Exercise can make you feel better, provide a distraction from cravings, and reduce stress — which can be a trigger for relapse.
  • Maintain a healthy diet to ensure your body is getting sufficient energy and nutrients.

Managing triggers

It is important to recognize situations that trigger cravings for drugs or alcohol, because they may lead to relapse. Keep a list of triggers, so you can avoid them and cope in healthy ways to maintain a sober lifestyle. The list may include:

  • Stress and life challenges
  • People who used drugs or alcohol with you in the past or who are using now
  • Homes, workplaces, bars, schools, neighborhoods, and other places where you have used drugs or alcohol
  • Situations or feelings that are like the ones you experienced when you used drugs or alcohol, such as certain times of day, emotions, social activities, smells, and sounds

Common challenges

Here are ways to overcome some of the challenges people with an addiction commonly face during or after their recovery:

Challenge: Mental health issues

What you can do: Schedule regular checkups with your primary care provider or therapist.

Challenge: Financial troubles

What you can do: Consult a financial adviser to help you create a personalized plan to manage your finances.

Challenge: Relationship problems

What you can do: Talk to a therapist about counseling options for you and a loved one. Depending on the treatment program, attend counseling together.

Challenge: Difficulties at work or school

What you can do: Connect with a career counselor or academic adviser to discuss your skills, options, and resources, and find a path that’s right for you.

If relapse occurs

As with many other health conditions, relapse is always possible. But it doesn’t mean you, or your treatment, have failed.

Map out what you would do if you have a relapse. The plan should list who to contact (a health care provider, sponsor, or family member) and the steps to get immediate help from an addiction treatment professional. Having a plan can motivate you to find support or get back into treatment quickly. The sooner people get into treatment after a relapse, the more likely they are to continue their recovery.

If you go through a relapse, know you are not alone. Support from family, friends, and your health care team can help you get back on track and stay sober.

Find support and resources near you.