Getting sober is great, but staying that way is even better. It takes hard work to get clean, but everyone can do so if they find the right help. With the right information and support, you can prioritize sobriety and maintain a rewarding life in recovery.
Prioritize Sobriety by Being Sober
By not drinking, you make sobriety a priority. In How to Stay Sober, James Christopher explains that “We can stay sober even through the ‘meaningless’ segments simply by prioritizing sobriety, no matter what. In doing and experiencing all things sober—no matter what our reactions to life’s challenges are—we become more flexible. Accepting—not necessarily liking—life’s uncertainties allows us to grow as persons. We learn. Answers and solutions develop for us…Coping skills are developed by ‘doing it sober,’ as we accumulate one sober experience after another”. In short, practicing sobriety yields a better and stronger sobriety.
As you spend time in recovery, you will learn more about making your recovery a priority, therefore your health, happiness, relationships, career and more will also become more and more important. For that reason, sobriety becomes easier with time. The American Bar Association (ABA) reveals that “75% [of recovering addicts] experience a relapse during their first year of recovery. For those who are sober five years, the rate drops to 7%. People who successfully complete a formal treatment program such as a 28-day inpatient program or an intensive outpatient program have significantly higher recovery rates than those who do not”. In that regard, finding and maintaining recovery is all about learning to lead a sober life, which you can do best by simply living. Recovery requires not perfection, but learning and practicing what it takes for you to prioritize sobriety.
Prioritize Sobriety by Staying on Track During Difficult Times
Staying sober seems easy when everything is going right, but life rarely unrolls exactly as planned. In response, you must learn how to stay on track during difficult times to make sobriety a priority. Before you fully learn to prioritize your sobriety, you may experience a relapse. The ABA explains that “Relapse is not uncommon in early recovery because individuals are learning what changes they must make to live a sober life. The relapse can be a learning experience in how to develop better coping skills and get through difficult experiences without the use of alcohol or drugs.” In other words, you make your sobriety a priority by paying attention to the difficult times that challenge your recovery. You can learn what events, people, places or emotions stress your decision to avoid drugs or alcohol, and you then learn how to cope with these stressors with help from professionals, peers and loved ones.
Substance Abuse Recovery in College explains that, for recovering individuals, “it is important not only to understand which aspects of their daily lives present the greatest threats to abstinence and recovery, but [also] to examine the defenses they have developed to deal with those threats”. No one cannot avoid problems completely, so recovering addicts can prioritize sobriety by preparing to get through difficult times without relapsing. Prioritizing recovery ultimately means fewer bad days, a stronger recovery and better mental and physical health; it means learning that no challenges are insurmountable if you prioritize sobriety.
Make Your Sobriety Your Priority by Not Getting Complacent During Good Times
Difficult times can challenge to sobriety, but so can enjoyable times. The ABA explains that “Complacency can set in when life is going well. Individuals in recovery sometimes believe that they no longer need to focus on their recovery efforts; they are convinced they will never drink or use drugs again. When drinking is the furthest thing from someone’s mind, then not drinking is no longer a conscious thought, either…Those who experience success on so many levels of their lives forget that their sobriety is the reason for the success that has come in recovery.” When sobriety is no longer a priority, either because life is going well or because it is not, relapse can occur, so watch out for both extremes.
In Alcoholism/Drug Addiction, Wax Flowers shares that “complacency is what causes relapse more than any other factor that exists”. In short, complacent people may believe their recoveries are infallible or that their drug use was not that bad to begin with. In other words, they no longer prioritize the actions, thoughts and practices that allow for continued recovery. They may stop engaging the practices that encourage sobriety, such as going to meetings. As Flowers explains, “When one stops going to meetings they forget the devastation in their lives that was done by alcohol. The meetings remind them of just how powerless they are over alcohol…While sitting in the meeting, one hears and sees what happens to people when they relapse…If a person stops going to meetings then they won’t see the results of what happens when a person relapses and they pick up the drink again.”
Complacent individuals may also rekindle or form harmful relationships. Flowers further states that, “If the person hangs around sober people that makes the person want to be and get sober. If the person hangs around people who drink and use drugs,” then the opposite is true. Complacent individuals may take recovery for granted or perhaps even believe they are “recovered,” fully in control of their drug use regardless of nearby people or situations. However, when sobriety is no longer at the forefront of someone’s mind, relapse can happen. In response, make recovery a priority at all times to continue leading the sober life you deserve.