Many people in the early phases of recovery ask “Does Staying Sober Get Easier Over Time?” Often, they find themselves feeling cast adrift after leaving a rehab facility. Back in familiar surroundings, they wonder if they can avoid temptation. It can seem very daunting to be on their own again, struggling to remain sober in the face of many challenges.
Fortunately, there is hope. Many people who struggled with drug or alcohol addiction can find joy and purpose in a new, sober life. While former addicts worry that they will face intense cravings and a constant battle to avoid relapse, the reality is that remaining sober does get easier with time.
Rehab is a crucial first step
For those struggling with addiction, a qualified rehab facility is an excellent first step on the road to sobriety. It will provide not just medically supervised detox, but also additional ongoing support. Remember, the first 90 days after detox are crucial. This is when relapse rates are highest. Treatment centers that offer a 90-day program may therefore be more effective than those with shorter stays. Good rehab facilities will also offer other benefits, which include:
● The lack of external triggers such as the liquor store on the way to work.
● Being in a structured environment.
● A group setting where the members are all in the same boat, creating a sense of camaraderie.
● Having a professional support system available.
A well-designed rehab program will not just treat its clients while they are present, it will also provide tools they can take with them when they leave. These include mental, emotional, social, and even spiritual mechanisms that the person can call on as needed. Whether the framework used is a 12-step program or other methods, the most important factor is that the client needs to consistently continue working the process. The more distance a person puts between his or her addictive past and the present, the easier it will become. Some programs provide a way for clients to gently transition to independent sober living via half-way houses, regular meetings with licensed therapists, or ongoing group sessions that continue to provide out-patient support.
Making an ongoing commitment to sober living
Each person must take an honest assessment of themselves. For alcoholics, it’s important to stay away from situations where alcohol is served for a period of time. For all former addicts, it may be necessary to avoid the people and places that are associated with the substance that was abused. While there are no hard and fast rules, often it’s advised that the newly sober person avoid these situations for at least a year.
The most important thing is to make a fresh commitment each and every day, and to practice self-awareness. For example, after being sober for several years, a cruise with hard-partying friends might be fine, but you must be strong enough to cancel if you feel yourself struggling with depression or other issues that you know will trigger a relapse. As you continue to practice sobriety, being aware and making good decisions will become automatic and instinctive.
Finding additional resources
It’s important to ask for the help you need to fight the battle against addiction. Going to a qualified rehab facility was a good first step. However, even those who have been sober for years still often attend AA or NA meetings, other types of recovery programs, or church groups. The advantage of these types of communal sessions is that they allow those struggling with addiction to interact with peers who can honestly share similar experiences.
Other therapeutic tools that can help those in recovery include:
● EMDR therapy, which is particularly helpful for those dealing with trauma.
● Yoga, meditation and other activities that help with mindfulness.
● Involvement in one’s local community, whether that means donating time to a shelter, volunteering at the library, or being part of a church, mosque or temple.
It’s important to remember that those who focus on the staying sober in the moment can stay sober for the day, the week and a lifetime. While trying to stay sober forever seems impossible, taking it moment by moment makes the goal of sobriety achievable. To get started on your path to a sober, happy, fulfilled life, call (833) 922-2653. Our counselors are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.