Learn / Staying Committed to Sobriety: Practical Tips for Success

Staying Committed to Sobriety: Practical Tips for Success

Kayla Gill
 December 18th, 2023|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Rajnandini Rathod

Key Points

  • Sobriety is an ongoing journey of self-improvement and healthier living.
  • There are proven ways to make the process smoother.
  • These include clear goals, professional guidance, strong support, and coping skills.

Sobriety is an ongoing commitment. You’ll face successes, setbacks, growth, and joy along your journey. They’re all part of the process and work to serve the greater goal of a healthier, happier you.

Addiction touches many parts of life, but you can claim them back. And people do recover. Sobriety gives your body the chance to heal. Your relationships can come out stronger, your self-esteem better, and you may find a new sense of purpose. 

Sobriety requires embracing a new way of life, and change comes with challenges. However, you can make the journey smoother. These 9 tips show you how to stay committed to sobriety. 

Set Clear Sobriety Goals

Clear sobriety goals let you envision where you want to be and track the progress you’ve made. They offer a reminder of your journey’s purpose and promote recovery in many ways: 

  • They enhance motivation. 
  • You increase your focus. 
  • You can track your achievements and celebrate the wins.

Several rehab programs and therapists recommend setting SMART recovery goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. These goals are focused and broken down into small, manageable steps. When you reach each milestone, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, boosting self-confidence and overall well-being.1  

These are examples of goals to support sobriety:

  • Stay sober for 60 days.
  • Join support group meetings once a month. 
  • Go on a 30-minute walk 3 times a week for one month. 

You’ll set sobriety goals with your therapist or care team during treatment. As you transition back to daily life, you’ll revisit and readjust them to align with your evolving needs. 

Seek Professional Support

Professional care helps you commit to sobriety after treatment. It’s especially effective when combined with tailored therapies. Many treatment types are available: 

  • Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) combines mindfulness practices and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). One study found that people who received MBRP for alcohol addiction had a lower relapse rate2 than those who didn’t receive treatment. 
  • Virtual therapy is equally effective as in-person treatment.

Whether or not you’re in a formal rehab program, you can turn to therapists, counselors, addiction specialists, and sober coaches for addiction recovery. They all offer a safe space for you to do the vulnerable work of healing. Some people use their titles interchangeably, but they have slightly different roles from each other: 

  • Therapists have training on connecting with clients. Many therapy positions require a master’s degree.
  • Counselors draw from their experiences to connect with clients. 
  • A Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS) might specialize in a certain field of addiction, like adolescent addiction.
  • Sober coaches offer non-clinical assistance to support long-term recovery from substance use disorders.3

Experts make sobriety more achievable by offering valuable advice, holding you accountable to your goals, and helping you feel less isolated.

Build a Support Network

Recovery may feel isolating, but you don’t have to do it alone. Support networks offer a group of people who share your experience. Peers in support groups motivate each other’s sobriety,4 exchange stories, and provide emotional support. They also decrease the risk of relapse. 

You can find support groups for different needs:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • SMART Recovery

A strong community can be life-changing. Studies show that people who feel supported by their network are more motivated to stay in recovery.5

Identify and Manage Triggers

A trigger is a stimulus that causes a craving response. In some cases, triggers lead to addiction relapse. Relapse is normal in recovery. However, you can plan around it by understanding your triggers. The beauty of the healing journey is that you get to know yourself better, including your triggers.

Some triggers are common and can affect anyone: 

Triggers are a part of life. In recovery, you’ll learn to manage them, rather than eliminate them. Tools for managing triggers may include the phone number of a support person, a comfort object, a calming mantra, and other healthy coping strategies. 

Develop Healthy Coping Strategies

Many people turn to substances to cope with difficult or stressful life situations. Stress isn’t always bad—avoiding it altogether is unrealistic. You can learn healthy ways to manage stress. 

Healthy coping strategies may include a mix of movement, creative outlets, and other hobbies. You may find that you enjoy certain group activities, like rock climbing or yoga. Other healthy habits include art workshops, gardening, cooking, reading, and more. 

Craving management is another coping skill that supports sobriety. It teaches you to control impulses and work through urges so that you don’t fall back into harmful patterns.

A toolbox of healthy coping mechanisms can improve your quality of life. 

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques reduce cravings7 and improve overall well-being. Mindfulness means being aware of your thoughts, bodily sensations, feelings, and environment in the moment. It involves noticing the here and now with gentle acceptance. 

There are several mindfulness techniques taught in both group settings and one-on-one: 

  • Meditation is a tool to stay focused on the present moment. You have many different ways to meditate, whether through a class or guided podcast. 
  • Yoga is an ancient practice that focuses on breath and movement. Several studies show that yoga reduces substance cravings.8 
  • Mindfulness walks involve focusing on sensations as you walk slowly. You may notice the ground beneath your feet, the way the breeze feels, and more. 

Mindfulness techniques help you stay sober by giving you healthy ways to cope and manage your thoughts and emotions. Some practices, like yoga, also provide community.

Celebrate Sobriety Milestones

In recovery, it’s important to celebrate the big and small wins. Acknowledging your achievements is a way to honor all your efforts and progress. Plus, positive reinforcement motivates people9 to commit to a substance-free life.

For some, planning milestone celebrations can be just as exciting as the experience. These milestone celebration ideas show you just how rewarding it can be:

  • Connect with nature. Planning a trip to your favorite scenic spot, like the beach or a hiking trail.
  • Treat yourself to a spa day with massages, facials, and pure relaxation.
  • Join a new exercise or crafts class you’ve always wanted to try. 
  • Explore a new restaurant or cook a special meal at home.
  • Share your accomplishments with loved ones who have supported you.
  • Update your milestone journal and send a kind message to your future self. 

Celebrating successes boosts motivation. Each time you celebrate, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter.10 This creates a positive association with milestones and drives you to want to achieve more. 

Practice Self-Compassion

We don’t always show ourselves the compassion that we deserve. This may have led to substance use in the first place. Learning to love yourself again is a significant part of the healing journey. For many, it’s one of the most profound parts of what happens when you get sober.  

Sobriety itself is an act of self-compassion. You can supplement it with other ways to show yourself that you care:

  • Talk to yourself with kindness like you would with a friend.
  • Acknowledge your thoughts without judgment.
  • Treat yourself to activities that spark joy, like hikes, art classes, or relaxing quiet time.

It’s easy to show self-kindness when everything’s going great. True self-love shines in how we treat ourselves in tough times. Setbacks are frustrating, but they serve as opportunities for growth. They don’t define your progress, and how you respond to them matters. Be patient with yourself during this time. 

Avoid Overconfidence

You should feel proud of how far you’ve come. At the same time, it’s important to recognize potential concerns of overconfidence. Overconfidence, or feeling invulnerable, can lead to complacency. And you may not be ready to loosen the rules around your sobriety just yet. 

Avoid overconfidence by developing a balanced perspective. With practice, you can strengthen your ability to maintain that balance: 

  • Reflect on your journey. For some, keeping a sobriety journal helps. Others may prefer to talk about their recovery. 
  • Stay connected. Your support network can help you identify biases and stay grounded.
  • Adjust your goals. Make sure they’re aligned with your current situation. 
  • Lean on professional help when you need it. 

Find Meaning and Purpose

When drug addiction takes over, it’s easy to lose sight of life’s meaning. Sobriety is a chance to rediscover your sense of purpose. 

Finding purpose is a personal journey. Certain things can guide the process. Kendall Bronk,11 a researcher on purpose at Claremont Graduate University Kelly, suggests 7 ways to find purpose12 in UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine

  1. Point out what matters to you.
  2. Reflect on your values to clarify your purpose.
  3. Identify your strengths.
  4. Give back. Many people in recovery find purpose through volunteering. 
  5. Imagine what your best self looks like. 
  6. Cultivate awe and gratitude.
  7. Look to people you admire. 

Whether you rediscover old passions or try something new, take time to explore what truly matters to you. Finding meaning can make your experiences that much richer and your life in recovery that much more joyful.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Stay Committed to Sobriety

What are some tips for staying committed to sobriety?

Here are some tips for staying committed to sobriety:

Set clear sobriety goals.
Seek professional addiction treatment.
Build a support network.
Identify and manage triggers.
Develop healthy coping strategies.
Practice mindfulness.
Celebrate sobriety milestones.
Practice self-compassion.
Avoid overconfidence.

How can I find a support network for sobriety?

There are many ways to find a support network for sobriety. Here are a few ideas:

Attend support group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or SMART Recovery.
Join an online sobriety community.
Talk to your therapist or counselor about finding community.
Connect with other people in recovery. Support groups can be a good place to start.

What are some common triggers for relapse?

Common triggers for relapse include stress; difficult emotions such as anger or sadness; people, places, or things associated with past drug or alcohol use; certain social situations, such as parties or bars; exposure to drugs or alcohol; and boredom. Being aware of your triggers allows you to develop a plan for dealing with them healthily. 

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