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The path to sobriety is a long and difficult road that will likely have many twists and turns. Life itself can sometimes be exhausting and relentless; staying sober through it may seem nearly impossible. 

When people leave a rehabilitation center or sober living residence, they often feel anxious to take on the world without their safe space. After spending so much time in a substance-free environment with support available 24/7, adjusting back to “normal” life can be intimidating. However, there are proven ways for you to improve your mental health and increase your chances of staying sober. 

What Is Sobriety?

Before we can fully understand how to stay sober, we first must understand what sobriety is. At its core, sobriety simply refers to a state of being without the influence of substances. When most people refer to sobriety, they’re referring to this simple definition of never using substances. However, sobriety is a much more complicated topic than this definition gives it credit for. 

Sobriety isn’t a state of being that you achieve once and suddenly you’re sober. There’s no magical moment where the stars align and you never feel the urge to use again. Sobriety is a state of being that you have to actively work toward every single day. 

How to Achieve Long-Term Sobriety

In an ideal world, once someone has gone through the treatment process and is making active attempts to remain sober, they would simply never use substances again. However, the recovery process is incredibly delicate, and this isn’t always the case. 

In fact, a 2006 study found that nearly 80% of people who achieved long-term sobriety had one or more relapses along the way. Unfortunately, relapses can happen and are part of the growing process. The important thing for someone who relapses to remember is that they can still achieve long-term sobriety. The goal of recovery is to build skills and habits that will help you stay sober. Even if you relapse, it’s important to continue these practices, reach out for support, and assess ways that a future relapse can be prevented

#1 Identify Triggers

One of the most important things you can do to maintain sobriety is to identify your triggers. If you’ve never relapsed, this can be a theoretical exercise in which you identify what could potentially trigger you. If you have relapsed, it’s crucial to evaluate what triggered that relapse and if and how those triggers can be avoided in the future. 

As previously stated, the world can be hard to readjust to after coming out of a sober living residence, which strives to be trigger-free. Identifying personal triggers and coming up with strategies to either deal with them or avoid them can be crucial to readjusting. 

People often categorize triggers in two ways: external triggers and internal triggers. 

External Triggers

External triggers are places, people, or situations that exist outside of you that may cause you to relapse. Some examples of external triggers are:

  • Specific friends or family members whom you associate with using substances
  • People who are currently using substances
  • Places you used to use substances
  • Times of day you used to use substances

Internal Triggers

Internal triggers are emotions, thoughts, or feelings that could potentially trigger a relapse. Some examples of internal triggers are:

  • Stress
  • Loneliness or isolation
  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor self-care

#2 Continue Ongoing Therapy

Although extensive therapy is typically done during the initial treatment process, continuing therapy with a trusted professional can play a crucial role in achieving long-term recovery. In the treatment process, therapists help their clients build coping strategies to prevent relapse. However, once in the “real world,” unexpected situations and triggers can surface, which can leave you feeling unequipped to deal with. Therapists can help you work through these situations to build new strategies, making you feel more at home in your sobriety.

Additionally, maintaining a positive mental state is crucial to maintaining sobriety. If you feel depressed or experience co-occurring mental health conditions, the likelihood that you’ll be able to healthily manage triggering experiences or thoughts of relapse decreases. Therapy can help you maintain a state of positive mental health. The better you feel about yourself, the better you’ll feel about your sobriety.

#3 Practice Self-Care

While what self-care looks like can vary from person to person, there are two aspects of self-care that are specifically helpful for maintaining sobriety: being social and being healthy. 

Being Social

While the first weeks, months, and years of sobriety can be extremely taxing, it’s important that you avoid isolating yourself. Community plays a prominent role in the healing process. Hanging out with friends or family who uplift your recovery and support you as an individual can have positive effects on your mental health and remind you that you are loved and supported. 

Similarly, attending weekly meetings for sobriety or meeting with people on the same path can do wonders for you. In addition to exchanging tips on what’s working for each of you, you can bond over your shared experience and take solace in knowing that you’re not on this journey alone. 

Being Healthy

Just as a healthy mental state is important to recovery, so is a healthy physical state. Maintaining your health will ensure that you have optimal energy and clarity to navigate your sobriety. Here are some things you can do to stay healthy:

  • Sleep seven to nine hours uninterrupted every night
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat three balanced meals a day
  • Meditate
  • Find hobbies

The path to sobriety is not easy. However, there are things you can do to help you in your journey toward long-term sobriety. Identifying triggers, finding support systems, attending therapy and group meetings, and practicing self-care can all help lessen the burden of recovery. Sobriety is an ongoing process, and setbacks may happen, but the important thing is that you keep pushing forward.

The path to sobriety is never-ending, as permanent sobriety isn’t magically obtained. The process can be difficult and intimidating; however, there are ways forward. At West Coast Recovery Centers, our professionals understand the healing process and are ready to help you on your journey. With a supportive environment, holistic treatment methods, and a strong sense of community, WCRC is a great place to begin your recovery. Our professionals will help you determine your goals, create steps to meet them, and work with you every step of the way. Plus, you’ll learn new healthy coping mechanisms that will extend with you on your journey forward. If you or someone you know is currently struggling, call us today at (760) 492-6509.