Now That You’re Sober
Okay! You stopped drinking and made it past day 1, week 1, the first 30 days, or possibly even two or three months. Now what?
You’re sober, now what?
Ok! You stopped drinking and made it past day 1, week 1, the first 30 days, or possibly even a few months. Hopefully, you didn’t do it alone, and the initial shock, awe, joy, excitement, horror, stress, or desperation of life without alcohol has faded a bit. Perhaps the craving to drink has faded into the background; maybe it’s gone completely. You might not feel like you need to attend as many meetings, if you attended any to begin with.
If you’re not asking yourself, “Now, what?” already, chances are you will be soon.
The answer is simple, but of course, not easy. You continue doing some of what got you here, with more intention and purpose. Plus, add things as you have more recovery. First and foremost, understand that your sobriety must remain a priority even as the urge to drink fades or disappears. Second, get used to the idea that you will need to stretch yourself and get uncomfortable. Probably not as jarring as initially getting sober, but you’ll need to keep stepping out of your comfort zone.
Here are a few specific tips:
Attend sober support meetings
Meetings need to remain important, or, if you’re not going to meetings - some kind of regular, formal support structure is smart to put in place, to keep you connected to your purpose and to other sober folks.
Take time to search out different options and find a few that feel like a good fit (it may take some trial and error!). In the 12-step program, people are urged to find a “homegroup/meeting.” This is a meeting where you share regularly and allow yourself to be seen and known. This keeps you connected in a meaningful way to a community. As you build deeper intimacy in safe/brave spaces with a community, you’ll develop your capacity to do the same with yourself. There are multiple sober and recovery communities out there. I personally belong to four different ones!
Don’t try and go it alone
If you haven’t already, build a sober support circle! This is part of the stretching, uncomfortable part. Reach out and ask to be in contact with people by taking their number, and then…use them. If talking on the phone is not your thing initially, become a part of a texting or WhatsApp thread. Never underestimate the power of a good morning text or funny, insightful memes. If some of your circle is local, you can meet up for coffee, walks, movies, meals, and other social events. Developing relationships and connections with other sober people gives you more support and mirrors as you continue to grow as a person living a life without alcohol. When you are struggling or have a win to celebrate, these people are there!. The key is getting connected enough to prove you are not alone when you feel as if you are.
Do the work
Finding more individual guidance in the form of a sponsor (if the 12 steps are part of your path), a mentor, a recovery coach, or a therapist can be tremendously helpful. This too involves getting out of your comfort zone.
Ask yourself, Is there someone in my support circle or in the meetings I attend that I’m drawn to because they seem to have great sobriety? Approach them about having coffee or meeting up to talk about establishing a relationship along those lines. If they aren’t available, they may have some ideas or suggestions for finding someone else. Maybe you belong to a program or community that offers mentorship or coaching. Investigate and inquire into that to see if it may be a good fit. You can also look for a therapist that specializes in, or has certification in, alcohol and substance abuse. The goal is to find someone who understands exactly what you’re experiencing and can help guide you through the issues, concerns, and oftentimes wreckage we’re faced with in sobriety.
Use your sobriety toolbox
It’s equally as important to develop tools, habits, and resources around self-care for the times when you are by yourself. This means a meditation and/or prayer practice, with the understanding that there are many different ways that are available to see what might fit for you. Start with small increments of time, like 5 or 10 minutes a day, at the same time of day or night, so you establish healthy, supportive habits. Learning to cultivate stillness and growing self-awareness can help you pause when you’re reacting to a stressful situation.
A companion to this is finding some kind of meaningful movement. Not necessarily “exercise” (unless that’s your thing), but walking, hiking, dancing, yoga, pilates, qigong/tai chi, biking, or something that helps you get into your body on a regular basis. Google and YouTube are incredible resources for videos if you can’t get to physical classes.
There are loads of books, blogs, and podcasts around recovery, sobriety, and personal growth to give you broader and deeper perspectives on sobriety and yourself. This can go hand-in-hand with a journaling practice! Writing your thoughts, feelings, and insights you’re gaining, on your own or from the books and podcasts, can help you retain what you’re learning about yourself and your sobriety.
This isn’t a complete list, but it’s a strong start.
A few other things: learn to be kind and compassionate with yourself; learn to let go of expectations of perfection; lean on your sense of humor and listen to music every day. Life never stops coming at you. Be aware of the pendulum of emotions and energies around being sober. You will have times of extreme diligence, times of flatness, times of complacency. That’s okay, bring yourself back to balance as soon as you’re aware. Remember, you can want to drink to celebrate a huge win as much as you want to escape a major catastrophe. That’s what we were used to. Our aim is to form new behavior patterns and neural pathways to make better choices … sober choices.
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