How to Get Sober and Stay Sober…Even When Everyone Else is Drinking

The statistics show that staying sober is a lot harder than getting sober.

Making the decision to get sober can be a life-changing moment. But after this moment comes one of the toughest challenges that many of us will face.

Sticking with the resolve, and fighting tricks of the mind and self-doubt is no easy feat.

But, there is some good news. With the right strategies in place – you can make this process easier on your self. Combined with your inner strength, you can leverage some of these hacks to ensure that once you are sober, you have the game plan in place to stay sober.

Before we dive in – heads up for some more good news.

Many of these tips for staying sober are going to improve your life dramatically. So while the road ahead may be one of the toughest traveled, what lies at the end of it is pretty darn good.

Are you ready for these top strategies to implement on the road to quitting alcohol? Read on.

Create a Store of Inspirational Material on Getting Sober… to Help You Stay Sober

If you have been contemplating breaking free of alcohol addiction – chances are you have already been consuming materials like podcasts, articles and even books to prepare and motivate yourself to take the first step.

Once you have made up your mind to stop drinking, it is important that you don’t stop using these types of resources to keep you focussed and motivated. If you can, try to subscribe to things like newsletters, podcasts, and interviews, so that you can receive fresh content regularly.

Day 1 Tip: A great way to keep cravings at bay on the night of day 1, is to get comfortable and read or listen to content that is aligned with your decision to get sober. That way your focus will be zoned in all night on what you are set on achieving.

Keep a Handy Stash of Snacks and Treats

Many habitual drinkers experience what is known as a hypoglycemic trigger to consume alcohol. This basically means that when one’s blood sugar drops after you haven’t eaten for a while, unlike non-drinkers who would go in search of food, one instinctively turns to a drink to meet that drop in blood sugar.

Don’t let this simple mechanism sabotage your efforts.

Instead, prepare for day 1 by doing a store run and stocking up on a handy stash of treats and snacks that you enjoy. Divide these up so that you have some for at home, some for at work, and some for the car and occasions when you need to go out.

Eat Well

Besides loading up on a haul of snacks and treats, stock up on other pantry items as well. It is important that you eat well during the time that you are fighting cravings. Firstly, eating good food and enough of it will reduce hypoglycemic based urges to drink.

Secondly, eating healthy food will also support the body in its detox process. To ramp this up, you can also load up on detox friendly foods.

While you should eat well, be sure to not restrict yourself if you have some unhealthy cravings. You are already battling one craving. Why makes things harder and fight another?

If you find that you crave sweets and sugar in place of alcohol, this is quite normal, as your body is replacing the sugar it was used to from the alcohol, with whatever sweet things it is prompting you to eat.

Consuming excessive amounts of sugar is also not good for you, and if you can cut this down over time and eliminate sugar you will be able to rectify any hypoglycemia you may have developed during your alcohol addiction.

Gear up Your Gut

If you have been drinking heavily over a long period of time, there is a good chance that your gut bacteria are out of balance. Research has found that imbalances in the gut (such as Candida overgrowth) can lead to sugar cravings.

If one is or was a habitual drinker, sugar cravings can easily be translated by the brain into a driving need for a drink. Which is why having a healthy, balanced gut could be a good physical aid to staying sober.

To improve your gut health be sure to eat non-pasteurized fermented foods on a daily basis, or take a probiotic.

Be Prepared for Weird Bodily Reactions

Besides the mental reactions you are likely to feel after going cold turkey – there are a number of physical reactions that you might experience.

These can include:

  • sleeplessness
  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • mood swings
  • increased perspiration
  • lucid dreaming

These symptoms may not come all at once, but rather pop up at different stages. There are many stages of recovery, and knowing about them beforehand will allow you to more easily ride out the waves.

Grab a Calendar and Plan All the Things That You Have Always Wanted to Do

You know all those things that one dreams of and plans to one day do?

Start booking them.

When one stops drinking, suddenly a void opens up. The best thing to do is to fill this space with new things to do.

And what better things than the ones you have always dreamed about?

So, sit down, grab a calendar, and start planning and booking the things that you have always wanted and meant to do. Remember, they can be both big and small things. As long as they light you up.

Also, make sure that you BOOK them. If you can’t physically book them (such as buying tickets to something) schedule them out on your calendar and to-do list. This turns them from nebulous ‘Oh I want to do that thing sometime’ into something that is happening.

Giving yourself a scheduled list of things to look forward to is one of the best sober living tips – because it will shift your mental pathways from deprivation to enjoyment and pleasurable anticipation for your weeks.

Focus on Improving the Things That Drinking Was Damaging

If you are leveraging the will power to quit alcohol, then it is almost certain that you are doing so because you can see areas of your life that are being harmed by it.

A powerful way to keep yourself focussed on staying sober is to keep reminding yourself of these things that suffered. And to really get the momentum going, direct your energies at improving these areas that were affected.

Maybe it was a special relationship. Maybe it was your career. Or perhaps you have been seeing the signs of the long-term effects of alcohol on your body. Whatever it is, there may be a number of places you can start to begin to heal and restore these things to a place of thriving.

Get Active

There are many benefits to having a solid exercise routine when you are fighting alcohol addiction. Ever heard of that thing called runners high? It is the scientifically proven phenomenon of euphoric feelings that come from running.

And running is not the only source of this. Any form of exercise can produce feelings of upliftment.

The reason exercise can make you feel good is because, like alcohol, it stimulates the release of endorphins. These feel-good hormones are one of the reasons why people who used to suffer from alcohol addiction often end up creating a routine that includes a lot of exercises.

Be Gentle With Yourself

By making the decision to quit alcohol, you are doing something big.

Your body will be going through a lot. Your mind and emotions will be going through a lot. So be gentle with yourself.

Don’t judge yourself over silly stuff. Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t worry about what other people think. Just hold space for the worthy person that you are to go through this period.

Pick a Practice That Lowers Anxiety Levels

Alcohol and anxiety are linked in a number of ways. Many of us drink to loosen up ever-present feelings of anxiousness. At the same time, anxiety is a common component of hangovers. Quitting alcohol cold turkey can also bring on feelings of anxiety.

So either way, you are bound to be dealing with anxiety.

While one can pop pills to make it go away, this only creates another dependency.

Fortunately, there are a huge amount of practices that can effectively lower anxiety levels and serve as lifelong tools.

Here is a list of a few:

  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Yoga
  • Prayer
  • Exercise
  • Gratitude exercises

Besides these tried and tested tools, things like surfing, gardening, music, and sports can also act as effective anti-anxiety activities.

Avoid Certain Triggers

To make things easier on yourself, it is very important that you actively avoid potential triggers that might up the urge to have ‘just one’ drink.

Start by writing down and making a list of all your triggers that you are aware of. These could be certain environments, places, activities sounds or even people.

Once you have made your list, think about the likelihood of your being exposed to any of these and how to avoid them.

With time you might find that you may learn how to cope with triggers, but for a long time, it is best to keep you and your hard-fought sobriety safe from these situations.

Keep in mind that not all triggers are the stereotypical ones like bars and drinking buddies. For some people, cooking might be a trigger, because you generally used to drink while you cook.  If this is the case, it may be hard to avoid cooking forever. But at least in the beginning – be considerate of yourself – and order takeout.

Party and Socialize Smart

When one quits drinking, it is not uncommon to experience feelings of loneliness. Which is why it is important to make sure that you continue to socialize with people.

Of course, the dangerous element to a lot of social occasions is that there may be alcohol present. To make sure that you don’t isolate yourself, but keep yourself safe at the same time, here are a few smart tips for staying sober while socializing.

Always Bring Your Own Drinks

If you don’t have a beverage in your hand, someone is bound to offer you something. To make sure that you are not placed in this tempting situation, be sure to always bring along a good supply of non-alcoholic drinks.

Allow Yourself to Leave If You Need To

A great way to maintain your resolve is to plan escape routes from parties. You can pave the way for an easy exit by telling your hosts you may have to leave early. This way, if you begin to feel uncomfortable, you can easily leave.

Always Drive Yourself

To make sure that you can leave a situation if you need to, always drive yourself.

Elect to Be the Designated Driver

One of the great perks to being sober is that you can do your friends that favor of offering to be their DD. Of course, don’t feel obliged to offer this service if you know they are going to a drinking binge session, as this may be a trigger.

But, if you are comfortable with the occasion, and your friends may have the odd beer or glass of wine – being the DD will help to get you out while keeping you on track.

Invite Sober Friends Over

Socializing with sober friends is a great way to ward off loneliness, establish a connection and avoid triggers.

Friends who champion your resolve can be an invaluable source of support. While friends who try to pressurize you into having a drink with them, when they know you have quit, are not true friends at all.

Don’t Be Ashamed to Say ‘I Don’t Drink’

According to statistics, just over 80% of adults have reported having had one alcoholic drink in their lives. But, not all of this 80% actively drink. 56% of participants reported having had only one drink in the previous month.

This brings home the fact that not everybody drinks a lot. In fact, some people hardly drink at all. Which makes saying ‘I don’t drink’ not that big of a deal.

In fact, some of the most successful and interesting people don’t drink. By telling someone that you don’t drink, you are effectively saying that you are one of those focused and driven individuals that have important things to do and do not want to cloud their senses.

Final Word

Getting sober might be one of the toughest things you do. But, once you start you will begin to build momentum. Your life will change around you and one day you will look back and be awed at what you did.

And while recovery from alcohol addiction is not an easy process – there are many things that you can do to prime yourself for success, stay sober, and give yourself the space to heal. What’s more, many of these hacks and steps will enrich your life to the point where you won’t recognize it anymore.

This is something that many recovered alcoholics can attest to. So hang in there.

If you are at the beginning of your road to a sober life and need a place to start then take a look at this step-by-step guide for more info on getting and staying sober.

If you are in search of treatment have a look at our programs.

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Article Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.