For a chemically dependent person, staying sober is a long-term process involving
body, mind and spirit. It’s important to repair as much as possible of the damage
done by old habits, build new and healthier habits and use the time formerly taken
by drinking or drug-taking for constructive ends.
If you or someone you know is recovering from a chemical habit, here are some
suggestions that can help maintain sobriety.
Taking Good Care of Yourself
First of all, do your best for your body. It probably suffered some setbacks during
your drug-taking days. Get plenty of rest, eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly.
Rest, food and exercise all affect our moods, as well as our physical well-being.
The best diet is one that’s high in fresh vegetables and whole grains and low in
fats, sugar, additives, red meat and caffeine. Exercise can be of any type that appeals
to the person who’s doing it. It’s safest to increase the amount of exercise gradually
from a gentle beginning, rather than starting out with a strenuous regime.
Learning and Doing
Chances are, your old way of life had many destructive aspects. The more you
understand how old habits of thought and action contribute to dependency, the better
chance you’ve got to change those habits. Perhaps you were always setting yourself
up to fail by making your goals unreasonably high, or you didn’t know how to
have fun or relax, except by getting intoxicated. Maybe you had trouble being honest.
Or your ways of communicating with others were ineffective.
The best way to start the process of change is by trying something new. Learning
and doing are great ways to feel better about yourself and your life. Set yourself a
goal you know you can reach, sign up for a class in something you’ve always wanted
to learn, practice telling yourself the truth about how you feel or try meditation as a
nonchemical way of managing stress. Find out about communication workshops,
see a counselor or attend a meeting of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous. Think
about the person you’d like to be and the life you’d like to lead. Take one small step
Your Highest Priority
Above all, make staying sober your highest priority. Think of the situations that
result in your drinking or taking other drugs, and avoid those situations, as well as
any “old friends” who don’t support you in sobriety. Cultivate a spiritual life in
whatever faith you choose. When faced with a decision, ask yourself which option
will be most helpful in staying sober.
Attend 12-step program meetings regularly. You can get referrals to local groups
from your employee assistance program or the telephone directory. In general, put
your time and your strength into activities and relationships that help you stay
sober. You, and everyone around you, will benefit in the form of happier and