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Staying Sober (and Serene) in the Long-Term


Staying sober long-term is the ultimate goal for most people who go to substance abuse treatment. What are the typical ways that people get sober? How do they get sober in the long term?

Detoxing From Drugs

Many people who are addicted to substances benefit from a detox program. Detox is a great way to get clean from addictive drugs safely. Some programs offer medication-assisted treatment, while others do their best to make clients comfortable.

Usually, there will be therapy groups and 12-step support available while you’re in the detox. It’s a time that can be emotional and scary. This is because your body is adjusting to living without the drug. Having a supportive environment to help you get through the worst of it can help you stay sober.

Getting Treatment for a Substance Use Disorder

Asking for and receiving help is the first step to getting sober. Most people go to detox then continue their recovery journey by going to inpatient treatment or an outpatient program. In treatment, you’ll learn more about yourself and your addiction.

Addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that is chronic and requires treatment. As you learn more about your disease, you’ll also learn new skills to help you recover.

Openmindedness, willingness, and honesty are essential traits that will help you begin your recovery path. By being willing to try new things and being honest with yourself, you can start healing.

Treatment is a time for you to learn and grow. You’ll probably have a variety of therapies, including one-on-one and group, along the way to deepen your understanding of recovery and yourself. Aftercare and sober living programs can help you gain a stronger foundation in recovery once you have left treatment.

Aftercare and Beyond

Recovery doesn’t end when you complete a treatment program. Usually, you’ll start attending 12-step meetings and get a sponsor.

Many people find that they enriched themselves by going to a sober living program after completing a treatment program. A sober living program offers community support, and structure while a person transitions to more independent living.

Interested in Sober Living?

Are you or somebody you love interested in a sober living community? Learn more about the options we offer by calling 760-216-2077.

If you've been in recovery for months or even a few years, you may come to the point that you think you've got this recovery thing down, and there are no dangers left to avoid in terms of recovery. You've begun to work on repairing your relationships. Maybe you've got a great new job or mended ties with family and friends. You may even start to feel a bit of that serenity that people talk about in 12-step meetings. All of this can be a good thing, but it doesn't mean you're cured of your addiction.

Addiction is a disease. While you're taking care of life on life's terms, everything will change in an instant if you choose to pick up a drink or drug.

Dangers: Thinking and Behavior in Recovery

With more power over the decisions in your life comes more responsibility. There will come a time soon that your recovery is tested. Long-term recovery is an exciting accomplishment, but no one is immune to dangerous thinking or behavior. Backsliding can easily lead to a full-scale relapse if you're not paying attention to your sobriety program. Here are three dangers to watch out for:

  1. Forgetting you are powerless. You gain confidence and begin to feel pride in your life. You may have a job or a relationship that makes you feel good about yourself, and choose to spend more time on that than your actual recovery. It's easy to get lost in things and people that make you feel good. But recovery isn't about "feeling good" - it's about doing good and continuing to work on yourself, your defects, and taking the time to make the twelve steps and integral part of your life.
  2. Spending most or all of your time in a romantic relationship. Codependency is a common issue in recovery, and it can be quite painful. People in recovery are taught that they shouldn't enter into any new relationships in their first year of recovery. That's because early recovery is a time to concentrate on yourself and your behaviors. It's easy to "lose yourself" in a relationship to the point that the other person, and the feelings you have for them, is an addiction. Love can be intoxicating, and your self-esteem may start to depend on the other person. And just because you're told that you should wait "one year" to look for romance doesn't mean that you'll be ready for a relationship at one year sober. Many people aren't prepared to handle the emotions a relationship can bring, even after a year clean. 
  3. Taking risks for the thrill of it. People with addictive personalities are often thrill-seekers at heart. They get a "little kick" out of breaking the rules and "getting away with it." You may start speeding when there are no police around. Or maybe you start stealing office supplies to take home. You might be married but love to flirt with the woman at the coffee shop every day. Or maybe you decide to skip 12-step meetings because you're tired of the commitment. All of these behaviors are dangerous because they're based on a feeling of entitlement. You don't think the rules apply to you, so you're going to bend them a bit. When you "get away" with the behavior for long enough, it can snowball. You may get in trouble with the police or your workplace. Relationships might suffer. Or maybe you'll feel too ashamed to show your face at a meeting because of the damage your behavior has caused. 

Humbling Yourself and Re-Engaging

Life is about choices. Mistakes happen when we make the wrong ones, but it's not the end of the world.  If you were perfect, you certainly wouldn't be in recovery in the first place. It can be humbling to admit you're struggling because of your own behavior, but sharing with others will help lessen the burden.

If you're feeling guilty, scared, or having trouble because of your behavior, the first thing to do is "own it." Tell your sponsor, share at a meeting, and listen to the feedback of others. When you're feeling overwhelmed, it's time to hold on to your recovery as hard as possible. "Keep coming back", even when you feel bad. Recovery can bring you progress, but there's no perfection. 

Asking for help when you've fallen into a trap in recovery will help you save yourself. There's nothing you can face in recovery that somebody else hasn't lived through. So if you find yourself engaging in destructive behavior, it's okay to feel bad about it. It's okay to say you don't know the way out. Just remember that you're worth saving, and this too shall pass. You don't have to face anything alone.

Sober Living Options

Are you looking for sober living in the San Diego, California, area? We have a place for you to call home! Living with others in recovery offers fellowship and a way to be accountable to others. Our programs are an excellent launchpad for people new to recovery who need time to transition to daily life. We offer options for housing and aftercare. Call to hear more about how we can help you by calling 760-216-2077.

Getting clean and sober is a great start in a new way of life, but it’s not the only step to happiness. When you first get clean, most of your focus is on learning how to cope with the whole world without the use of substances. You’re often told to stay away from people, places, and things that present danger to your recovery. This may mean avoiding people you’ve known for years through drug and alcohol use. It’s a difficult thing to do, but you’re worth it! And as you adjust to life in recovery, you’ll find you make new friends with similar interested. But how does somebody go about making new friends in recovery?


Getting to Know People at 12-Step Meetings

One of the first lifestyle changes outside of staying sober that you’ll make is getting yourself plugged into 12-step meetings. Here is where you’ll find a sponsor to help you work the 12 steps as well as building a reliable support network.

Staying clean isn’t a job to be done alone. You need a robust support network to lean on when times get difficult.

Making friends at meetings is an excellent start to building this network. But friendships don’t exist in a vacuum. Going to meetings alone isn’t enough to build a relationship. You’ll need to collect phone numbers and make an effort to reach out to others.

How can you get to know others in recovery outside of 12-step meetings? It’s easier than it may sound. Start going out with the group after meetings, if your schedule allows. Find out about events that are hosted by 12-steppers in your area. You’ll see flyers for events such as sober dances, camping getaways, etc. at your local 12-step groups. Make an effort to attend these groups and try to make friends with people who are more than a year sober. They have experience, strength and hope to offer you.

If you have trouble talking to people or are shy, try to make sure that you get a “service position” at your favorite meeting. This is an obligation that you fulfill weekly, and it may be as simple as making coffee or putting out literature. You’ll get to meetings earlier when you have a service position and, even if you’re shy, people will start to learn your name when you show up early every week.

If you’re worried you won’t have enough support after treatment, 12-step meetings are essential, but they are not your only option. Consider aftercare therapy groups and sober housing, which will give you support from peers who understand what you’re going through.

Finding Sober Housing

Sober housing is a great way to make friendships with others and live in an environment of supportive peers. Learn more about your options by calling us at 760-216-2077.

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