A Guide to Sober Living

A Guide to Sober Living

Addiction cannot be cured for life, but it can be controlled if treated with the proper efforts. After receiving help to come off of their drug use, many addicts can avoid relapse, but what are the keys to such success? Identify and address personal and social weaknesses in order to prevent relapse day by day; this focus is crucial to sober living. According to one research paper, “Alcohol and drug dependent individuals with histories of homelessness, incarceration, and lack of social support for sobriety are particularly vulnerable to relapse without the provision of long term community based services that support sobriety”1. Indeed, finding the right support is the key to wellness.

Stop Relapses Early

In regard to relapse, realize that a series of events is usually responsible for renewed drug abuse. It has been said that relapse is not an event, but a process, so relapse prevention means you must identify the steps of the process, and then correct the course to prevent future drug abuse. The relapse cycle can start months or weeks before drug abuse occurs; therefore, some recovering addicts may not see themselves as at-risk when they are. However, break relapse into three stages to identify the source of this preventable problem2.

Emotional relapse is the first stage of renewed drug abuse, which often occurs without conscious thought of using a drug. At this point, emotions take a turn for the worse: the emotional signs of relapse are anxiety, anger, poor eating habits and a feeling of isolation that discourages addicts from seeking support from other people. Such people may become intolerant of others’ patient efforts to help them; sleep may also be disturbed, which will put them at further risk of poor decisions. These signs are also the same as the withdrawal symptoms in its post-acute stage. The key to getting clean is to seek professional help to move past withdrawal, because it can help prevent relapse in this early stage and create a pattern of such behavior for the future.

If you recognize that you are in the throes of an emotional relapse, then evaluate your self-care habits and see what adjustments you can immediately make. Sleep more, eat better, find time to relax and meditate and let go of resentment and fear through therapy and trusted communication3.

Create a Sober Community

Mental relapse means a patient begins to think about returning to substances, but tells herself that she does not want to do so. This is a mental battle where she is at least considering the final stage, physical relapse: at this point, she has already suffered through emotional relapse and may still feel the effects, which now makes for a combined emotional and mental battle for her to stay clean. To avoid relapse, she must seek outside support. If she avoids help during emotional relapse, then she is less likely to accept help at this later point. However, the converse could also be true—by thinking she must conceal her emotional battles, she may recognize a mental inclination to discuss her addictive behavior.

The signs of this level of relapse include mentally associating with things and places that had to do with drug use before rehab began. If you think about places you used drugs, the activities you used to engage while you abused drugs and the people with whom you used drugs, then you move mentally closer to your breaking point. At this stage of relapse, you may begin to lie even about issues that seem disconnected, but any dishonesty sets drug users up for relapse. In short, practice honesty at all time, but especially at this point of the relapse cycle. Recovering addicts must remember that cultivating a strong, personal commitment to honesty will protect them from relapse. Any friends who discourage such honesty will most likely win you over to dishonesty and renewed drug abuse.

If someone does not strictly maintain a sober living environment, then the chances of physical relapse are extremely high. A single offer of drugs may be all it takes to sway the mind to accept drug use. Fantasizing over drug use will lead to actual use when given the opportunity, so recovering addicts must nip these negative possibilities in the bud in order to stay sober.

It is urgent that, at this point, you use the mind to counteract the urge to participate in drug use. Users are encouraged to walk down the imaginary corridor of consequences: the addiction will convincingly tell the mind that there is no problem with a little drug use, but a little mental discernment and meditation will remind sensible people of the problems that will follow relapse. Speak to a key role player in the sober living environment to snap back into reality. Then, find a distracting activity: go for a brisk walk in a moment of temptation to shift your focus onto better feelings. Waiting for only 30 minutes is generally more than enough time to avoid relapse, as a lot of urges subside after 15 or 20 minutes. In short, find something to keep your mind occupied for the period of time that a craving occurs.

Avoid Physical Relapse One Day at a Time

Recognize the signs of relapse mentioned above, as you can physical relapse, but only with considerable work4. Once you decide to obtain drugs, which you have struggled so hard to leave behind, then you have already passed the healthy point of abstinence. However, it is possible to catch and stop relapse before it is too late, so do not let sober living slip through your fingers. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now to talk with our admissions coordinators about the care that can help you maintain sobriety.


1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556949/ Retrieved 11/13/2015.

2 www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org Retrieved 11/13/2015.

3 http://www.womenforsobriety.org/beta2/ Retrieved 11/13/2015.

4 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery Retrieved 11/13/2015.