How to Stay Sober?

Published On: November 8, 2022

An addiction to alcohol can massively affect an individual’s daily life. From issues within the individual’s job or school life to relationship struggles and financial issues, the effects can be life-changing.

This is why it is essential to seek rehabilitative care as soon as the individual can – either after an intervention or other pre-rehab treatment or after recognising addiction within themselves and working to overcome this.

The aim of most rehabilitative treatment (and all of the care received through Rehab 4 Alcoholism) is abstinence. This refers to the complete stoppage in the usage of alcohol, moving away from binge drinking and other forms of high alcohol consumption.

In turn, this leads to sobriety – the state of no further consumption of alcohol and the avoidance of this substance wherever possible.

Individuals who have not consumed alcohol for long periods of time are known as being sober and this is what rehabilitation aims to help the individual work towards.

How Do You Become Sober?

teen drink 2

As mentioned above, most individuals will achieve sobriety through rehabilitation – the process of learning new skills and techniques to cope with addiction in the long term and maintain long-term abstinence.

Generally, the process of rehabilitation is split into three stages.

These are outlined below:

  • Detoxificationthe process in which alcohol and other harmful chemicals are removed from the body, achieved by going through a withdrawal process.
  • Rehabilitation/therapy this is where the individual will engage in the bulk of addiction treatment programmes and therapy suited to their exact needs.
  • Aftercarethis refers to any care that the individual receives after leaving rehab. This can include addiction support networks, further independent learning courses, and re-admittance into rehab should it be needed. This is assessed at the end of an individual’s time in residential care (1).

How to Stay Sober

Woman jogging on the beach in shorts and a crop top

Every individual will have a different approach when it comes to staying sober and maintaining the abstinence techniques that were learned during rehabilitation.

Maintaining a sober lifestyle is no mean feat; individuals will have to commit fully and be fully motivated in order to avoid alcohol.

Without this motivation and dedication to remaining sober, individuals are likely to make little efficient progress, with relapse being a common occurrence among individuals with low motivation.

The rest of the article takes a look at some of the key factors and top tips for staying sober, maintaining abstinence, and working towards an addiction-free lifestyle in the long-term.

1. Identify Your Personal Triggers

Identifying personal triggers is something that most addiction treatment programmes will include as part of their services.

Often referred to as relapse risk prevention training or relapse trigger training, this is a programme that aims to assist individuals in determining their triggers.

In a general sense, triggers are occurrences, environments, or other individuals who may cause the individual to feel as though they should resort back to consuming alcohol.

This is a complex psychological concept and is something that is often misrepresented in the media.

In most cases, a trigger may be something not as obvious as a bottle of alcohol or the smell of the substance. Instead, it may be a deep association with a specific aspect of alcohol consumption and may not be obvious to others around the individual.

2. Recognize Relapse Warning Signs

Similar to triggers, recognising something that may cause the individual to relapse fully is vital. This may also be covered in treatments such as relapse risk prevention training.

When it comes to relapse, individuals may experience a physical relapse or a mental relapse. This affects how best to treat relapse and therefore is an essential concept to understand and incorporate as part of a relapse risk prevention plan.

If an individual is able to recognise these signs in time, then they may avoid relapse and the further care that is associated with this.

This may save individual months, if not years, of their lives in rehabilitation.

3. Find an Activity That Means Something to You

After leaving rehab, especially residential care, knowing what to do next or how to behave in everyday life can be difficult.

This is because these individuals are transitioning from a very controlled and isolated environment to an environment that is completely different.

Because of this, it is important to move on to something that has meaning for the individual. This will encourage the continuation of this behaviour or activity, leading to a more controlled structure or distraction for the individual.

This may also include activities such as exercise or developing a new hobby, and these are outlined further in the following two paragraphs.

4. Get Active

Getting active is something that is recommended to most individuals who are recovering from mental health issues as well as some physical issues.

Going for a run, taking up yoga, joining a dance club, or dipping into the local swimming pool are all activities that individuals leaving rehab may choose to do.

However, for many individuals, especially at the beginning of their aftercare and life after rehab, are not engaging in regular exercise, though interest is generally highest around this time (2).

This shows that although it may not be something that individuals who have struggled with a substance use disorder may consider early into their treatment, it is something that can be encouraged and increased as part of life after rehab.

5. Pursue A Hobby

Aside from activities such as exercise and more physical-based aftercare, an individual may also choose to pick up a new habit or restart one that they stopped as a result of their addiction.

This is another great recommendation for filling up time after rehab and keeping the individual’s mind occupied.

In addition, having a hobby can serve as a new way to meet people, communicate with people outside of an individual’s social circle, as well as doing something that they genuinely enjoy.

Hobbies can vary massively: from knitting and baking to collecting shells and reading, anyone can pick up something new.

Even if the individual does not enjoy the first few hobbies they try out, there are so many options, classes, and support available online that just the act of a hobby is beneficial.

6. Head Into Nature

Either combined with exercise or alone, getting out and about in nature can create a host of benefits for individuals who choose to engage in this method to stay sober.

By getting out of the house, individuals get access to multiple benefits.

Fresh air, a chance to stretch the legs, and time to be alone are all reasons why individuals should take the chance to go for a walk, a run, or a wander around the local area.

As well as this, getting out of the house may distance the individual from any stressful or triggering situations.

In many cases, going outside may be used as a form of coping mechanism and is a great way for individuals to wind down without the need for alcohol.

7. Build Healthy Relationships

After leaving rehab, it is important that individuals have the right type of social support in order to maintain their abstinence and stay sober in the long-term.

This social support will include individuals who understand the individual’s situation and their need for rehabilitation, as well as those who are willing to put in time and effort towards looking after those close to them.

This does not always mean that this social support should be the sole carer for an individual attempting to remain sober, but they should be consenting and willing to help the individual should they ask for it.

Individuals who have left rehab cite addiction support networks such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) as being especially effective in providing social support as well as an inpatient stay within a residential rehab centre (3).

8. Get Support

For individuals leaving rehab, there is a variety of support available to them.

This can be due to the effects of addiction on those around them, as well as the practicalities and logistics of an individual maintaining a full-time job and their own social life as well as caring for someone who has just left rehab.

However, finding a form of social support after leaving rehab is essential.

Through some residential rehab centres, individuals may be offered regular meetings with an addiction support officer or enrolment into groups such as AA.

These are both great ways to maintain social support as well as allow individuals to meet new people within these situations.

9. Celebrate Milestones

When it comes to long-term recovery, having a final goal can be difficult to conceptualise.

This is why it is important to break up the individual’s recovery into smaller milestones, celebrating each one and taking a moment to assess how far they have come.

Individuals can set milestones from the time they left rehab i.e., ‘one month since leaving rehab’, or they may choose to celebrate the total time spent being sober i.e, ‘one year sober’.

This is often calculated from the end of an individual’s detox procedure and may include the time they have spent in addiction treatment programmes as well.

Although setting these goals at the start of recovery may feel like a long and daunting process, once the individual has achieved their initial goals e.g., ‘one week sober’, then they may feel far more positive about their experience and the future of their recovery.

10. Keep a Dry House

Where possible, removing all alcohol from the house is a great way to maintain sobriety.

Where alcohol is still accessible within homes housing individuals recovering from addiction, it can often serve as a temptation or a distraction from their aim of sobriety.

Without this distraction, individuals are far less likely to break their sobriety and relapse into consuming alcohol again.

Obviously, this may not always be possible, but keeping any alcohol in the house away or out of sight for the majority of the time is always preferable.

11. Create New Traditions and Replace Old Patterns

As a combination of most of the factors mentioned so far, creating new traditions is one of the best ways to consolidate sobriety within individuals.

This is because the individual will be engaging in behaviours that and new and productive – the opposite of what they may have experienced before entering rehab.

In addition, stopping any old patterns or habits that the individual had before entering rehab e.g., meeting friends at a pub every Friday night, should be stopped as soon as possible in order to discourage repeating old habits and behaviours.

12. Have an Exit Plan at Social Events

Where social events cannot be avoided or if the individual feels strong enough to attend, then they should ensure that they know the best ways to exit the situation should it get too much for them.

This can include the physical layout of the building e.g., the best exits depending on where they are, but it may also include letting someone know that the individual may be struggling and entrusting them to help remove the individual from any situation they may feel triggered in.

This can also be created as part of a relapse risk prevention plan.

13. Rehab (Again)

Although relapse is not guaranteed for every individual who leaves rehab, there are measures in place to help individuals in all situations after leaving rehab.

In some cases, this may include the re-enrolment into rehabilitation (either residential or on an outpatient basis), but it may also include individual therapy or counselling opportunities for individuals who may be struggling with relapsing.

In addition, any individual who feels as though they may benefit from additional rehabilitation is b welcome to return to rehab or engage in different addiction treatment programmes that they may feel will be beneficial or comes from the recommendation of a medical professional.

Looking for a place to start?

To start your rehabilitation journey today, or to learn more about the process and who may be eligible, please get in touch with Rehab 4 Alcoholism.

Rehab 4 Alcoholism is a referral service, specialised in helping individuals struggling with addiction to enter the most suitable and appropriate form of care.

To get in touch today to find out how we can help you or someone you know, please do not hesitate to call our addiction support hotline on 0800 111 4108.

Rehab 4 Alcoholism helps individuals at every stage of the rehab journey, so please give us a call today and see how we can help you work towards an addiction-free lifestyle.


[1] Giorgi, I., Ottonello, M., Vittadini, G. and Bertolotti, G., 2015. Psychological changes in alcohol-dependent patients during a residential rehabilitation program. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 11, p.2989.

[2] Abrantes, A.M., Battle, C.L., Strong, D.R., Ing, E., Dubreuil, M.E., Gordon, A. and Brown, R.A., 2011. Exercise preferences of patients in substance abuse treatment. Mental health and physical activity, 4(2), pp.79-87.

[3] Brooks, A.T., Lòpez, M.M., Ranucci, A., Krumlauf, M. and Wallen, G.R., 2017. A qualitative exploration of social support during treatment for severe alcohol use disorder and recovery. Addictive behaviors reports, 6, pp.76-82.

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