Avoiding the Traps of Early Sobriety Is A Lifestyle
Early sobriety is the toughest time for anyone with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). This is because it is full of painful problems. Often, the person in early sobriety has legal, financial and health issues. They must learn to navigate these. Emotions which have been repressed for years are coming up. These people are learning an entirely new way of life. While it is difficult, avoiding the traps of early sobriety is an attainable goal. If the person merely uses these 10 simple strategies, they can save themselves a lot of suffering.
Early Sobriety Survival Guide
There’s no way to know every problem that a person will have when they first get sober. Since no one knows the future, no one can predict what will happen. Therefore, it’s important to have a way to deal with anything that might come up. By using these 10 tricks, it is possible to get through early – and middle, and late – sobriety:
- Seek support.
- Learn to listen.
- Have a plan.
- Write everything down.
- Get a hobby.
- Do one thing at a time.
- Be honest.
- Change as little as possible.
- Be kind to yourself.
The first thing to do in early sobriety is find support. Without help, you’re more likely to fail. In order to find support, all someone needs to do is look. Here’s the best places to get support:
- Support groups.
- Friends and family.
- Online chat groups and message boards.
- Work or volunteering with a sober group.
Support is the key to surviving early sobriety. This is because other people will have answers that single person doesn’t. Sober support groups are usually the best for this. Since the people in these groups have survived early sobriety, they are able to help with any traps that come along. In addition, a therapist has training to assist with the many emotions that are hidden by substance use. Meanwhile, friends and family can provide love and compassion that will make sobriety easier and more rewarding. Adding in meaningful and fulfilling work with a sober group of people will help fill time that was previously devoted to using.
Learn to Listen
Having a support system is good. But a support system is only useful if you learn to listen to the people in it. When you learn to absorb their wisdom and experience, you make yourself able to hear solutions. By practicing this skill, you’ll find new answers to questions and won’t make as many mistakes.
It’s very important you’re honest with yourself in early sobriety. It also helps to be honest with the people around you. If you aren’t honest about the problems you’re having, you’re unlikely to find honest solutions. If you can’t tell the people who support you what is really going on, they can’t help you. By being honest at all times, you’re more realistic. When you’re realistic, you’re able to handle issues in a practical way.
Have a Plan
There’s a common saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” When you develop a plan, you increase your chance of success. By creating a plan for everything, you create structure. That structure provides a way of coping with problems. Once you have a plan in place, change it and revise it as much as you need to. Then, create another plan for any situation that might arise. By doing this, you get in the habit of planning. This gives you the confidence to tackle any problem that comes along.
Write Everything Down
When we write things down we clarify our thinking. By seeing everything we’re thinking or feeling in black and white, it becomes easier to manage. You can never write too much in early sobriety. Begin by writing down everything that worries you. Then, come up with ways to deal with each of these problems. For example, if you’re afraid that stress from your job might cause you to use, figure out exactly how you’re going to cope with that. Should you be afraid that you won’t be able to socialize without alcohol, write down ways to handle that problem.
It’s also helpful to write down every success you have. If you were sober today, that’s a victory! Write it down and give yourself a pat on the back!
Get a Hobby
One of the biggest traps of early sobriety is boredom. When we’re drinking or using, a lot of our time was spent on those addictions. When we stop, we have a lot of free time. Since we’re not sure what to do with this, we need a way to fill those hours. By finding something we enjoy doing, we reduce the risk that we’ll want to use.
Write down what hobbies you have, or what hobbies you would like to start. Then, write down a schedule for when you’ll be doing these things. If you can find someone in your sober support system who enjoys these things as well, even better! In this way all the strategies mix together.
Do One Thing at a Time
It is impossible to solve all your problems at once. Research has shown that the best way to accomplish
anything is by doing a single thing. When you solve a single problem, you build confidence to take on others. People with SUD tend to catastrophize. We make mountains out of molehills. When we have to climb an actual mountain, it’s even worse. Early sobriety is a mountain, and that mountain is full of cliffs that we can fall off of.
Write down all your problems. Then write out a plan for coping with each one. Start by fixing the small ones. Pick the easiest problem you can and figure out how you’re going to deal with it. Once that’s off the list, you can move on to the next one. Keep doing this, and you’ll eventually get to the top of the peak.
Studies have found that our mental health is tied to our physical health. When our bodies are healthy, so is our brain. But, you don’t need to start a hardcore Crossfit routine to be healthy. Unless you were an avid gym rat before you got sober, there’s no need to try to be one now. Start small and simple. Schedule a time to walk around the block. You can always do more later. The important thing is to start. Make it a healthy habit. In doing this, you give your body and mind the chemicals they need to make early sobriety easier.
Change as Little as Possible
It might seem like a contradiction to say you shouldn’t change much in early sobriety. When you’re first getting sober, it feels like you’re changing everything. You are. What this means is you shouldn’t change any more than you absolutely have to. Here’s a few things you should try to keep the same, so long as they are healthy:
- Your job.
- Place of residence.
- Your geographic location.
- Your romantic relationship.
- Other relationships with sober people who wish to support you.
The more you can keep the same, the more safe structure you have. So long as you have healthy things in your life, hang on to them. Naturally, if anything risks your sobriety, it needs to be examined. If you decide it isn’t healthy, it should probably be removed.
One of the worst traps of early sobriety is getting into a new relationship. This is because relationships are hard, even when sober. When you’re just learning how to live without substances, they’re nearly impossible. They also frequently lead to relapse.
Be Kind to Yourself
You will make mistakes in early sobriety. If you’re like most of us, you’re going to make all the mistakes. That’s okay. Forgive yourself. Celebrate the wins and forget the losses. Learn from every mistake, write it down, talk it out with your support system and then come up with a plan to avoid that mistake in the future. You won’t do it perfectly. No one does. But, if you let yourself stumble and grow – while you treat yourself with kindness – you’ll get through it.
Hopefully these steps will help you in avoiding the traps of early sobriety. The sooner you begin the tough walk towards recovery, the sooner it will get easier. If you aren’t sure how to start, reach out to us and let us help you. Our staff is trained to give you the tools to make early sobriety easier. We can help you find support. We can teach you the ways of dealing with the woes of new sobriety. Let our experience guide you. All it takes is a simple phone call to begin your new life. You can do this!