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Healing, Strengthening, and Advancing the Lives of LGBTQ People Seeking Recovery

What Does Staying Sober Mean? Defining a Complex Term

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Check any dictionary’s definition of sober and you’re likely to see something like “not drunk” or “not affected by alcohol.” The term is also used to describe people who abstain from alcohol or other intoxicating substances for an extended period. 

While none of these definitions are incorrect, they fail to capture the complexity of what sobriety means in daily life. That’s what we aim to do in this article. More specifically, we’ll expand on the definition of sobriety, look at tips for staying sober, and show how staying sober is a lifelong commitment. 

Ready to start your sober life? Call La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center at 888.903.9898

Expanding the Definition of Sobriety

The most basic definition of sobriety refers to being free from the intoxicating effects of alcohol or drugs. Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. 

This seemingly straightforward definition has hidden aspects that go beyond just not using alcohol or drugs.

Consider this: one person can be sober by not drinking for a night. At the same time, another person is sober by not drinking for many years. Both are correct, but the meaning of sober is different in each case.

For our purposes, let’s look at the second meaning of the word. Those committed to long-term sobriety not only refrain from intoxicating substances but embark on a life-altering journey that goes beyond simply avoiding alcohol and/or drugs. 

Staying sober requires a complete lifestyle change. While this will look different for each person, it generally involves a commitment to physical, mental, and emotional well-being. That could mean prioritizing personal growth, building a support network, addressing past traumas, attending therapy, or something else entirely. 

Regardless of the approach someone takes, the underlying goal of long-term sobriety is to handle all of life’s challenges in a calm, measured way without substances. 

10 Tips for Staying Sober

Understanding what long-term sobriety means is one thing. Maintaining it is a whole other challenge. 

Here are 10 tips to help you stay sober. 

1. Understand that white-knuckling doesn’t work

Society likes to tell us that getting and staying sober is simply a matter of willpower, motivation, or grit. If you want to live a substance-free life, you just have to want it badly enough and apply yourself. 

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Trying to remove alcohol from your life by just keeping your head down and barreling through obstacles without reflection is a surefire way to fall off of the wagon. 

That’s because alcohol is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. Cutting it out of your life requires a physical withdrawal process (and sometimes even a medically-assisted detox program), as well as a complete lifestyle overhaul. This might include attending a treatment program, starting therapy, joining a support group, and finding new social circles, just to name a few. 

Don’t feel bad about needing help. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human. 

2. Identify triggers and temptations, then avoid them

Whether it’s walking down the wine aisle at your local supermarket or hanging out at a local bar, everyone has things that remind them of alcohol. Reflect on what yours are and do everything you can to avoid them. 

This could mean avoiding the drinks aisle altogether or filling your fridge with non-alcoholic beverages when you’re in the mood for a drink. 

It’s not always possible to manage triggers, but avoiding substances is a whole lot easier than trying to manage cravings when you’re surrounded by things that set you off. 

3. Learn how to socialize sober

Lots of people will try to tell you that sobriety is boring or that you’ll never be the life of the party without booze. That’s simply not true. 

Sure, it’ll take some practice, but socializing sober is just as rewarding (if not more rewarding) as socializing under the influence. Start small by trying out a new hobby or throwing a sober happy hour at home. Who knows, once you’ve built up your confidence, you might find yourself in the center of the dancefloor again. 

4. Embrace mindfulness

One of the best ways to manage and control your triggers is to practice mindfulness. Do this by paying attention to your five senses (what do you hear outside? How does the shower feel on your skin?), meditating, practicing yoga, or going for a walk in nature. 

5. Remember that relapses aren’t failures 

Nobody wants to relapse, but remember that it’s not the end of the world if you do. Instead of treating each one as a sign of weakness, try to learn something about yourself. Maybe you need to try a different therapy approach. Maybe you’ve been slacking on your support groups. Maybe work has been stressful and you need to think about a new career path. 

Whatever the reason, recommit to your sobriety as soon as possible and try to address the underlying causes of your relapse. When you treat yourself with compassion, each relapse is a growth opportunity, not a flaw. 

6. Reach out for help 

Addiction thrives in isolation. Therefore, it stands to reason that sobriety requires connection. Whether it’s a 12-step meeting, a spiritual community, a yoga class, or an online forum, find healthy, supportive places to spend your time. 

The people you meet in these places will support you in moments of weakness, something that’s crucial when avoiding drugs and alcohol. 

7. Be honest

It may sound too simple to be effective, but honesty is crucial to maintaining long-term sobriety. Regardless of the context, lying makes you feel guilty and anxious, two emotions known to trigger cravings. 

Being honest doesn’t just apply to your interactions with other people. It also means checking in with yourself to make sure you’re acting authentically and only engaging in activities that serve you. 

8. Practice self-care 

Self-care is important for everyone, but it’s crucial when you’re trying to stay sober. That’s because staying sober requires consistent effort, something you’re better equipped to do when you’re feeling your best. 

At a minimum, practicing self-care means getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, drinking water, and moving your body. Beyond that, take a bath, read a good book, watch your favorite show, and prioritize spending time with people who lift you up. 

9. Celebrate your successes

Staying sober isn’t for the faint of heart, so remember to pat yourself on the back whenever you reach a new milestone. Need some ideas? Share your win on social media, buy yourself a little treat, or take a trip with friends to mark the occasion. 

10. Stay engaged in treatment 

Even if you completed inpatient or outpatient rehab years ago, that doesn’t mean you can stop working your program. Keep going to therapy, attend support group meetings, and set goals for the future. 

Get Sober and Stay Sober at La Fuente Hollywood 

Located in sunny Los Angeles, La Fuente Hollywood is one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ addiction treatment centers. Our inpatient and outpatient rehab programs help you get sober, while our alumni program helps you stay sober. In addition to 12-step meetings and sober events, we offer accountability partners and post-rehab planning. 

To find out more about getting and staying sober at La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center, call us at 888.903.9898. 

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