For most people, sober living is natural. But, what about those of us who were born with that “addiction” gene? We have to learn how to live a sober life.
Despite our efforts to make everything complicated, sober living is simple and can be broken down into some measurable steps.
1. Ask For Help
I know it’s hard to do…it was for me anyway. I was successful in most parts of my life, but I couldn’t beat alcohol. I thought that since I was able to accomplish so many other things, that I could quit drinking on my own. I was wrong.
When I set aside my ego and asked for help I got it.
My nature is to fight everything and make things happen by the sheer force of my will. This type of life was utterly exhausting. I had to learn that I was not the most powerful force in the universe. When I admitted that maybe (just maybe) there were other forces at work, I was free to focus on the few things I could control…specifically my actions and reactions.
3. Find Support (surround yourself with positive people)
My ego allowed me to think that I was the only person in the world with problems. That’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but not much. I chose to suffer (pain is inevitable, but suffering is chosen) alone for a long time. When I finally reached out to others, I found that I was NOT alone. Hearing stories shared by others offered me significant relief.
4. Do the work
Sober living is not a passive exercise. Like anything else worth doing, getting sober is hard work. It involves critical self-evaluation and actively working a program or recovery. Everyones program looks a bit different, but the work has to be done regularly. Most good recovery programs teach that sober living happens one day at a time.
5. Avoid temptation
Unfortunately, relapse is a reality of life for recovering people. We are all one drink (or one line or one pill) away from a life of addiction. Avoiding situations where our drug of choice is readily available is an important safety valve for us. Legitimate situations certainly arise, but should be handled carefully.
6. Share your pain
Someone once said that “pain shared is pain cut in half”. I’m not sure if that is completely true, but I have found that when I discuss my challenges with people who have similar experiences, I find relief. When I confess my “secrets” out loud, they don’t seem as bad.
Be careful about telling war stories to folks with no frame of reference. Sharing your pain to someone with no experience with addiction or alcoholism can cause problems.
7. Help others
God created us to live in fellowship with others. Further, He intends for us to be of service to the people around us. The obvious place for this to start is at home. Endeavor to be of as much help as possible to your family. Be productive, vital, relevant and accomodating. Look for opportunities to help co-workers and friends. See difficulties as oportunities to be of service. Most importantly, help other addicts by sharing your experience with sober living.
Helping others often gives unique perspective on how good you really have it. Just like your mother taught you…no matter how tough things are, someone else always has it worse.
8. Give yourself a break
Getting sober is hard work! Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle along the way. You are going to have bad days and setbacks. Just remember that those difficulties always pass. When challenges pop up remember how you felt when you were living a drinking/drugging life. The worst day sober is better than the best day drunk!
9. Be grateful
If you are lucky enough to be given the gift of sobriety, be grateful. When I get in the habit of thinking about all the good things in my life (health, family, friends, etc) I don’t have time or energy to brood on whatever challenges are in front of me on that day. Be deliberate about your gratitude. Write it down and share it with others. Gratitude leads to a positive attitude, which leads to a good day!
10. Don’t Use Any Mind-Altering Substances
Now, this one seems pretty obvious, but I feel that I would be remis if I excluded it. I cannot live a sober life if I am using substances to change the way I feel. The exuse “I’m an alcoholic so taking pain pills or smoking a joint is alright” does not work. The reason I abused alcohol was that I did not like the way I felt and drinking changed that for me. The same is true of any other substance…no matter what your drug of choice may be.
Find out more about getting support for living a sober lifestyle!