Quitting is easy. The actual process of deciding not to abuse drugs and alcohol requires very little effort. In fact, it’s so easy that some addicts and alcoholics have become experts at it. At some point toward the end of our active addiction, we might quit upwards of two or three times a week. We know exactly how to make promises to our families while flushing our stash or pouring our liquor down the drain. The hard part, however, is actually staying sober. This often gives us some difficulties, which is why so many prefer not to do it.
Staying sober involves many components that seem rather difficult. For instance, removing our character defects presents a bit of a challenge. Making amends can be emotionally trying. And to many, the spiritual experience appears to be based on sheer dumb luck. All of these things seem easy once we’re on the other side of them, but until then we often feel stuck. Fortunately for us, there are at least seven methods of staying sober that we can practice every single day.
Many sponsors will give you four or five of these. The first four as they appear here are generally the same. But we’ve heard three different variants of the fifth method, so we have decided to include all three. We hope this list helps you as you endeavor to stay sober for the next twenty-four hours. And if you can’t do all of these in a single day, don’t worry. Do what you can, and take it one day at a time. As long as you remember that today is what matters, staying sober will no longer appear to be the monumental task it once seemed.
1. Attend a Support Meeting
First of all, we should mention that AA and NA meetings enable you to do the next three things on this list with ease. You can speak with others in attendance, read some books or pamphlets in the meeting hall, and pray with fellow sufferers at the beginning and end of the meeting. But meetings in and of themselves also provide a great method for staying sober. Even many sober celebrities have said that they could not stay sober without attending a meeting every day. Meetings present us with an opportunity to get things off of our chests. We also hear stories that remind us of our own. It is important to remember what our addiction was like, as well as how far we have come in our sobriety. And by telling our stories during shares or speaker meetings, we can also feel as if we are potentially helping others.
Of course, there are times at which we might not feel like attending. Perhaps there’s an exciting game on TV, and we don’t want to miss a second of it. Many have skipped meetings and stayed sober. Unfortunately, many have also found that skipping just one meeting made it all too tempting to skip the next. This is why, on the days we wish to skip, our attendance becomes more important than ever. If we don’t monitor our thinking, it can get the best of us. To be certain, we may have pressing issues at times that cause us to miss our regular meetings. Nonetheless, we must get back on the horse as quickly as possible. And if we don’t have a truly important reason for skipping, then staying sober must remain our first priority.
2. Read Some Recovery Literature
There exists no shortage of recovery literature that can be read each day. The most obvious choices remain Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. There also exists a book solely meant for NA. But both AA and NA also have numerous other books which you will discover if you dig around. You may also get something out of humorous autobiographies such as Sober Stick Figure. The point is that you can read whatever you want, even if only a paragraph a day, as long as it pertains to recovery.
Recovery literature is often read in meetings, but you might actually gain more from striking out on your own. Drop the Rock is an especially good book about removing our defects. The more you look for books related to recovery, the more you will find that there is no shortage of good books out there. Even if you only read a paragraph a day, this will help you. Do what you can, and the benefits will mount.
3. Talk to Someone in Recovery
People usually attribute this tip to sponsors. Talking to your sponsor every day is highly recommended. But if for some reason you do not have a sponsor, meetings will still put you in the same place as numerous fellow sufferers. You might find one with great stories, after which you may request their sponsorship. Otherwise, you will simply find a kindred spirit with whom you share some similar experiences. Either way, do not take them for granted. This person can help you when it comes to staying sober.
Staying sober is not something we do in isolation. It is something we do by asking for help. Do that at meetings, and you will find many people who are willing to help you. Some will practically put their lives on the line for your sake. These people are your greatest allies, and you should treat them as such. Never assume that you can do it alone. Always seek help whenever possible.
4. Pray or Meditate
No matter what your personal beliefs, staying sober requires some sense of spirituality. Perhaps you pray to God or perhaps you simply meditate and hope that the universe will help you. Either way, you are on the correct path. Prayer and meditation are important to Step Three and Step Five, two of the most important steps. If we forget this, we put ourselves in the dangerous position of forgetting our need for spirituality. We must always remember that we cannot do this alone.
At AA or NA meetings, we will pray at least twice. But if we care about staying sober, we should also endeavor to do this on our own. We should pray or meditate in the best way we know in order to facilitate a stronger connection with our own personal Higher Power. This helps us to keep our spirituality in check. We must never forget that we are not doing this alone.
5. Do Something Physical
Exercise is the first tip for staying sober that we cannot embrace while in a meeting. Sure, we could jog in place during the Serenity Prayer, but most people would likely not appreciate this decision. We need to find outside methods of remaining physical. In a recent interview, Daniel Radcliffe claimed that exercise remains one of the key factors in maintaining his sobriety today. Not only does exercise make us feel better, it also reminds us that we could not excel in physical activities when intoxicated.
We might engage in exercise by going to the gym, but there are also other ways. We might take up laser tag or paintball. We might start playing a sport that we enjoy. Some people lose massive amounts of weight by playing games such as Dance Dance Revolution. Even if we do not need to lose weight, we might follow their example if we enjoy video games. The point is that there is no shortage of physical activities in which we can engage ourselves. We simply need to find one that works for us and stick to it on a regular schedule.
6. Find a Fun Hobby
We mentioned laser tag and paintball above, but there are other hobbies that might help us with our addictions. Sometimes, it is the things we do outside of sobriety that help us to stay sober. This is something that only we can discover for ourselves. No one else can tell us what our hobby should be. But if we truly love it, then it should help us to reaffirm our sobriety. Staying sober depends largely on finding ways to enjoy life. This is why hobbies help so much with staying sober in the first place.
Hobbies that we might embrace for the purpose of staying sober include collections, sports, hunting and fishing, creative arts, and any other activity that we might have enjoyed before our addiction took hold. If we cannot learn to enjoy our sober lifestyles, there is little point in maintaining them in the first place. Finding hobbies that we enjoy therefore becomes essential to our daily living. Perhaps we cannot enjoy them every day, but we should do what we can. In this way, sober living reminds us that life can be enjoyable without the dangerous thrills of drugs and alcohol.
7. Perform Some Service Work
One of the key components of sobriety is service work. In order to keep it, we must give it away. To some extent, we might say that we do this whenever we share in a meeting. We can also show up early to help set up and make coffee. Or we can stay late to help clean. Other methods of service work involve charity or volunteering. Because while service work often indicates working to help other addicts and alcoholics, any form of generosity will do.
No matter what form of service work we embrace, we must be committed. Performing service work just once and then calling it a day will not suffice. If we do not perform service work on a regular basis, we cannot proclaim ourselves to be charitable. We are merely people who performed one or two good deeds. Staying sober needs to be important to us, so we should never take this for granted. If we have the ability to help others, we should do it. The character growth we experience while staying sober is great, but only if we maintain it. Service work is one way of doing this, and we must never forget it.