How to be Sober: Vital Steps To Take [& How to Maintain]

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Sobriety is challenging, and it will test you in many ways. It is also, without a doubt, one of the most rewarding, brave things you can do for yourself.

In this article, we will discuss some of the questions you may have early on in your sobriety journey.

We will explore how to best prepare for a sober life, some of the challenges you may face along the way, and a few of the top tips for staying sober.

Read on to learn about:

  • How long it can take to be sober
  • How to sober up fast
  • Getting ready for sobriety and what you can do
  • What the first steps to sobriety may look like
  • Challenges you may have on your sobriety journey
  • Some tips for getting sober, and staying sober.

Let’s get into it.

How Long Does It Take To Be Sober?

If you’ve started drinking, it will likely take at least a few hours to sober up. As a general rule, it will take one hour for your body to process one standard drink.

If you are considering a lifestyle of sobriety, this journey will take much longer.

Sobriety is a lifelong process and is something that takes hard work, commitment, and often months or even years to achieve.

Can You Sober Up Fast?

Unfortunately, there is no significant way to speed up the breakdown of alcohol in your body.

The best thing you can do is to stop drinking and allow your body time to process the alcohol.

However, there are some ways to delay the effects of alcohol and to help you feel better faster.

These include:

  • Eating carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread to help delay the absorption of alcohol
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • If necessary, induce vomiting to remove unabsorbed alcohol from your stomach
  • Resting to allow your body to rid itself of alcohol
  • Having a cold shower to help clear your head.

How To Prepare for Sobriety

1. Recognizing the Need for Change

The first step to sobriety (which should never be underestimated) is recognizing the need for change.

We all have personal reasons for wanting a sober lifestyle, which will often be a source of strength down the line.

It is important to understand the impact of substance use on your life and relationships with others.

2. Setting Goals

When preparing for your journey, it can be useful to establish specific, achievable goals that motivate and guide you throughout your journey.

Set both short-term and long-term goals related to sobriety.

3. Planning for Change

Deciding on a sober lifestyle is a big step to take, it is important to mentally and physically prepare for the transition to a sober-free lifestyle.

This may include talking to your family doctor or simply letting your friends know what your plans are so that they can support you.

Taking The First Steps Towards Sobriety

A Look At The Detoxification Process

Detoxification refers to the early process of allowing your body to rid itself of alcohol, and other toxic byproducts.

During this time, there can be significant withdrawal symptoms, which can be dangerous for people who have used alcohol for a long period of time.

It is important to work with a doctor or addiction specialist to help manage withdrawal symptoms.

Seeking Professional Help

Alcohol abuse is a common problem, with many professionals being willing and able to help you through the process towards sobriety.

A good first place to go to is your family doctor, as your doctor will be able to help you find a rehabilitation clinic, psychologists, and other professionals to make the process as smooth as possible.

IMPORTANT: Make sure to find the appropriate treatment for you

There are many treatment options available, some of which will be better catered for your needs than others. Here are some treatments and what they aim to achieve:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Also known as CBT, helps to develop practical coping strategies and change negative thought patterns to help recognize triggers and prevent relapse
  • Motivational Interviewing: This type of therapy helps people to increase their motivation and commitment to sobriety by identifying barriers, and reasons for change
  • Family Therapy: Family therapy is a type of group therapy that helps to address family dynamics that may contribute to substance use, as well as help teach the family to support you in recovery
  • Trauma-Informed Therapy: This treatment aims to address past trauma by creating a safe space for people to process and heal from traumatic experiences that may contribute to their substance use.

Build a Support System

Sobriety is often a challenging journey, and having a good support system that provides emotional reassurance and encouragement during difficult times will often help you stay on track.

It is important to choose your peers wisely, as some people will help and others will (intentionally or unintentionally) hinder your journey.

Different support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can also help you meet like-minded people.

The Challenges You Can Expect On Your Sobriety Journey

Cravings, withdrawal, and coping with physical and emotional challenges

The shift towards a sober lifestyle will often leave you with some challenges such as cravings and withdrawals, especially early on.

People can experience anxiety, tremors, and nausea in the early stages of withdrawal.

It is also an emotionally trying time where support and preparation will be instrumental.

Rebuilding relationships, trust, and dealing with social pressure

For many people who decide to give up drinking, relationship breakdowns are often contributing factors.

It can be difficult to convince people of your change and to prove to them that they can trust you.

It can also be equally challenging to stay committed to your sobriety when we live in a society that normalizes drinking, especially in social spheres.

It is important to build skills and strategies for when these situations do crop up.

Identifying and addressing underlying issues while managing physical health

For many people, hardships, challenging emotions, and relationship breakdowns are all common influences that feed into addiction.

In order for people to achieve long-term sobriety, it may mean facing these issues head on. For some people, this may require working with a psychologist, counselor, or doctor.

Managing physical health is also important not only because it encourages overall health but also because conditions such as chronic pain can encourage alcohol use.

It is important to discuss this with health professionals to manage these underlying issues.

Reestablishing purpose, finding support, and overcoming stigma in recovery

Finding your footing in sobriety can be a challenge.

By setting yourself some short-term and long-term goals that align with your values, you can help bring purpose back into your life. These goals could be related to a career, hobbies, relationships, or personal growth.

Finding support groups or friends that can help you implement health habits that can help you stay on track and motivate you through tough times.

Additionally, support groups such as AA or Narcotics Anonymous can help you manage the stigma that comes with sobriety.

Managing physical health issues that may have resulted from substance abuse

Substance abuse – especially long-term substance abuse – has harmful effects on our mental and physical health.

It is important to remember that our bodies are incredible machines that can regenerate and heal if we give them the opportunity to do so.

Sobriety allows your body to begin to recover from active addiction and has numerous health benefits.

Working with your family doctor will help to diagnose and treat these health issues to help further support you on your road to recovery.

Tips For Staying Sober

Staying sober involves adopting a lifestyle that supports your commitment to abstaining from substances, but is not always straightforward to maintain.

However, there are some practical steps you can take to help support your sobriety:

Build a strong support system

Building a strong support system will help you both when you are feeling great and when you are struggling with maintaining your sobriety.

It is important to make sure that the people you surround yourself with are people who fully understand your sobriety journey.

For example, the people that you associate with substance use in your old life are often not the best people to surround yourself with when establishing a sober lifestyle.

Other support systems can include professional assistance such as psychologists, doctors, and sober buddies (or even dates) that can help keep you accountable.

Avoid triggering environments and people

Unfortunately, drug and alcohol use is normalized in many social situations and poses a real challenge for those of us who are trying to maintain abstinence from substances.

It is important to recognize which people and places are triggering for us in order to avoid them.

Think of the common places you would associate with alcohol use, and list these down for example.

It is also important to recognize the warning signs that can result in relapse.

Develop healthy coping strategies

For many people who struggle with addiction, substance use is a way to escape from difficult thoughts, feelings, and situations.

When we commit ourselves to sobriety, it is important to also recognize that these situations and feelings do not magically disappear.

Instead, we must find healthy ways to deal with these situations to prevent relapse.

Set clear boundaries

Throughout your sobriety (and especially at the beginning), it is important to surround yourself with individuals who respect your decision to stay sober and support your journey.

Set clear boundaries or distance yourself from relationships that encourage or enable substance use.

Practice self-care

Self-care plays an important role in supporting sobriety by nurturing overall well-being, along with helping to manage stressors that might trigger substance use.

Self-care looks different for everyone, so it is important to learn what your self-care is.

For example, it may be going for a walk outside for some, while for others it might look like a night out at a sober bar.

Attend therapy or support groups

Therapy or support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous help to support you to become sober and maintain sobriety.

They can help you identify any underlying triggers that contribute to your substance use and understand how to support you in sustaining your sobriety.

Stay engaged in activities and hobbies

Engaging in hobbies such as sports, art or social activities can help positively occupy your time – reducing the likelihood of turning to substances out of boredom.

These activities also provide a positive outlet for stress and help to maintain social relationships and both physical and mental well-being.

Create a daily routine

During sobriety, consistency is key. Creating a daily routine will help you channel your energy into both productive and relaxing activities that fill your day.

This will keep your mind and body occupied and reduce cravings and other unhelpful habits that are associated with substance use.

Celebrate milestones and achievements

It is important to celebrate every milestone, especially early on in your sobriety journey!

Celebrating achievements – big or small – are useful motivators and helps to inspire us to keep going.

Sobriety apps and calculators are great ways to visually represent just how far you’ve come – no matter how far that is.

Learn from relapses and keep moving forward

Relapses are common and are not a sign of failure, but rather an opportunity for growth.

If you’ve experienced a relapse, it is important to reflect on what happened to trigger it.

Was it someone who we felt we needed to drink with? Or, was it a terrible day at work?

Learning from these moments is important to develop your toolkit and to prevent the same situation from recurring.

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