Is your resolution for 2015 to continue to stay sober or to stop drinking alcohol entirely? If you’ve found that binge drinking or chronic drinking caused you to experience health problems, legal issues, financial struggles, or broke up a relationship you wanted to keep in 2014, then you couldn’t have chosen a more positive or healthier goal for the new year.
But how do you turn your good intentions into action and abstain from drinking all year long? Here are the top 10 ways that we’ve found that will help you boost your ongoing commitment to sobriety or jumpstart your recovery process:
- Get treatment. If you are just starting out or if you’re finding that you can’t stop drinking for more than a couple days or weeks on your own, then it’s time to seek professional help. This one choice will provide you with a host of what you will need to not only stop drinking safely but to also lay a strong foundation in recovery that you will be able to build on this year and in the years to come.
- Seek peer support. The more people you have around you who are strong, positive, sober, and supportive of your decision to quit drinking, the more likely you are to remain accountable to that decision and continue to make positive choices throughout 2015.
- Utilize 12-step programs. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and a host of traditional 12-step groups are available free of charge all over the country. In big cities, you should be able to find a meeting going on somewhere any time of the day or night if you need it. If you are not interested in the 12 steps, you can get the same level of support by attending regular support groups or other group therapies designed to connect you with peers in recovery where you live.
- Set positive goals. Consider all the things that you would do if you had more time, all the hobbies you have – or would like to have – or the things you would like to do with your career or people in your family. When you’re not drinking, you not only have more time, you have more money as well. Making sure you spend those two things on pursuits that are positive and healthy not only means that you are not focusing on drinking but that you also no longer have those resources open and available to the threat of relapse.
- Explore your spiritual side. You don’t have to be religious to spend time getting to know your spiritual side during recovery. Going on hikes, reading introspective literature, meditating, and other practices work to lower your stress, increase your self-confidence, and improve your mood – all of which work to help lower your risk of relapse.
- Limit interactions with “triggering” people or situations. People who drink or drink a lot, negative people, situations where alcohol is readily available, or stressful situations that make you want to drink all fall into the category of “people and places you should avoid if you want to stay sober.” Figure out who, what, and where specifically fall into this category for you and stay away from them in 2015.
- Ask for help. If you’re doing everything “right” but you still find that you aren’t feeling content in recovery and you are concerned that you may go back to drinking, reach out for help. If you’re already in treatment, talk to your therapist or counselor. If you’re not in treatment, start seeing someone who specializes in addiction treatment and/or begin a new therapy that will help you to stay on track.
- Show up. Even on the days that it’s hard, on the days when you’d rather be outside, on the days when you have to work, on days of celebration, or when you’d rather just be with your family or your partner, show up. Go to your meetings. See your therapist. Keep doing all the things that have helped you to stay sober up to this point and don’t stop even when you want to.
- Change it up. If you find that you are stagnating in recovery and boredom is making it difficult for you to continually show up to different therapies when you don’t want to, then make changes. Try sports therapy or dance therapy. Change your sponsor or connect with a sponsor if you don’t have one. Ask your current therapist for a referral to a new kind of therapy – or start talking to someone regularly on a one-on-one basis if you don’t already.
- Give back. One of the best ways to boost your own recovery once you’ve established yourself in your own therapeutic schedule, and have some “sober time” under your belt, is to give back to others. If you go to 12-step meetings, this can mean staying after to clean up or volunteering to be someone’s sponsor. Or it can mean volunteering at a homeless shelter or in some way giving back to your community. This not only serves the purpose of filling up your spare time with positive behaviors, but it boosts your self-esteem and allows you to see that your problems are relatively small in comparison to what some other people are facing every day.
What are your recovery goals for 2015? How will you stay sober and avoid relapse in the new year?