Helpful Tips for Staying Sober

The very first time I got drunk I was 9 years old. Yes, you’re reading it right. Nine. I was a very shy, very curious kid. I had been wondering about alcohol for a while, but when I asked my mom for a sip one time, I got a stern lecture. So one night at a family party I stole a bottle while the adults were busy. A couple of sips later I was drunk. I loved how it made me feel less awkward, less shy, and even though a cousin of mine caught me and made me promise not to do it again, I kept drinking every chance I got.

At 14 I started experimenting with marijuana; later, I got hooked on other, stronger more horrible substances. I struggled with alcohol and drug addiction all through my teenage years and a chunk of my adulthood. It cost me a lot of relationships and opportunities. It was only at 23 when I was spending time in prison for drug-related charges that I realized I wanted to change. I wanted to get clean. As soon as I was let out of prison, I checked into a rehab center. That was the beginning of my path towards recovery.

Recovery is a tough, very bumpy road from the beginning. Admitting you have a problem, getting treatment, detox, withdrawal, the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with the process… It’s hard, I know, I have been there. Getting out of rehab doesn’t mean it’s over, in fact, the real challenge is what comes next: staying sober. As difficult as it seems, it’s achievable.

I have been sober for 9 years now, and I want to share with you 5+ tips that helped me stay sober, especially during the early stages of sobriety

1. Avoid people and places that tempt you to drink or do drugs

The temptation will always be there, but there are certain places and situations in which you might be more tempted to drink or do drugs. It may seem obvious to avoid bars and clubs when you’re trying to stay sober. There are also other not so obvious events in which there might be alcohol involved, such as holiday celebrations and sports parties. You need to be vigilant and stay away from people that may be unhelpful when it comes to keeping you away from alcohol or drugs. Surround yourself with supportive people who want to see you succeed.

It was tough for me at first. I’ve always been a party guy, so I felt a little left out when my friends went out and I had to stay in. Luckily I had friends and family who made sure I didn’t feel lonely and made plans with me that didn’t involve alcohol.

2. Find a mentor or a friend to encourage you

As I mentioned in the last tip, surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed is essential if you want to stay sober. While sobriety can be a difficult path, you don’t have to walk it alone. Having someone -or several someones-, whether it’s a family member or a friend, who you can turn to in moments of doubt, who you can lean on, can increase your chances of staying clean. Don’t be scared to share your journey with friends and tell them that you’re trying to stay sober. Chances are, they will understand and even help you achieve this goal.

3. Reward yourself for your progress

Positive reinforcement is the best motivation for change. Find something that will motivate you to stay sober, it can be your favorite food or watch a new movie. Make it a reward for your little -actually huge- successes: a week sober, two weeks, a month and so on. If your reward gets stale, you can always change it for something else. My first reward was fried chicken. I love fried chicken, it has always been my favorite food. So, for the first three months, every Friday, I would go with my parents, my brother or some friends to get fried chicken. I later changed it for sushi, my second favorite food, then it was playing mini-golf once a month. They are simple things that can really make you look forward to staying clean so you can enjoy them.

4. Connect with a community

Never underestimate the influence meetings -such as those provided by AA or NA- can have a recovering addict. I didn’t believe in them at first, in fact, I only joined them when I was in prison so I would have an excuse to get out of my cell. They changed my life. It was because of something I heard during one of those meetings where I made the decision to get clean and it was in those meetings where I found the strength to keep fighting. Being able to share your feelings with people who understand exactly what you’ve been through because they’ve been there as well, is one of the most valuable experiences in this process. It’s a safe place, you don’t feel judged because whatever you’ve done they have too. They can learn from your experiences and you can learn from theirs.

5. Exercise

Staying active during your early stages of recovery is also fundamental for maintaining sobriety. Exercise not only improves your overall physical health, it also releases chemicals in your brains such as dopamine which can give you a feeling of pleasure similar to the high you got with drugs and alcohol. It gives you something to do with your time and it makes you feel better physically and mentally.

You can start with small workouts and build up from there. Choose any type of exercise you like. I chose hiking since I liked the idea of being surrounded by nature while exercising. I still do it every weekend and I can honestly say it made my recovery process easier.

6. Establish a Daily Routine

Establishing a daily routine plays a pivotal role in the pursuit of sobriety. Beyond the simple organization of time, a structured daily schedule contributes significantly to mental and emotional stability during recovery.

Prioritizing self-care becomes a cornerstone, emphasizing consistent sleep patterns, nutritious meals, and activities that enhance overall well-being. Positive habits, such as regular exercise and mindfulness practices, replace old associations with substance use.

Setting clear daily goals provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment, reducing the risk of boredom or idleness, common triggers for relapse. The creation of structure, encompassing designated times for meals, work, and relaxation, offers predictability and stability in contrast to the chaos often linked with addiction.

Building accountability into the routine, by sharing it with a trusted friend or mentor, adds a layer of support and encouragement.

Incorporating hobbies and interests fosters joy and fulfillment, contributing to a sense of purpose.

Mindfully planning downtime, balancing productivity with leisure, and maintaining flexibility in the face of unexpected challenges complete the foundation of a routine designed to support the unique journey of sobriety.

7. Identify Triggers and Develop Coping Strategies

Understanding your triggers is crucial for staying sober.

Acknowledging and understanding the diverse range of triggers—whether they be environmental, emotional, or social—allows individuals in recovery to navigate potential pitfalls with greater resilience. This process requires self-reflection, encouraging individuals to delve into past experiences and recognize patterns that may lead to substance use. Environmental triggers, such as specific places or people, can be proactively managed or avoided.

Emotional triggers, like stress or anxiety, necessitate the development of healthy coping mechanisms, such as mindfulness practices or stress-reduction techniques. Social triggers, often rooted in societal norms or peer pressure, are best addressed by establishing clear boundaries and cultivating a supportive network.

The key is to not only identify these triggers but also to tailor coping strategies to each specific challenge.

Seeking professional guidance, building a toolbox of coping mechanisms, and regularly reassessing and adjusting strategies over time contribute to a dynamic and personalized approach to sobriety.

This proactive stance equips individuals with the resilience needed to face life’s complexities without resorting to substance use, fostering a sustainable and empowering path to recovery.

8. Focus on Self-Reflection

In the journey toward sobriety, placing a significant emphasis on self-reflection is instrumental for personal growth and maintaining resilience. Self-reflection involves a deliberate and introspective examination of one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

This practice is essential for individuals in recovery as it enables a deeper understanding of the root causes of addiction and provides insights into the patterns that may contribute to relapse.

Regular self-reflection aids in recognizing triggers, understanding emotional states, and identifying areas of improvement. Techniques such as journaling, meditation, or therapy sessions offer structured approaches to delve into one’s inner thoughts and feelings.

Through self-reflection, individuals can foster a heightened self-awareness that becomes a cornerstone for making informed decisions, reinforcing positive changes, and navigating the complexities of life without turning to substances.

It serves as a compass, guiding individuals toward a more profound understanding of themselves and contributing to the ongoing process of maintaining a healthy, substance-free lifestyle.

9. Educate Yourself about Addiction

One of the pillars of how to stay sober is a commitment to continuous education about addiction. Understanding the intricacies of addiction, its underlying causes, and the physiological and psychological effects is empowering.

Education equips individuals with the knowledge needed to navigate the challenges of recovery and reinforces their commitment to a substance-free life. Attend workshops, seminars, or counseling sessions that delve into the science behind addiction, the impact on the brain, and effective treatment methods.

Reading reputable literature and staying informed about the latest research in addiction studies provides a broader perspective. Education also plays a vital role in reducing stigma, both self-imposed and societal, surrounding addiction.

By arming oneself with knowledge, individuals in recovery can make informed decisions, set realistic expectations, and cultivate a mindset that fosters long-term success.

10. Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic and achievable goals is a cornerstone of sustaining sobriety. Establishing both short-term and long-term objectives provides a roadmap for personal growth and serves as a source of motivation throughout the recovery journey.

Realistic goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). These objectives could include milestones such as days or weeks of sobriety, completing a certain number of therapy sessions, or acquiring new skills.

Celebrating small victories along the way reinforces a positive mindset and acknowledges the progress made. It’s crucial to recognize that recovery is a gradual process, and setting realistic goals helps manage expectations, reducing the risk of frustration or discouragement.

11. Prioritize Mental Health

Putting your mental well-being at the forefront is a fundamental aspect of the journey toward lasting sobriety. It’s like giving yourself a daily dose of self-care that goes beyond just staying substance-free.

Dive into activities that nourish your mind, whether it’s therapy sessions, connecting with support groups, or embracing mindfulness practices.

By prioritizing your mental health, you’re not just addressing the shadows of addiction; you’re actively building a foundation of emotional strength.

Take the time for self-reflection, explore stress-relief methods, and weave moments of self-care into your daily routine.

Recognize the intricate dance between mental health and addiction, understanding that a resilient mindset is your greatest ally. Seek professional support when needed, and don’t shy away from tackling mental health concerns head-on.

When your mental well-being takes center stage, you’re not just staying sober – you’re embracing a lifestyle that’s rich in fulfillment, resilience, and genuine self-care.

12. Stay Informed about Relapse Prevention Techniques

Consider relapse prevention as an evolving skill set, and stay curious about new insights and approaches.

By staying informed, you’re not just avoiding setbacks; you’re actively cultivating a mindset that anticipates and conquers challenges on your path to sustained sobriety.

Attend workshops, engage in counseling sessions, or explore resources that delve into the nuances of relapse prevention.


Remember, each person’s journey to recovery is unique. These additional topics aim to provide a more holistic approach to staying sober by addressing routine, triggers, self-reflection, education, goal-setting, mental health, and relapse prevention. Feel free to integrate these suggestions into your existing content while maintaining the personal tone that makes your story relatable and impactful.

So there you have it. Staying away from alcohol-related people and situations, finding someone to lean on, rewarding yourself, connecting with a community and exercising are the 5 methods that kept me on track. Sobriety takes a lot of strength and willpower, but if you follow these 5+ tips it can be a lot easier.

Do you know any other methods to help you stay sober? If you have any suggestions or want to share your own experience, please leave a comment below.