12 Ways to Stay Sober in 2012

We just made it through trying to stay sober during the holidays. Whether we passed with flying colors or struggled, it’s a new year and we can stay sober, no matter how difficult, day by day.

Here are 12 ways we can enjoy, rather than endure, sobriety every day in 2012.

1. Plan for Success

Attitude is the number one contributor to success. Focus on all the good things in your life now. Give recovery your all; be open to helpful suggestions.

2. Keep a Journal

You don’t have to write ten pages, or even spell everything right to keep a journal. It might seem silly, but journal entries can be a great tool to help you meditate on your recovery, noting situations to avoid, jotting down highlights, keeping track of activities that help you stay sober and more. The best part is that when you are struggling, you can look at older entries and be encouraged with how far you’ve come.

3. Take it One Day at a Time

Remember the SMART acronym for goals? (You know, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) So, staying sober for the rest of my life sounds impossible! Instead, wake up every morning and remember that staying sober is your number one goal for the day.

4. Be Prepared to Want to Drink

It’s not healthy to think about wanting to drink. You will try to rationalize just one drink and convince yourself you can stop. But let’s face it: alcoholism is a powerful disease, and we will be tempted to drink, in which we often forget the consequences. The only way to overcome is to be prepared for it. Remember your goal for the day? You don’t have to drink today. You’re committed to being sober, so run away and get your mind focused on something else.

5. Serve Others

“The secret in life is that thinking about and helping other people brings the greatest joy in life.” Be selfless. Did you read that article on Tim Tebow about how he befriends a needy family every week? You can help and encourage those who are struggling with addiction. Invest your time in other people’s lives, especially family and friends, and your selfish desire for alcohol will get buried.

6. Stay Busy

Along with serving others, stay busy with fun, healthy activities and traditions. Try playing a sport, starting a new tradition (like taking walks after dinner), or taking up a hobby (like photography). Get involved in something you really enjoy.

7. Go to AA Meetings

Sobriety is tough, but you are not alone. It’s easier when you’re around sober and addiction-free people. Maybe make a friend who’s going through recovery and keep each other accountable. Attend AA meetings regularly. It helps to share and discuss our problems with other group members because we grow as we continue to help each other.

8. Remember Addiction

Do you miss it? Think of all the problems you don’t have to deal with now that you are sober. Any time you are struggling, meditate on all the reasons you like being sober. Here are a couple:

  • “no more being broke”
  • “no more cutting short time spent with the kids because I need a drink”
  • “no more shame”

9. Take Care of Yourself

You have come a long way and have stopped abusing your body with alcohol, but do your best not to abuse it with anything else, like poor nutrition and high stress. Take at least a couple of minutes to relax from the demands of the day. Set goals for your health–like 20 minutes of physical activity three times a week, or fast food only once a week or month. A healthy lifestyle is vital to recovery.

10. Continue to Change

Usually we don’t like change because we’re comfortable with where we are, but we need to realize that change in recovery will turn out for the better. Set aside time specifically for recovery and keep learning and applying the tools that help you.

11. Caution: Party!

Ugh… to go or not to go? We enjoy parties, but is going worth the risk of relapse? Absolutely not, so if you don’t feel comfortable going, don’t go. Instead, make other plans. If you are going though, be prepared. Here are a few of ways to help:

  • Take your recovery friend, or another AA friend with you
  • Bring your own favorite non-alcoholic (of course) drink
  • Always have this drink in your hand, so people don’t offer you something else
  • Leave anytime

12. Create a Relapse Plan

Relapse is serious, so we need to do our best to prevent it. Set up a plan that will help you when you are on the verge of relapse, so you will not give in. Some things you can do include:

  • Call your recovery friend
  • Call AA friends
  • Call a family member
  • Go to a specific place –church, library (something that helps you and is practically impossible to follow the urge)
  • Do something that will get the craving off your mind