Ways to Stay Sober When Life Gets Rough

Photo of a man sitting on a brown leather couch and holding his hand on his head

The ups and downs are inevitable in life. When we’re under a lot of pressure, as when we’re going through a difficult time in life, it’s only human to want to let off some steam. After all, we all know full well how stress negatively affects our well-being. In times of stress, we look for ways to relax, distract, or occupy ourselves so that we can temporarily forget about our issues. Unfortunately, a lot of people turn to alcohol or drugs as an outlet. The concern is that this kind of behavior can become addictive if it’s used as a regular coping mechanism for stress, especially in persons who are predisposed to addiction. To help you cope with stress in a healthier way and avoid developing an addiction, here are six simple ways to stay sober when life gets rough.

How to stay sober when life gets rough?

Staying sober is challenging enough when things are going smoothly. Stressful or triggering situations, however, raise the stakes significantly. It’s all but easy to keep your cool under pressure. Your ability to fight urges and ensure that any relapse is only temporary depends on your level of support, commitment, and coping skills.

Two people hugging during a support group meeting

Caption: With the right support and coping mechanisms in place, it’s not that difficult to stay sober when life gets rough.

Alt-tag: Two people hugging during a support group meeting

Maintaining sobriety in the face of adversity can feel insurmountable, but assuring yourself that you can do it is crucial. To help you stay the best version of yourself, we’ve consulted pros from Little Creek Recovery, and they’ve let us in on four simple ways to stay sober when life gets rough.

#1 Have a friend you can rely on for support

It’s not a secret that support groups have been shown to be helpful for those battling addiction to a wide variety of substances. Having a sponsor (someone you may call whenever you feel you might be slipping back into old habits) is crucial to the success of a 12-step program. In most cases, this person has been sober for a while and is also participating in a treatment program

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However, participating in a 12-step program is not required to benefit from having a friend by your side. You should approach a person you hold in high esteem and ask if they would be willing to be your “go-to” friend in times of need. It’s ideal if this person is a substance abuse coach or someone who has successfully completed a recovery program. However, it is also important to build relationships with people who can be relied on for support in a time of need, such as close friends and family members.

#2 Find a self-care practice that suits you

To best prepare you for a substance-free life, addiction rehabilitation therapies equip you with helpful self-care practices. The practice of meditation is widely disseminated because of the benefits it provides to one’s mental and emotional health and personal development. By bringing about cognitive and emotional stability, mindfulness meditation can be an effective treatment for substance abuse. It has also been shown to reduce relapse rates. 

Caption: Meditation is one of the best ways to cope with stress and handle everyday difficulties that life throws at us.

Woman wearing black clothes meditating in the middle of a green field

Even if you find it difficult to meditate, there are many different practices you may adopt as part of a daily routine to help you reconnect with yourself, live in the present moment, and let go of your day’s stresses. There are plenty of other breathing practices that can help you with this, but you can also try the following: 

  • Make a list of goals for the day and analyze your success at the end of the day (start easy, like adding “take a deep breath and drink a glass of water when I feel pressured or anxious” to your list)
  • Use positive self-talk whenever you feel tempted.
  • Go for brisk 15-minute strolls as a stress reliever.
  • Take a relaxing bath/shower before bedtime
  • Write a journal at the end of the day and share all of your feelings.

#3 Stay away from triggering environments

Another great way to stay sober when life gets rough is to keep away from triggering environments. When someone has substance use disorder, their body attempts to counteract the effects of the substance in order to keep them safe from harm. Your body will enter this condition prematurely if it believes you are about to consume the drug, as it does when it expects a toxic dose.

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Environmental clues such as a place you used to use in, people you used to get high with, or equipment like crack pipes, syringes, and wine glasses might all be enough to trigger this reaction. Even long after the effects of withdrawal and detox have worn off, this can occur. 

Therefore, you should stay away from locations that contain any reminders of your substance use, as well as any other areas that may elicit negative feelings. But if you can’t avoid being in a trigger area, at least you’ll know what to expect and can quickly leave if your desires become too much to bear. Meditation and other stress-reduction techniques can be quite useful in this regard. Be aware of your limits, though, and leave the premises if the need to indulge becomes too great to bear.

#4 Consider outpatient therapy

The road to addiction recovery is not short, so it’s not always safe to assume that someone sober for 28 days has fully recovered. Long-term outpatient treatment can help you maintain your resolution and develop into a more powerful person. Mindfulness meditation and other forms of self-improvement instruction are part of several outpatient treatment plans.

Therefore, if you need a safe space, consider sober living as one of your best options. Some outpatient programs only provide intensive schedules. However, plenty of those features more flexible scheduling matching your availability and daily life demands.

Four people high-fiving each other outdoors

Caption: Outpatient treatment is a great option because of all the support and assistance that comes with it.

Alt-tag: Four people high-fiving each other outdoors

We do appreciate that, after a number of rehab stays, it’s easy to develop a negative attitude about rehabilitation. However, counseling is still that secure place where you may look at yourself in the company of someone who cares about you and accepts you as you are. Since your therapist has been there for you throughout your sober journey and is still on your side, counseling is the perfect place to let loose, relax, and check in with yourself constructively.

The bottom line

We won’t lie – even if you have been sober for years, there will still be times when you’ll feel tempted to use again. So when that happens, please turn to the methods from this article, as they’ll help you stay sober when life gets rough. And for anything else, you can always turn to healthtipslive.com. There you’ll find tips and advice that will help you stay sober and be the best and healthiest version of yourself.