How to Stay Sober: 7 Tips for Living Without Alcohol

Women with a light up umbrella under the stars

Building a healthy relationship with alcohol is something to be celebrated. For many people, that looks like working towards long-term sobriety with online alcohol treatment.  

But what is sobriety? Per the dictionary, sobriety is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of alcohol altogether. While that definition might sound simple, sobriety can hold much more meaning. Achieving sobriety often involves building healthier habits, establishing new coping mechanisms, addressing triggers that lead to alcohol consumption, and beyond. If you’re wondering how to change your relationship with alcohol for good, we’ve put together helpful sobriety tips to guide you along the way. 

As you’re working on maintaining your sobriety, you can utilize these tools for how to stay sober even when it’s especially challenging. It’s also important to remember this: if you experience setbacks, your progress doesn’t go away overnight. You can always continue on the path toward sobriety, even if there are bends in the road.   

1. Evaluate and Address Your Triggers Healthily

One of the most helpful tips for someone navigating sobriety is evaluating triggers. This consists of identifying people, places, and social situations that tempt you to drink, and setting boundaries to limit or address these scenarios.

You may also take the opportunity to replace triggering factors with alternative activities. For example, if happy hours are a common way you engage with co-workers or friends, suggest other social situations like a sober event, coffee date, or outdoor activity as things to do instead of drinking

three people on a hike

Keep in mind, not all triggers are people or places. Stressful situations or circumstances can also lead to a desire to drink, such as: 

  • A job loss
  • Financial troubles
  • Relationship problems 

The frequency and severity of these circumstances can’t always be predicted. However, triggers can have seasonal influences. For example, holiday time and the darker days of winter can result in a unique set of relationship challenges and feelings of isolation. Being mindful of when challenges may arise can help you be proactive in making healthy choices. 

boundaries inventory: saying no without guilt or shame, asking for what I want/need, taking care of myself, saying yes because I want to, feeling safe to express difficult emotions & have disagreements, taking responsibility for my own happiness, not feeling responsible for someone else's happiness

2. Finding Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Additionally, a lot of growth can come from learning how to address triggers with new coping mechanisms. Consider how they make you feel, and actions you can take to process your emotions without alcohol. The good news is you don’t have to face these feelings alone. You can leverage a variety of available tools and resources when overwhelming stressors arise. 

This may include reaching out to a therapist or engaging with an online alcohol support group like those at Monument. When you’re in a vulnerable spot and have a craving to drink, reaching out to others is an incredibly valuable way to stay accountable to your goals and fill time until the craving passes. 

two men high fiving on a roof

3. Surround Yourself with Support

As mentioned, connecting with others can be incredibly helpful as you are working towards maintaining your sobriety. One of the most valuable ways to stay sober is developing strong relationships with loved ones who support your long-term sobriety. It often means reevaluating past connections that prove unhealthy. Just as certain social situations and environments can be triggering, people can be, too. Welcome the ones who appreciate your new path and want to support your growth. 

Connect in a sober community or schedule time to catch up with loved ones who are rooting for your health and well-being. Making meaningful connections will enable you to feel more fulfilled without the need for alcohol and have a network to lean on when you’re looking for some extra encouragement. 

Preventing relapse through self-care

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Furthermore, joining an anonymous, supportive community is a powerful tool for staying sober. There’s a sense of familiarity and camaraderie with people who share similar experiences. 

At Monument, the community is free of labels, judgment, and expectations. You can engage in the way that works best for you, whether that’s listening, sharing, or simply reflecting. Showing up is always enough.

“I love Tammy's groups and the people, now my friends, who show up for group with me. It is a time together that feels supportive, and where I can ask for feedback about questions or challenges I am having right now. I am always glad I have made time to come to group!” - Monument Member

4. Build Healthier Routines

Long-term sobriety often entails forming new habits to align with your goals for a healthier lifestyle and improved wellness. It can be tempting to revert to old habits, especially past drinking habits, when feeling uncomfortable or when confronted with a trigger. However, with healthier coping mechanisms in your toolkit, you’ll be able to navigate challenges with perspective and perseverance, and without any alcohol. 

You can decide what action you’ll take instead of turning to alcohol. Redirecting your time and attention to wellness practices can help you stay sober and move past old habits of alcohol consumption. 

When it comes to building sustainable wellness practices, start by asking yourself: What can I do for five minutes each day to address different aspects of my overall health? You can look for exercise videos or get up and stretch to improve your physical health. Your list may also include journaling to reflect on how you feel and focus on what changes have been the most impactful for you. Journaling is also a helpful way to improve your mental health and appreciate how much you’ve grown. Deciding what actually holds value in your day-to-day life can shed light on what you want to spend more time doing as well as the habits you’d like to let go.

women looking out window

5. Reflect on What Works for You

Identifying what you really want and value in life doesn’t have to happen all at once, and can happen at any time. It can be inspired by a significant life event, like becoming a parent, or smaller everyday desires, like seeking more authentic connections with the people in your life. It’s never too late to re-imagine your ideal self and create a plan to get there. 

Imagining where you want to be and how you’re going to get there is also a great way to set goals for how alcohol does or doesn’t show up in our life. Perhaps you realize drinking in moderation is going to allow you to accomplish all of your goals, or you might decide staying sober more closely aligns with your aspirations. 

While self-reflection and journaling can help you visualize your goals, you don’t have to do it alone. It can be incredibly helpful to discuss setting intentions and goals with a licensed therapist or in a peer support group. At Monument, we meet you where you are to help you get to where you want to be.

6. Find Balance and Create Boundaries 

Changing your relationship with alcohol means different things to different people. For some, it may be addressing and healing from past trauma. (In fact, PTSD and alcohol dependence can often co-occur.) For others, it may be building self-confidence and identifying new ways to socialize while living without alcohol. Focusing on what makes you feel whole is an important part of the recovery  journey. 

Another key component of feeling whole and in-balance is setting boundaries. It’s important to remember that your sobriety is a priority, and that you can create boundaries that put your health and wellness first. Here’s a helpful checklist of ways to set healthy boundaries: 

  • Saying no without guilt or shame
  • Asking for what you want/need
  • Taking care of yourself
  • Saying yes because you want to
  • Feeling safe to express difficult emotions and have disagreements
  • Taking responsibility for your own happiness
  • Not feeling solely responsible for someone else’s happiness

It’s not easy to do all of these things all the time, but implementing these boundaries as much as possible can help you feel more balanced and at peace while navigating living without alcohol. 

man meditating in a field

7. Embrace Mindfulness 

The distraction of social media on top of a busy daily routine can cause you to feel like you’re constantly trying to keep up. Practicing mindfulness can improve your mental health, and is a habit that promotes awareness of how you’re feeling in the moment. You can approach this in different ways based on your preferences and mood.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a great place to start. Rest comfortably and inhale slowly for a few seconds, hold the breath for a few seconds, and then deeply exhale for a few seconds. Repeat this rhythm a few times and embrace the stillness of the moment. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but intentional practice will make it easier every time. Meanwhile, introducing yoga into your life is a healthy way to combine gentle exercise and mindfulness through a guided flow. 

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is another popular technique. It’s intended to bring your thoughts to a central focus and clear the mind. However, mindfulness doesn’t have to just be about meditating. Whatever you choose to do should be fulfilling and fun. It’s about creating moments where you are and remembering to be present. 

Being mindful leads to gratitude and allows you to feel things fully even if something feels painful. Letting those emotions pass through, rather than avoiding them or escaping from them by drinking alcohol, is a healthy habit to practice in your journey.

 

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8. Celebrate Progress 

Practicing long-term sobriety is a rewarding journey, and something to be proud of. Honor and celebrate your progress. Take notice of how far you’ve come. Cheers with a celebratory alcohol alternative (when you’re ready!). Even if you experience setbacks, you’ve still made incredible strides, and can continue on your path. Changing your relationship with alcohol, along with your physical and mental health, should be celebrated often.

Small steps amount to meaningful change, and can sometimes be difficult to recognize and appreciate at the moment. Talking to your support group about your accomplishments, big or small, is an important practice of self-appreciation. Sharing your experiences with others may also be inspirational for those who may be embarking on a similar path. 

woman smiling in a colorful glass room

Embarking on Your New Path

Living a sober life looks different for everyone and it can often take a few tries before establishing a sustainable sobriety practice. There is absolutely no shame in that. It takes self-reflection, navigating challenges and triggers, and developing a sobriety toolkit that works for you. And you don’t have to do it alone. Having immediate access to evidence-based tools and a supportive community can empower you to reach your goals. 

Implementing these tips for staying sober will help you persevere in the face of challenges, and experience the authentic joys and benefits that come with sobriety. If you want support from all angles, Monument is here to meet you where you are, and empower you to get more out of life by living without alcohol.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Sources:

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-alcohol-use-disorder

https://joinmonument.com/resources/faq-about-the-holidays-sober/

About the Author

Team MonumentMonument is an online platform for those looking to change their relationship with alcohol. We connect members to a free anonymous community, therapist-moderated groups, and a collection of resources to provide the support and information they deserve. Members seeking medical treatment are introduced to a licensed physician and a specialized therapist to develop a personalized treatment plan specific to their goals. Monument is affordable, accessible, and research-based, so a healthy relationship with alcohol is attainable and celebrated by all.