Tips from Experts on Maintaining a Sober Life

Rehabilitation isn't a magical cure-all to combat addiction. It is, however, part of a process that means your road to successful addiction recovery is well underway. If you or someone you love has struggled with addiction, committing to sobriety presents the best chance for living your happiest, healthiest life.

Research shows most relapses occur within the first six months of treatment, but for anyone struggling with addiction, there's a possibility of relapse whether you're six months or six years sober. Because of this, it's important to continue your positive development after rehab. Here are five tips from addiction recovery experts on how to continue sobriety long after treatment.

Avoid triggers

Avoiding triggers means staying away from the people, places, emotions, and things that once led you to use and abuse a substance.

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"The key to maintaining a sober life is being able to identify these triggers and develop more adaptive ways to cope with these experiences rather than using," says Amanda Brown, a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at New York Presbyterian Hospital. "Identify coping strategies that are accessible, convenient and reliable. ... It's also important to equip yourself with more than one way to cope."

Establish a routine

Begin new hobbies, meet new friends and focus on other positives that will further your recovery and sobriety. You will realize you have more time for these things because you aren't constantly thinking about a substance or acting on those impulses to use.

"People fresh out of treatment should begin to work on establishing sober routines and patterns," says Dr. Rachel O'Neill, a licensed professional clinical counselor. "In early recovery, it is important to avoid common triggers to relapse, including people, places and things. It can be especially helpful to surround oneself with people who are good sources of sober support."

Rely on your support system

Maintaining a positive support system is a major key in yourbriety. Speak to your friends, family, and sponsors through support groups when you're feeling any urges. It's important to go to these people to celebrate your accomplishments as well.

"Maintaining a sober social support system is important," says Dr. Moe Gelbart, Ph.D, Director of Practice Development at Community Psychiatry. "Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most prevalent such network, but not the only one. Trying to maintain sobriety without others is difficult."

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