maintaining long term sobriety

Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

Maintaining Long Term Sobriety

Table of Contents

How To Stay Sober?

There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into getting sober. From intensive drug treatment to attending sober support groups and beyond. However, the REAL work is maintaining long-term sobriety. Daily living presents many challenges for a recovering addict, and it can be easy to fall back into unhealthy habits. Maintaining long-term sobriety can be a serious challenge, with its ups and downs, however an extremely rewarding process that allows you to grow as a person.

Maintaining long-term sobriety requires a determined mindset, and a willingness to change the destructive course of a life of substance abuse. The following are some essential tips that will help guide your road to recovery and help strengthen your passion and commitment to staying sober. While your journey won’t be easy, implementing these steps into your individual recovery plan will significantly reduce the risk of relapse.

Key Elements For Maintaining Long Term Sobriety

Building Resilience

Let’s face it, life can be hard. The biggest challenge in maintaining long-term sobriety is finding ways to handle adversity. Daily living worries, family issues or other concerns, you can find your resolve hanging by the slimmest of threads. The key to long-term sobriety is to find healthy ways to build resilience so you can weather the storms that come your way.

You can build resilience by turning to your support system. Attend meetings, work with your sponsor and reach out to supportive family and friends during those tough times. Additionally, you need to put your life and coping skills to work when daily stressors create cravings to use drugs and/or alcohol. Putting these measures into action proactively will build strength and resolve.

Delayed Gratification

The addicted mind can be a powerful and difficult force to contain at times. For someone struggling with substance abuse, desiring the immediate gratification that comes from their substance of choice can linger long after they quit using drugs. Drugs and alcohol are often used as an escape, to change the way we feel. When sober, we may still seek ways to find that escape in other ways or forms. While you may not necessarily turn to substances, you may engage in other activities that are impulsive, reckless and a danger to your overall wellbeing.

Long-term sobriety in many ways hinges on the ability to delay gratification, realizing that doing the hard work and facing the issues we want to avoid pays off in the long run. Delaying gratification in recovery is about doing what we know needs to be done without worrying about the outcome of focusing on trying to make things easy. Know that when you put in the work-life eventually gets easier while when we take shortcuts or avoid what we need to address in our lives, life can get really hard. Developing the ability to take the actions you know are necessary in your life, even when it feels uncomfortable will go along way in helping to maintain long-term sobriety.

Find Hobbies

Finding hobbies and other healthy outlets is one of the main life and coping skills you learn while in treatment. Being able to put energy into a pastime or activity will keep you productive, your mind active, and away from the triggers that may lead to relapse. This is a great time to rekindle your passion for activities that you used to enjoy before addiction took hold of your life.

However, your recovery is also a great time to find new passions. Be open-minded and try new things. Take a painting class. Enroll in that martial arts class you were interested in taking. You can also tag along with friends and see what activities they enjoy and use exploring new hobbies as a way to establish some new healthy relationships. Who knows…you may enjoy things that you may have not thought that you would like and have fun.


A great way to maintain long-term sobriety is to give of your time to others. In drug treatment, you learned about how crucial volunteering or mentoring is in helping you stay sober. When you give your time, people appreciate you and the care and concern you show. Their feelings of gratitude help you feel grateful. Additionally, volunteering and mentoring give you confidence and a better self-image.

Set Long Terms Goals For Sobriety

An important tip to keep in mind when working towards long-term recovery is to have realistic and attainable goals. While this seems to be a no-brainer, you would be surprised at how many people in recovery do not have clear goals when it comes to bettering themselves in their sobriety. While it definitely is important to keep your mind in the present and focus on one day at a time, you have to know which direction you are sailing your ship.

Goals provide a motivation and direction to do positive things in your life. These goals can be both short- and long-term and obviously can be tailored to your life. An obvious short-term goal is to simply stay sober for today. While that seems easy enough, what steps will you take to get there? You may want to write out how you will achieve those goals, such as attending a meeting, working with your sponsor, going to a workout or volunteering.

Setting goals in this manner is crucial for long-term success. The obvious long-term goal you have is to stay clean and sober, but how are you going to achieve that? Take the time and identify those areas which will help you go in the right direction. Examples of these goals include financial security, finding a new job or losing 40 pounds. No matter the goal, break those long-term goals into manageable pieces that are realistic and easily attainable. Additionally, you should have a realistic timeline in which to achieve these “subset” goals.

Take It Easy on Yourself

As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Recovery is a journey and not a destination. Along your journey, you WILL run into obstacles and adversity that can set you back. When you encounter difficulty in your recovery, use it as a learning tool. Adversity presents the opportunity to learn and get stronger. Have the courage to identify weaknesses and get support in finding ways to making them your strengths.

If recovery is your goal, the first step is to ask for help. With one phone call to NuView Treatment Center, our treatment professionals will create a treatment program that will give you a clear path. Don’t wait another day to address your addiction; call NuView and let us help you become the healthy and happy person you deserve to be.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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