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Self Care in Sobriety

Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

5 Ways to Practice Self Care in Sobriety

Table of Contents

For individuals who suffered from addiction for many years, recovering from a substance use disorder is one of the most important battles they’ll ever face. It takes significant time, work, and serious commitment. The recovery process also never ends; addiction is a chronic health condition that must be continually managed. Because treating substance addictions is a lifelong journey, it is important for individuals in recovery to take it seriously — but take care of themselves as well. In fact, self care in sobriety is part of recovery.

Long Term Recovery from Substance Use Disorders

There are no quick fixes for addiction. When a person begins their recovery journey, it is essential for them to develop the life skills they need in order to stay sober over the long term. In many cases, the best way to do so is to enroll in a treatment center. Outpatient rehabs can help people develop new coping skills to better face common triggers. This can help people avoid the biggest danger: relapsing on drugs or alcohol. Outpatient rehabs also help people learn basic life skills, help them develop more structure, and even improve their relationships with family members and other loved ones.

It is important to recognize that the goal of recovery isn’t merely maintaining physical abstinence. Quitting drugs and alcohol is merely the first step in a process that continually provides gifts, including better employment prospects, more fulfilling relationships, and better emotional and physical health. While enrolled in outpatient treatment programs, clients learn to practice self care so that they can not only stay sober — but develop joyful and fulfilling lives.

How to Self Care in Sobriety

Practicing self care in sobriety is important for everyone, but it is all the more important for people who suffer from substance addictions. Practicing emotional and physical self care techniques can help people avoid stress, improve their physical health, and stay grounded and level headed. This significantly reduces the likelihood of relapse, and it also allows people to live the lives that they were unable to live when they were abusing drugs and alcohol.

1. Exercise

During active addiction, most people do not take care of their bodies. They may suffer from lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and even dangerous illnesses from chronic drug abuse. During early recovery, it is important to get treatment for any health conditions that present immediate threats. Over the long term, however, cultivating healthy habits is likely to reap the biggest returns.

Exercise has a significant effect on not just physical health, but mental health as well. Research shows that individuals who engage in cardiovascular exercise have lower rates of depression and anxiety. It also reduces the number of drug cravings and compulsions individuals in recovery experience on a day-to-day basis. Combined with healthy eating habits and a consistent sleep schedule, exercise can improve health and strengthen recovery. It can also be a great way to make new friends!

2. Getting Proper Sleep

The vast majority of Americans do not get enough sleep. People who abuse drugs and alcohol often suffer from even worse sleep problems, since recreational drugs disrupt the circadian rhythm that is responsible for regulating the sleep cycle. During early recovery, sleep may not come easily, especially for individuals who used alcohol or drugs to help them fall asleep. Over time, however, proper sleep will become more achievable — and it is likely you will sleep far more deeply than you did during active addiction.

Research indicates that people who are sleep deprived suffer similar cognitive impairments to those who are drunk. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one night without sleep is equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10%, which is more than the legal limit for driving. It is no surprise, then, that lack of sleep can lead to relapse and other negative consequences associated with poor judgment. So don’t feel guilty for taking that extra nap during the day!

3. Make Use of Aftercare Services

Addiction treatment isn’t over after graduating from a rehab program. Many people benefit from continuing to pursue recovery via aftercare programs.

Many outpatient programs offer alumni support groups and ways to stay involved. It can also be helpful to get involved in substance abuse support groups or a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. At NA meetings or AA meetings, individuals at all levels of recovery can practice new coping behaviors, learn new self care techniques, and process difficult emotions in the company of others who understand. Moreover, these programs do more than just help with recovery from alcohol and drug addiction — they help members build their social support networks.

4. Practice Self Care By Seeing Friends

It may not seem obvious, but sometimes the best way to take care of yourself is to spend time with others! It is important to create a peer support network that consists of others in recovery. Those who have more time in sobriety can offer support as you face the inevitable challenges of rocky moments of early recovery. 

Research shows that people who have a stronger peer support system not only have better mental health, but they are less likely to relapse in the years after graduating from a formal addiction treatment program. But the importance of friendship extends beyond mood regulation and addiction recovery: friends in recovery make it easy to do fun activities in sobriety. Meaningful connections are a source of joy — and one of the great gifts that sobriety offers.

5. Engage in New Hobbies

It is important to have fun in recovery! This can be difficult at first, since during active addiction most sources of “fun” revolve around intoxication. Instead of going out to the bar over the weekend, one must find alternative hobbies. Fortunately, there are plenty of options that nurture both the mind and body. Take up a new musical instrument, go see a standup comedy show, begin an art project, learn a new language, or simply stay in and play board games with friends! While it might seem at first that these activities won’t feel good without alcohol or drugs, if you engage in these activities with sober friends you’ll find your well being soaring through the roof!

Learn Self Care at NuView Treatment Center

NuView Treatment Center is an outpatient program located in West Los Angeles. Individuals at all stages of their recovery journeys can benefit from our evidence-based treatment programs, which include all levels of care. Our highly trained staff believe that recovery is achieved through compassion and self care in sobriety. Each client has their own individualized treatment program, during the course of which they address underlying issues, including mental health disorders and interpersonal problems. Meanwhile, every day is an opportunity to find more balance in life, develop better self care practices, and build a life in sobriety that is happy, joyous and free.

If you are ready to take your recovery to the next level, contact our outpatient mental health treatment in Los Angeles. Call NuView Treatment Center today.

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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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