Deciding to Get Sober? Here Are The Steps to Take

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD, MPH

woman looks off into the distance as she contemplates getting sober

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Deciding to be Sober is the Key to Sobriety

Wanting to become sober isn’t enough. You must decide to be sober. You must decide to do anything it takes!

A decision is much stronger than a desire. If you want something bad enough, you must decide it’s time to achieve what you’re looking for. You must decide this is your future. That sobriety is the best thing you could be doing for yourself.

You must decide that the preservation of your life is important to you. You deserve to live!

This guide walks you through the steps to take when you truly decide to get sober.

Call now to ask questions about treatment for yourself or a loved one. Our helpline is free and confidential. Call (888) 906-0952 or submit a question about treatment.

The First Step is Getting Sober

While there are many steps to sobriety, the first step to becoming sober is reaching out for help.

It’s important to create a support system to guide you to sobriety. Most people recovering from addiction include their primary care doctor, therapist, and a close friend or family member as part of their support group. After starting a program such as AA, a sponsor will be added to the list of people who support you.

Later, I will discuss tips on staying sober.

Why Are You Really Getting Sober?

Knowing why you want to be sober is one of the first steps to maintaining sobriety. Each individual is going to have a different reason or motivation for getting sober.

It’s important to get sober for the right reasons and remind yourself daily why you’re getting ready.

You won’t always need an obvious reminder of your why. As time goes on, the why becomes so engrained it’s easy to remember it full time. But it’s still important to keep it in perspective.

Addiction will try to creep back in at the most random times. It likes to hide in a dark corner of your mind and wait for the right opportunity to convince you it’s time to go back to your addiction.

When addiction tries to drag you back, pull out that note of why you want to be sober. Then, call someone in your support system.

You’re taking huge steps to get sober and stay sober. Having a plan for managing stress and cravings can make staying sober easier.

Tips for Staying Sober

Once you have gone through detox, rehab, or another form of treatment, your continued sobriety is up to you. Taking time to understand your limits and put strategies in place is key to your success.

Over time, you will start to learn which situations bring on or increase your cravings. You will even be capable of sensing them ahead of time. This is when it’s crucial to have a plan. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t have a plan, you’re more likely to relapse.


If you didn’t know this before, you know it now. Creating a support group is crucial to your success. This doesn’t mean a 12-step group—although they are incredibly helpful. Having a friend or family member you can rely on, and a therapist is a great start to your support group.

It is critical to building healthy relationships, creating a support system, and having a peer support group such as AA is important to your social life.

Although relationships with family and friends are necessary to your recovery, it’s important to only invest in quality relationships. If you usually spend time with an unsupportive friend or a family member who encourages drinking, it’s important to step back from those relationships.

You should never feel regret or embarrassment for leaving a relationship that doesn’t make you feel good or doesn’t support your recovery.

When it’s time to step away from someone in your life, it’s important to

  • Remove the contact info from your phone
  • Block them on social media
  • Avoid visiting places you know they frequent

Practice Healthy Living

It seems like everybody keeps telling us to be healthy or make healthy choices. But what does that even mean?

Healthy living means more than eating the appropriate number of calories and exercising a certain number of hours per week. Although, these are extremely helpful to recovery.

Healthy living also means investing in self-care. And self-care doesn’t mean expensive, rich things. It doesn’t mean a spa day—although, in some situations, it can.

Self-care means creating a routine for your days. Routines are critical to those in recovery. Relapse prevention programs include creating schedules.

Why is a routine so beneficial?

Because living an unorganized or chaotic life makes it too easy to slip back into using again.

The basics of a daily routine

  • Wake up about the same time every day
  • Go to work
  • Go to your meeting or appointment
  • Schedule time or phone calls with friends/family
  • Take a bath or shower to wind down from the day
  • Go to bed around the same time every day

Healthy living also includes managing emotional extremes. It’s easy to desire a drink when riding an emotional roller coaster. A rehab program helps you learn how and when to control your emotional highs and lows.

It’s also important to stay out of risky situations. If you know you’ll be heading into an area where you’re likely to use it, try to find another way. Try to avoid the store you used to visit for alcohol or the dealer’s neighborhood. These old triggers can hang around for quite a while.

Celebrate Milestones

Have you been sober a day? A week? A month? A year?

Did you go to an event where people were getting drunk and avoided drinking?

Were you feeling pressure from yourself to drink but didn’t drink?

All these moments and more are worth celebrating. Every time you celebrate one of these milestones, you get motivated to work towards the next celebration. Plus, it’s a terrific way to remind yourself why you took the first step towards sobriety.

Just remember, your celebration shouldn’t include drugs or alcohol.

Find an activity that means something to you.

If you go about your day-to-day life without a hobby or an activity of sorts to occupy your free time, you’ll be more likely to relapse. For most people who’ve had an addiction problem, their free time was filled with drugs and alcohol before addiction treatment. They often forget what free time felt like or could be used for when they become sober. Free time can feel extra-lonely and create a trigger of sorts if you have nothing to fill your time.

Having a job is a great first step to keeping your schedule filled. However, a job isn’t everything. Everyone has something to look forward to after work. Some days it’s simply a comfy couch or bed at the end of a busy day. Other times, it’s a good show on TV. But what about your days off? How will you fill your days off?

Here are some fun things you can do alone or with others.

  • Take music lessons
  • Visit a museum
  • Take up a craft
  • Go for a hike
  • Take a workout class
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Read a well-written book
  • Start a home improvement project
  • Take a day trip
  • Volunteer

Staying Sober When You Go Out to Social Events

Staying sober in social events can be tricky for several reasons. It’s easy for triggers to appear in the smallest, most innocent ways.

Here are a few things you can do to stay sober in public

Be the designated driver

Being the designated driver is a straightforward way to stay sober while participating in a group event.

Have Go-To Phrases Ready

If a coworker invites you to get a drink, it will be handy to have pre-scripted responses ready.

Have a support person at events

Attend an event with someone who trusts you to look out for them. Potentially this person is a child who needs both a sober driver and someone to keep them safe.

This person doesn’t have to know they have an official title as “support person.” However, they must know you are trying to stay sober. This helps them ask questions if they see you getting a drink while also allowing a person who won’t push you into drinking or drugs.

Strengthen Your Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are what is used to manage a situation that is creating problems for you.

Having effective coping skills can improve your mental and emotional state. Those who can adjust to traumatic or stressful moments are less likely to be triggered by challenging events.

People who revert to maladaptive coping mechanisms—or have a challenging time using effective strategies taught in rehab—will notice a negative impact on their well-being.

Individuals who struggle to cope with anxiety, stress, or anger risk relapsing. If you struggle with stress and how to how to cope with stress, call us for help.

We’ll help connect to a treatment center where you can learn proper coping mechanisms and support your sobriety. There you can find therapists that will provide support and teach coping skills in a safe, nonjudgmental environment.

Enjoying Life Without Drinking or Using is Possible

Getting sober and staying sober often sounds like a chore. Sobriety surely is a challenging task, possibly the most challenging task you’ll ever take on. However, staying clean and sober doesn’t have to be a drag.

One of the most important things you can do is remind yourself of what you can do instead of focusing on what you can’t do.

It’s possible to have a fun time not drinking when others are. You can still attend events with alcohol if you prepare ahead of time with your therapist. You don’t have to miss out on all the fun. You’ll just be missing the part that always ended with you in trouble.

You deserve to enjoy your time at family gatherings.

You deserve to spend time with your friends.

Ready to seek help? Have questions about addiction treatment? Give us a call at (888) 906-0952

Sources of Information

[1] Drug Use Discussion Points
[2] NIH: Coping Mechanisms

Susana Spiegel

Susana Spiegel

Susana has experience writing about addiction, treatment, mental health, and recovery. She holds a Bachelors in Arts of Theology from GCU, and has a deep empathy for those who are struggling with addiction, as she is in recovery herself.

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