Are You Recently Sober? Set Yourself Up for Success Using These Tips
Whether you've recently gotten sober or you've been working on your sobriety for a while, temptation can be an issue. If you struggle with substance use disorder, maintaining your sobriety may feel like an ongoing challenge, but there are steps you can take to stay sober. Consider the following tips from the experts at Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH).
Use the ACCT Acronym
Shunda McGahee, MD, CGP, the Medical Director of Ambulatory and Community Services for Beth Israel Lahey Health Behavioral Services, created the ACCT acronym to set her patients up for success. ACCT, which stands for accessibility, craving, contact, and timing, can help you maintain your sobriety if you struggle with substance use.
Determining accessibility means evaluating how readily available your substance of choice is to you. To put yourself in the best position to make healthy choices, you want to limit your access to substances as much as possible.
Consider asking the following questions:
Are there substances in my house?
Am I going somewhere in which I'll have easy access to substances?
Am I spending time with people who use substances?
If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," make changes to reduce your access.
Cravings can be hard to ignore, but there are ways to control them. "The worst cravings last two to three minutes," says Dr. McGahee. "So, if you can bide your time for two to three minutes, you can get through it."
Try these distractions to get through a craving:
Ask friends or loved ones to distract you
Have a treat
Find a pleasurable activity to engage in
Watch a funny video online
Think about the people you're in contact with frequently. Ideally, you want to surround yourself with people who support your goal of maintaining sobriety and help you avoid using substances. This means friends, family member members, peer supports, recovery group members, and/or your sponsor, if applicable.
"If the quality of your sober relationships outweighs the quantity of your substance-using relationships, you can be successful," says Dr. McGahee. "Think about who you're in contact with. Are you spending time with people who will encourage your sobriety or not?"
Particular times of day pose higher risks for substance use for some people. Whether you're anxious in the morning or bored at night, you'll want to identify those feelings and those times and cope ahead. Make a plan to distract yourself to avoid turning to substances.
You may want to try:
Taking a bath
Learn How to Say "No"
"No" is a complete sentence. You should never feel as if you need to offer anyone a reason for why you're not drinking or using substances. Just saying "no" is enough, even if you have to say it more than once.
Learning to say "no" is an important step when it comes to maintaining your sobriety and staying healthy — and you may need to get comfortable saying it often. Limiting the amount of time you spend at events involving alcohol can also be helpful, especially when you're in early recovery.
Are you struggling with sobriety? Learn more about Behavioral Services at Beth Israel Lahey Health.