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Whether you've successfully completed an alcohol treatment program or have managed to quit drinking on your own, lasting sobriety is never a guarantee unless you really work at it. Newly sober individuals need to take certain steps to stay sober, and fortunately many of these steps will also naturally enhance their quality of life. After all, when a person is happy and fulfilled, the need to fill any void with alcohol is less. So, it's a win/win.
One of the most important things to do once you stop drinking is to surround yourself with a strong and supportive group of people that encourage your sobriety. Family who understand what you've been through can help be there for you when you are experiencing challenges to your sobriety. It is very likely that a person's alcohol abuse has caused them to neglect their family or familial obligations, so this can be used as a time to heal these relationships and make them even better than they were before.
The influences in one's life that were a part of their drinking problem, and perhaps encouraged it, may need to be eliminated completely. This doesn't mean you need an entire new set of friends and companions, but alcohol and bar related activities are not something that are going to help you with your transition to a sober lifestyle. You're going to have to see who will stick around for interests and activities that don't revolve around a bar and heavy drinking. Many people find that when you take alcohol out of the picture, they have very little in common with their former "drinking friends" anyway. There are friends that will stick by you and encourage your new sober lifestyle, by participating in alcohol free activities that are even more socially stimulating and rewarding. These are the ones you'll want to keep around.
Newly sober individuals, particularly those who have completed an alcohol treatment program, can also benefit from aftercare therapy. Aftercare is often offered by the alcohol treatment program, or a referral can be made to an aftercare program that is suitable for the client. Just because someone has completed treatment, they should not be overly confident that they will be able to remain sober without taking such measures. Aftercare therapy can include regular visits once or twice a week for group and individual therapy, but can also be used as an opportunity to reinforce what a person has learned in rehab that helped them get sober in the first place. Aftercare can provide newly sober individuals with a healthy outlet to talk about their challenges and find solutions for them. It can also be an outlet to discuss one's positive progress, successes and achievements which are equally important to acknowledge and applaud.
Once drinking is no longer something that consumes your time, something else needs to. If your drinking made you lose interest in certain hobbies and pastimes, pick them up again or find new hobbies that can help you get your mind off any cravings you may be having. You may even find that you need to switch jobs to something more fulfilling, or one which helps with the recent decision you've made to become sober. It isn't uncommon for someone who has experienced a tough battle with drug or alcohol addiction to want to become a drug or alcohol treatment counselor for example. But it could be anything that makes the person feel content and productive, and once again have a feeling of self-worth. If someone was a problem drinker and their job puts them at a higher risk of relapse, such as someone who is a bartender for example, perhaps this isn't the right field for them. Just as some relationships affect your sobriety, so do environmental factors such as this.
Good news is, you don't have to wake up hungover any more. Once you have stopped drinking, it's time to start taking care of yourself from the inside out. Getting back to the basics such as a good night's rest, a healthy diet and regular exercise can make a world of difference. Exercise and the sweating caused by vigorous exercise releases endorphins that can give you a "natural high" so to speak. This can help ease the cravings and anxiety that many people experience after they stop drinking. Exercise can also greatly enhance your chances of getting a good night's sleep if you are experiencing sleep difficulty, while also helping to relieve stress, depression, anger and other emotions you may experience while adjusting to a sober lifestyle. It's a healthy outlet, so use it. For anyone experiencing serious health complications because of their drinking or otherwise, consult your primary care physician or perhaps a certified nutritionist before you start any type of new diet or exercise regimen.
The suggestions mentioned above can help immensely, but relapses can still happen. If you do experience a setback whether big or small, it doesn't mean you have failed. It doesn't mean you now have an excuse to go all out. It doesn't give you an excuse to give up. The wrong thing to do is let a setback throw you back into your old patterns of abuse. So, if you do experience a relapse, get help right away and don't the problem get any worse. Even if you have to start again at square zero, it's a new day and a new start that you are absolutely in control of.