Sober living means living drug- and alcohol-free. It is a simple concept in theory, but it is far from a simple path. Living sober, especially in the face of substance addiction, takes time to achieve. It requires an everyday commitment, care, motivation, self-respect, a strong support system, and a vast array of coping skills to succeed. In many cases, it also requires professional intervention and a dedicated space to heal. For this reason, many people turn to drug treatment and sober living homes to start their path.
If you are new to recovery, you may know the challenges of sober living first-hand. Whether you have just started a treatment program, or have just graduated, there can be many obstacles that distract, or tempt you away from, living that sober life: stress, self-doubt, sadness, anger, trauma. Difficult cravings, withdrawal symptoms, even complex relationships. If you are in an outpatient treatment program, or have recently gotten back into routine life, you may also be faced with parties and peer-pressure from old friend groups. All of this leading you to question, “Can one actually live a sober life?”
Is Living a Sober Life Possible, After Struggling with Addiction?
According to Turnbridge’s most recent outcome study, the answer is yes. From June 2014 to 2016, we tracked every discharged patient that completed our long-term treatment program. Of those that completed 270 days (nine months) of treatment, more than 95 percent remained sober for one year. 80 percent of those who achieved one-year of sobriety, went on two achieve two years of living sober.
The takeaway here is that a sober life is very much possible after addiction. But if you want a lifetime of sobriety, know that it will take time to get there. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, along with many other clinical experts, agree that long-term addiction treatment results in the most successful recovery outcomes. Nine months of treatment at Turnbridge, for example, can mean long-term sobriety for those ready to make that commitment.
Now you may be wondering, how is that possible? Sobriety is no easy feat. But the thing is, once you start living sober (and we mean, truly living sober), you will gain a greater hold on your life. You will feel healthier, both physically and mentally. You will start living a life of positivity, and you will reap positive results. And because of that, you will want to keep going. You will want to maintain a sober life.
There are so many incredible benefits of sobriety, even ones that may surprise you. You will make more memories, build longer-lasting relationships, develop more energy, gain responsibility and trust, and even save money on the day-to-day. Most of all, you will learn to love and respect yourself. And through that, others will come to love and respect you, too.
Your close friends and family – especially the connections made in your treatment or sober living program – will be essential to your success. These are the people that will hold you accountable, and push you to continue living a sober life. When you get a craving, you can call them to talk about it. They are there to help you get through it, because they know you are capable of rising above.
In your recovery, you will also rely on a toolkit to keep you on a sober path. Your toolkit may include:
- The coping skills you learned in treatment
- Healthy eating and meal planning
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Downtime and relaxation
- The activities you’ve come to love while sober, whether that’s yoga, art, music, sports, restaurant-hopping, or even grabbing coffee with friends
People You Know are Living a Sober Life
Sobriety can feel impossible. At the same time, however, it is in reach. And there are many people out there already doing it, proving it can be done. Many celebrities are living a sober life, right now. Actor Both Russell Brand and Bradley Cooper are 16 years sober. Robert Downey Jr is 17 years sober. Sia is almost eight years sober. Kelly Osbourne is almost three years sober. The list goes on. Here are some other sober celebrities you may know, and be inspired by, as you take this next step:
John Mayer – John Mayer has not had a drink since October 2016. After making a fool of himself at a friend’s birthday event, he realized that his true potential was being lost to partying. When talking of alcohol, he says, “If you look at drinking the way you would look at anything else, which is risk-reward, what am I giving up? What am I getting? It’s some of the worst odds that ever existed.”
Eminem – Through his lyrics, we know that Eminem was addicted to prescription drugs. We know that has faced many challenges and relapses. What many may not know, however, is that he has been living a sober life for many years. On April 21, 2018, he celebrated 10 years sober. And his journey keeps on.
Daniel Radcliffe – Daniel Radcliffe, who is most known for his role as Harry Potter, turned to alcohol after a rapid rise to fame as a teen. He was not able to stop drinking without professional intervention. The star started his recovery journey in 2012, and has been sober since 2016. Radcliffe has said in interviews that his life has felt much less chaotic since, and he’s been a much happier person overall.
Jason Biggs – Famed actor Jason Biggs celebrated his first year of sobriety in October 2018. In his announcement on Instagram, he recognized that the journey is not easy. “I first tried to get sober over 5 years ago, when the weight of my obsession with booze and drugs became too heavy for me to handle… Turns out this s—t is hard. After some fits and starts, I’ve managed to put together one year of sobriety.” He left fans with this: “If you’re struggling, there’s help. Don’t be ashamed. We can do this.”
How to Start Living Sober
The first step to living sober is recognizing that it’s time to make a change. This is half the battle.
The second step to living a sober life is to reach out for help. This may mean calling up a friend, family member, loved one, or a trusted doctor, coach, or teacher. This may even mean reaching out to a professional treatment center for support. Substance addiction can be isolating. It can make you feel like there is no one who can help you through this time. Know that help is out there, and it’s one call away.
Professional intervention is one of the best ways to start on a sober path. Experts recommend long-term and residential treatment programs. Through professional treatment, you can learn how to cope with the difficult emotions, thoughts, and cravings that lead to your substance abuse. Your treatment center will get to the root of your drug or alcohol use, and will help you recognize your relapse triggers. They will teach you how to live a healthy and sober life, through exercise routines, meal planning, and finding fun activities you love. They will also connect you with others in recovery, and encourage you to attend 12-step meetings. Most of all, they will provide you with a safe space to heal, to evolve, and to learn, away from outside pressures.
When you are ready, you can transition into a sober living home, or “halfway house.” This is a residential environment that allows you to live sober, safely, with other likeminded individuals on the same journey as you. Similar to what you had in treatment, sober houses offer a structured living environment.
According to a recent study about sober living, individuals who live in formal, sober environment (such as transitional, sober living homes) significantly reduce or stop their substance abuse within months of moving in, and maintain those improvements at 6, 12, and 18 months. Specifically, 6-month abstinence rates improved from 11% at the start, to 68% at 6- and 12-months in.
Is Living a Sober Life Possible for You?
Yes. Getting sober may be tough, but living sober can open you up to a world of potential and purpose. In fact, sobriety could be the key to living your life fully, at last. For more expert advice on living sober, do not hesitate to check out our blog article, “Three Tips for Sober Living.” If you would like to get started on your sober path, but are unsure where to start, do not hesitate to reach out. Turnbridge is just one call away. Dial 877-581-1793 to learn about our substance abuse treatment programs for young men and women.