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A Guide to Sober Living

Getting clean from drugs and alcohol is a major achievement, but, while the milestone of graduating rehab deserves applause, that feat always comes with a warning. Detoxing and staying abstinent through the rough early days of sobriety is only the start of the journey, not the destination, as much hard work still lies ahead. In fact, a 2011 American Journal of Public Health study finds that recovering addicts are ten times more likely to relapse when they avoid aftercare services and support groups[1]. In short, the best way San Diego’s recovering addicts can safeguard their recoveries is to follow a few guidelines straight out of the gate.

Do Not Fly Solo

A Guide to Sober Living

After rehab ends, one of the first steps to take is to build a sober support system

San Diego residents who quit drugs and alcohol often face a void that demands to be filled. When sober, the centerpiece around which their lives revolved suddenly disappears, and it takes with it the familiar playgrounds and playmates. In other words, if recovering addicts do not find sober ways to entertain themselves after rehab ends, then they have a recipe for disaster. For that reason, addiction experts recommend that people who leave rehab should commit to a defined course of aftercare.

After rehab ends, one of the first steps to take is to build a sober support system. According to a 2006 article published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, self-help groups provide friendships and boost coping skills, two key building blocks of long-term sobriety[2]. Other members of a support team can include the following people:

  • Sober friends and family members
  • A 12-Step-based program with a “home group”
  • Sponsors
  • Certified counselors or therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists or other mental health practitioners
  • Members of the clergy or spiritual advisers
  • Religious or spiritual group programs
  • Wellness experts
  • Recovery “coaches”
  • Sober companions

San Diego residents may find many great benefits when other people support their recoveries. For instance, having someone to use as a sounding board can help you identify your feelings and gain clarity in the early, tumultuous days of sobriety.

Do Not Just Sit There, Do Something!

The haze of addiction can make it difficult to see clearly; in fact, many of San Diego’s recovering addicts do not know how to start building healthy, recovery-friendly lifestyles, even if they deeply want to do so. Their passions and interests have been dulled by drug and alcohol use. If this discussion describes you, then take notice, because boredom, inactivity and sloth are all major risk factors for relapse. Furthermore, appropriately engaging the world around you will energize you mentally, physically and spiritually, which will create fulfillment, joy and a renewed sense of purpose.

  • The kick start to get recovery going may be surprisingly simple if San Diego residents start with what they know, such as sports, activities they enjoyed in school, long-time hobbies and interests that addiction may have ousted. Your family or friends may even be eager to engage certain events and activities with you now that you are sober. Lastly, you could dust off your old goals and pick up the dreams you discarded when getting through the day seemed like challenge enough.

Sometimes, the solution to building sobriety is to start fresh. For example, consider hobbies and activities that you once considered far-fetched. Staying sober can empower you to pursue long-time dreams, like learning to surf, hiking a mountain or running a race. If adopting a healthy lifestyle has been on your to-do list for years, then invite a friend to take classes with you so you can learn how to cook nutritious meals. Other San Diego residents could relieve their anger and frustration by taking up martial arts or by increasing their commitment to physical fitness. Activities like jogging, swimming, climbing or lifting weights all improve the body while also eliminating negative emotions.

One note of caution: San Diego residents may want to avoid sports that generate unhealthy anger, aggression and/or discomfort. Also steer clear of the following events:

  • Activities and events held in settings involving heavy alcohol and/or drug use, like concerts
  • Hobbies involving people who may undermine your recovery
  • Interests that may trigger memories associated with using drugs
  • Activities that could distract you from your recovery goals

Also, according to an article published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, San Diego residents could build sober lifestyles by exploring expressive arts, like writing and painting[3]. Musical expression (such as therapeutic drum circles) can release emotional trauma; dance therapies can also mitigate the symptoms of depression. One benefit of attending professional treatment is engaging new experiences, but individuals who avoid rehab or who graduated months or years ago can still harness the healing power of these activities as they promote personal growth.

Treatment for San Diego’s Recovering Addicts

If you or a San Diego loved one suffers from addiction, then know that we can help. Admissions coordinators are available at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to guide you to wellness and affordable solutions. You can lead a free, sober life if you call now to take the first step toward sobriety.


[1] American Public Health Association – Community-Based Aftercare and Return to Custody in a National Sample of Substance-Abusing Women Offenders. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2010.300094

[2] Humphreys, K., Mankowski, E. S., Moos, R. H., & Finney, J. W. (1999). Do enhanced friendship networks and active coping mediate the effect of self-help groups on substance abuse? Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 21(1), 54-60. doi:10.1007/bf02895034

[3] An Holistic Approach to Substance Abuse Treatment – Journal of Psychoactive Drugs – Volume 35, Issue 2. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02791072.2003.10400006#.UlhznGR4ZEU