Making the decision to stay sober is a brave and life-changing choice. It is also a challenge. But by taking the right steps to avoid alcohol in the New Year, you can win the battle and lead a healthier life.

You’ve made the decision. Now you need a plan. A plan to avoid relapsing. According to an article by Warren Thompson, MD, FACP, more than 80 percent of patients who choose to stop drinking wind up relapsing within the first year. You don’t have to be part of this statistic. Use these eight tips to help you create a bigger and brighter future.

1. Surround Yourself with a Strong Group of Sober Friends

If you continue to socialize with your former drinking buddies, you’re more likely to relapse. Few peers may understand your desire to become sober. They might say things like “Oh, come on. It’s Friday. One drink can’t hurt.”

But you know that one drink will lead to two drinks, which will likely lead to doing a few shots. The next thing you know, you’ll be back at square one—you won’t remember weekends and thanks to the need to satisfy your constant craving, weeks will blur by, even blend together. You’ll be frustrated by your inability to master the addiction. It’s important to remember that consuming alcohol doesn’t make you the life of the party.

Surrounding yourself with people who don’t drink can have an enormously positive impact on your decision to stay sober. You can still go out and have a good time, even without alcohol in the equation. Get a group of friends together to spend an evening at the local bowling alley, go see the biggest box office hit, spend a day at the mall. Surrounding yourself with people who won’t pressure or influence you to drink is one of the most powerful steps you can take on your journey to recovery.

2. Spend Time with Family Members Who Support You

One of the strongest support groups anyone who is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction can have is their family. Of course, you may have family members who aren’t committed to staying on the same path, which can cause you to stumble a bit yourself. For some, alcoholism may run in the family. Be careful and spread your time wisely; you shouldn’t spend much of it with those who exhibit poor drinking habits. It’s best to spend time with those in your family who are committed to alcohol-free lifestyles, who support your life-altering decision, in order to ensure you avoid relapsing.

3. Find a New Hobby or Creative Outlet

One of the first things you’ll realize when you stop drinking is how much time and money you wasted drinking in the past. It’s time to find new activities to fill that time void. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try creative writing. Why not give it a shot? It’s significantly less costly—all you need is a computer or paper and a writing utensil. Or maybe try computer gaming, a great stress reliever. The activity doesn’t have to be anything that will change the world, but it does need to fill up that extra time with something you enjoy, or you could find yourself wandering back out to bars to alleviate your boredom.

4. Spend Less Time with Individuals Not Living the Sober Lifestyle

It’s not always realistic to cut yourself off completely from every peer who drinks. Your best friend may have a beer or two every weekend, and you know how much you enjoy each other’s company when you’ve got nowhere else to be and the work week has come to a close. Sitting by his side and unwinding after a hectic past five days, cursing every driver who cut you off, has become a weekend tradition. But now you have trouble focusing on anything other than the beer he’s sipping while you go off about the new guy at work. It’s time to cut back on that time and toss in some time with other friends or the hobby you’ve taken up.

5. Spend Time Away from Bars, Restaurants and Other Destinations that may Trigger Memories

Not all memories from your non-sober life are bad. In fact, you probably had many great times with girlfriends and peers in bars, restaurants, and other places where you drank. However, you must remember that the health benefits, saved money, new respect, and safer lifestyle far outweigh the positive memories these locations will invoke. Returning to your old “watering holes” will probably leave you with your guard down and susceptible to drinking again.

6. Let Go of All Feelings of Doubt about Your Sobriety

The actress Sigourney Weaver once said, “I feel self-doubt whether I’m doing something hard or easy.” It’s true that we all unjustly doubt ourselves almost all the time and often for no good reason. When it comes to becoming sober, however, doubting your ability to overcome the challenge is nothing short of debilitating. Of course you can do it. You just need to commit to the change, have a plan in place, and then stick to the plan.

7. Spend Time Exercising in Order to Take Care of Your Physical Health

Now that you have decided to live a healthier life by becoming sober, be sure to also start exercising. The first month will be difficult, but once you get into a normal health routine you’re bound to feel better, be more positive, and improve your overall self-image. People will notice that you are taking care of yourself and comment on the positive change, which will also help you stay focused on improving your overall health by staying sober.

8. Keep a Journal to Document Your Journey into Sobriety to Serve as an Outlet

During your transition to sobriety, you’ll be forced to face emotions you most likely spent years trying to suppress by drowning in the bottle. Keeping a journal is an excellent way to document your transition, tracking the progress and struggles you experience during this major life change. Maintaining regular journal entries can also help you better communicate with a counselor who can help you along the road to recovery. It’s also an effective way of alleviating stress and worry.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol addiction, contact High Focus Centers today for more information on how to overcome the battle against alcoholism. Call 1-800-877-3628 or visit our website today to find out how we can help pave a better future for your tomorrow.

Featured photo credit: Photo by: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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