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Whether you’ve already been clean and sober for a while or are just starting on your recovery journey, you need a strong plan in place. Staying sober can be just as difficult as getting sober in the first place. Here are 5 tips to help you start, or maintain, a strong recovery.

Educate Yourself on Addiction

The more you understand about how addiction works, the easier it is to overcome. Alcoholics Anonymous describes alcohol as “cunning, baffling, and powerful”. But it isn’t really; if you have an addiction to alcohol (or anything else) the way that addiction manifests and tries to maintain itself can be explained by science.

And if you have had an addiction, knowing the science behind it will also help you understand why abstinence is usually the healthier, and easier, choice than moderation. And understanding what causes your cravings, for example, can help you not give into them.

Find a Fellowship

Attending a Fellowship group can make a huge difference in how you feel during recovery. In my own sobriety, I have spent time both in and out of Fellowships. And I can tell you, it’s much nicer belonging to one.

Even if you’re not struggling with relapse, having a place to share the good and bad of sobriety with understanding people feels amazing. It’s not the same as talking with friends who have never had an addiction. In Fellowships, which are anonymous, it can be easier to be more open, especially about the darker times.

There are many peer support groups available. The classic 12-step groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, remain very popular, but if they don’t suit you, try Smart Recovery, Recovery Dharma, or LifeRing.

Work With an Addiction Specialist

Although some people just use Fellowship groups to stay sober, getting therapy, counselling, or other help from a professional specialising in addiction can make all the difference.

Most people don’t develop an addiction for no reason. There is always pain beneath the decision to alter your reality by using substances and processes to numb, distract, or soothe yourself.

Working through your traumas isn’t always easy, but can really boost your mental health and dull your desire to escape into addiction.

Read Recovery Books and Stories

You can read self-help recovery books which deal with all stages of recovery, from the very first things you need to do to get sober to how to build a brilliant sober life, and everything inbetween.

Reading other addicts’ stories of addiction and recovery can help you find validation, hope, and even give you ideas of what you’d like to add to your recovery plan.

There is no single route to recovery. There is only a framework. Get inspired by people who have enhanced their recovery through sports, spirituality, helping others, writing, and many other interesting things.

Don’t Forget About Your Addiction

When your recovery is going well, it is easy to get complacent and forget how bad things were during your active addiction. People with many years of sobriety can, and do, relapse.

When you feel fine, don’t think you don’t need to do recovery work. Stopping going to meetings or doing whatever else worked to keep you clean and sober is a slippery slope. Now and then, remind yourself of how bad things really were before you got clean and sober.

If you ever feel yourself wobbling in recovery, return to the tips above. Go through the science again, do more meetings, read recovery stories. Add more tools to your recovery arsenal, including seeking more professional help if necessary.

by Beth Burgess, Therapist and award-winning author of The Recovery FormulaThe Happy Addict, and Instant Wisdom.

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