8 Common Sober Living Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

sober living mistakes

Justin Orden June 1, 2021

It’s an incredible feat to get sober. It’s within all of us to make the change and establish a healthy lifestyle, but kicking the habit in the first place is just the first step. Staying clean is the second battle. Maintaining sobriety requires just as much skill as getting sober in the first place, and a big part of your success comes from avoiding some common mistakes that tend to hinder people’s progress. We’re going to take a look at sober living mistakes today, giving you some insight into what you can do to make sure that you stay sober after you leave a Los Angeles sober house.

Our hope is that the information below can help to keep you on the right track. 

Let’s get started. 

1. Loosening Boundaries

Getting sober in the first place requires that you set some clear boundaries. 

Never using again is a boundary in itself. That said, a person’s addiction tends to be wrapped up in a network of personal habits and social situations that contribute to their use. Things like social circles, familiar places, thought patterns, and relationships, and more all create that network. 

You know yourself and the situations that surrounded your habit. The challenging thing is that some of those things don’t have an immediate connection to drug use but have a secondary connection to it. 

For example, one of your good friends might not have been someone that you used your drug of choice with. However, that person always hangs around with the familiar crowd that you started using drugs with

They’re still doing the same thing, and you’re sure that spending time with your good friend will lead to moments where his circle of friends will offer you your drug of choice. While the friend isn’t responsible for that opportunity, it’s a good choice to avoid that person unless they can assure you that their friends won’t be there. 

That boundary can be a tough one to set, and the other person might not like it. The circumstances of your life might offer numerous situations like this one. Staying clear on those boundaries is important, even after you’ve been sober for a long time.

2. Leaving a Gap

While you’re in the midst of an addiction, your life tends to be packed with things to do. Even if that means you’re drunk for the afternoon or spending the evening with friends who use, you were still occupied most of the time. 

Sobriety offers a different pace. Things slow down a little bit and you’re faced with a lot of free time at first. It makes sense, too, considering the thing that used to take up all of your time is now absent. 

Leaving that time and energy open isn’t a good idea, especially at first. If you’re left with nothing to do, boredom and reckoning with your past might lead to some difficult mental spaces. 

These spaces are inevitable and they’re important to deal with, but the absence of anything to do isn’t going to help you process things. Try and take on new activities, reconnect with people from your healthy past, or invest in a hobby or trade. 

Whatever it is that you do, try and find healthy substitutes for the time that you would have otherwise been using your drug of choice. 

3. Neglecting Source Issues

Most people don’t wake up one day and decide to have an addiction. The habit comes from a set of life experiences that beg for some kind of relief. Trauma, mental illness, and pain of all kinds are fodder for addiction. 

When you use drugs, you get temporary relief. It makes sense. That said, there are ways to find lasting relief, and most of them involve some kind of therapy or self-exploration. 

Some people aren’t fond of the term, but the common name given to someone who gets sober and neglects the root issues is “dry drunk.” In a lot of cases, the addiction is substituted for a set of other behaviors that aren’t healthy either. 

These other behaviors are healthier than using drugs, but shouldn’t the goal be to wind up happy? Sobriety is an opportunity to shift your life in a happier direction and become the person you’d like to be. 

When you start to uncover and resolve those deeper issues, life might fade into a more enjoyable place where the idea of using again doesn’t seem appealing at all. 

4. Flying Solo

You’re tough! You beat addiction and your life is on track, so why bother sticking to the program? You already did it, and it’s time to move on.

Right?

Well, it might be a good idea to pump the breaks a little bit. Working the program is a process that extends throughout a person’s life. Even if you’ve completed the 12 steps, you still need a network of people to lean on. 

That might just mean that you’re there as support for someone else who needs you. You might have noticed, though, that there are people in meetings that have been sober for decades. 

People who got sober in their 30s and now find themselves in their 70s still come around to meetings. It’s because there’s an insidious nature to addiction, and it hangs around as the last resort in times of trouble. You know that it’s the last thing you’d ever want to do, but moments of difficulty can tweak your mind in strange ways. 

Keeping in contact with a strong support network is essential for recovery, especially when you’re in the first few years. After that point, it’s not a bad idea to keep your feet on the ground with a regular meeting. 

5. Rigidity 

All of the tips above point to living a very rigid post-addiction lifestyle. 

It’s important to be clear with your boundaries and your expectations, but it can be negative to have a rigid perspective on yourself. If you’re feeling very cold and rigid with the way you’re thinking about yourself, try to substitute some compassion

Think about how you would view other people in your situation. Would you scold them for having a dark thought here and there? Would you kick them for failing to figure everything out right away? 

Probably not. 

Instead, you’d see someone who just made an important, very difficult change to their life. It takes time to work out the kinks. It feels like you’re failing at the moment, but a broader view might highlight a positive change. 

You’re making little course corrections to your lifestyle. Those small shifts add up and guide you toward the spot you want to be. You’ll get there a lot faster if you have some patience and compassion for yourself. 

6. Forgetting Triggers

Triggers are very real threats to sobriety. Stress, people, songs, movies, whatever your triggers are, they’re important. 

Make sure you understand your triggers and do your best to prepare for them. They’ll come along when you least expect them to, and it’s crucial that you know how to respond. 

The best way is to prepare for those situations before they happen. Have a plan, have a friend to call, and get through it. 

7. Misjudging Recovery Highs

When you’re out of recovery, you’re going to feel like your former self. 

Except you’ll be older, more capable, smarter, and full of life. The weight off your shoulders allows you to get out and take on whatever the world has to offer. 

That said, it’s important to remember that the bliss and excitement of immediate sobriety are temporary. Everything loses its luster after a while, and you might be left with a lot of responsibilities in the aftermath. 

Taking too much on after recovery is a common mistake. When you feel burnt out from all that responsibility, you’re put in a jeopardized position and might want to use your drug of choice again. 

So, take it slow when you get on your feet. Take on things only when you know you’re ready, and be mindful of the recovery high. 

8. Comparing Your Progress

If you’ve spent some time in sober living homes, you know what it’s like to look at someone who’s doing a little better than you are. Comparison isn’t helpful in these situations. 

Everyone has had a different experience with addiction, as well as different factors that caused their addictions. Your experiences and theirs don’t have a one-to-one value, so it doesn’t make sense to pit your recovery against theirs. 

Your mantra should be to focus on yourself only. Celebrate the success of others and do your best to work your way forward. If you can do this, you might find that you’re a lot further along than you thought. 

Worried About Making Sober Living Mistakes?

If you’re trying to get sober or dealing with fresh sobriety, know that you’re not alone. There are plenty of sober living homes in California that are there to help you move forward. 

We’re here to help you, too. Contact us or explore our site for options, more sober living mistakes, and other resources to help your sobriety. 

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