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What It Takes to Stay Sober

If you’ve already gone through addiction treatment, and you’re sober, then the task now is to stay that way. However, it can be a challenging journey if you’re still facing obstacles in life. Ideally, addiction treatment would help remove any obstacles to relapse, but that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s possible that you left treatment in a good place, but as the days passed, more and more challenges began to arise, making the task of staying sober a more challenging one. This article will explore the major obstacles that people typically face which prevent them from staying sober.

One factor that can make staying sober difficult is the presence of a mental illness. If you have depression, anxiety, or severe mood swings, which might indicate Bipolar Disorder, then that mental illness needs to be treated. It’s very possible to have a mental illness without knowing it. You may be experiencing symptoms that you didn’t know were associated with a mental illness. If you were using substances, such as alcohol or drugs, as  way to cope with challenging feelings or thoughts, then it’s possible that you may be struggling with a psychological disorder. If you have any suspicion at all, it’s important to see a mental health professional. He or she can determine whether or not you have a psychological disorder, provide  you with a diagnosis, and an appropriate treatment plan. When a mental illness is being treated, a person is more likely to notice the effects that illness had on his or her psychological state and how that contributed to substance use.

Another obstacle to staying sober is not having all of your basic needs met. If you do not have secure housing, money to buy food or clothing, or resources to tend to your physical and emotional needs, this too can make it difficult to stay sober. When you have to bear the stress of meeting survival needs, this pressure can cause severe anxiety, which can lead to cravings, and in turn, to relapse. If you’re in this situation, focus on meeting your basic needs first. This alone can keep the cravings at bay. To do this, you may need to gather the support of family, friends, and professionals in your community.

Another obstacle to staying sober is whether you’ve experienced any early trauma and if that trauma has been resolved. If you were a witness to domestic violence, for example, or experienced abuse as a child, it could be those early experiences are still affecting your psychological health. Similar to the presence of mental illness, the presence of early unresolved trauma can create unwanted cravings and lead to relapse. In this case, you may want to consult a psychologist or a therapist for assistance.

Lastly, another common obstacle to sobriety is ambivalence. Ambivalence is the experience of wanting to quit, but at the same time, not wanting to quit. Perhaps you want to quit because you know that your addiction is creating serious harm to your mind and body. However, perhaps you don’t want to quit because drugs and drinking is how you and your spouse connect with one another. If you quit, you’re not sure whether the marriage will last. When someone is on the fence about quitting, that lack of commitment may lead to having cravings and relapse. The best way to work with ambivalence is to see a therapist, drug counselor, or psychologist on a regular basis. He or she can help you weigh the pros and  cons to quitting or continuing to use.

This article has addressed the most common and most challenging obstacles to staying sober. If you’re faced with any of these situations, contact a mental health provider for assistance.


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