Getting Sober Means Learning Your A, B, C's

Author - JD Meints | January 12, 2015

Change is not easy. Transforming your lifestyle, one that includes drinking and drug use to staying sober will come with its challenges. That's not to say that it's impossible - thousands of people get sober and stay that way for the rest of their lives. However, making different choices, behaving in different ways, and even having different thoughts are going to require your attention, energy, and effort.

Fortunately, the techniques of healing from addiction are becoming more and more standard. Mental health professionals have discovered what works and what doesn't work when it comes to facilitating change in others. For instance, Pathways to Recovery, a book that includes many stories of those who are in recovery and what they needed to learn in order to stay sober. One article provided in the book provides the following information. Just like learning the alphabet will give you the opportunity to speak, write and communicating with others, learning the A, B, C's of change listed below can facilitate true transformation in your life.


According to an online dictionary, an attitude is ""a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person's behavior"". The attitude we have towards ourselves and our recovery is essential. It can support our path to sobriety or it can derail us. For instance, according to Pathways to Recovery , two important attitudes to have regarding your desire to change is hope and courage. Both hope and courage can bring positive feelings to our recovery and nourish our need to change.


It's not just any sort of behavior that change requires. Behavior that is both healthy (versus the unhealthy behavior you might have engaged in during your addiction) as well as courageous. For instance, in order to create change, you've got to step out of your comfort zone. You've got to stretch yourself. Perhaps you've been thinking about going back to school, forming an intimate relationship, or returning to work, but feel fearful. If you're feel the desire and feel that you're ready, don't let fear stand in your way. You can begin to take the steps you need to break through your protective bubble to create the change you want. Behaving in new ways can create change.

Cognition / Thinking

Even when you're no longer using drugs or alcohol, there are still patterns of thought that might have led to the drinking in the first place that are often still in full swing. It's the reason for a term used among the AA community the dry drunk. The negative connotation to this phrase comes from the fact that family, friends, and co-workers must still bear the irascibility, arrogance, and destructive behavior of a recovering alcoholic. Although the substance abuse has come to an end, the destructive thinking might still be present. For this reason, changing your thinking can be a pivotal way to change your life.

The kinds of thinking patterns that are common among new recovering addicts are:

  • Failure to put oneself first before others
  • Dishonesty about the addiction, life problems, and dysfunctional relationships
  • Unrealistic expectations of others and of themselves
  • Tendency to blame others or external circumstances when they are accountable
  • Easily triggered by others' comments and the tendency to take things personally
  • A failure to live up to one's promises and commitments
  • The inability to deal constructively with challenges
  • Lacking maturity
  • The inability to fulfill obligations

However, keep in mind that even when you implement the above suggestions in your life, you are likely still going to need the assistance of others to reach sobriety. Sure, there are many men and women who simply make the decision to stop using drugs and alcohol, and they do. Yet, in the majority of cases, addiction requires sober living treatment. For instance, an addiction has a strong biological component where triggers and cravings for the drug occur almost without notice. Even if a woman has made the decision to end their drinking or drug use, it's easy for a small stimuli to trigger an intense craving. Stress from work, relationship concerns with their husband, family issues, environmental cues, running into old drinking or drugging friends can create an strong desire to use.

If you're in treatment already, the ABC's of change can support your path to getting sober. And if you're considering treatment, the above suggestions can be the powerful tools for change, tools that you can carry into treatment when you're ready.

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