Recovering Alcoholic Behaviors that Lead to Long Term Sobriety

recovering alcoholic

Behavioral change is the key to enjoying long-term sobriety.

An alcoholic cannot be helped without admitting a problem, booking into a reputable rehab center and staying through the treatment. Those who admit to alcohol addiction and go through rehabilitation come out and the battle they have to face on a day to day basis is ensuring they don’t relapse. Here are some recovering alcoholic behaviors that lead to long term sobriety.

Change your environment

Is it insane to do the same thing over and over and expect different results?  Well, I don’t know if it is or not, but that saying is very applicable to recovering alcoholics.  In golf, my buddy Brandon practices the same stroke over and over, wanting it to get better.  Is this insane?  I don’t think so.  But trying to recover from alcoholism isn’t golf, something that thrives on repetition.  No, it’s all about changing behaviors, friends.

Namely, the environment you live in has to be different from what it was before you quit.  Now, an environment is the whole ecosystem, not just a place or location.  It includes friends and influences and activities.

Answer the why

Why what?  Why did you use alcohol in the first place? What happened to you that led you to drink?  I’m talking specifics, here.  Were there particular stresses or insecurities?  Can you cope with these, cutting them off at the root?

Now, you may be thinking that confronting this issue would be scary.  You’d be right.  It’s like Luke Skywalker going into that cave in Empire Strikes Back.  It may entail confronting demons, and that’s scary, but ultimately necessary, and, yes, very worth it. 

Learn new coping mechanisms

Unfortunately, life does not stop challenging you just because it fears you will relapse. Yep, you have to keep learning new coping mechanisms. For me, I moved from Albuquerque to Ohio with my girlfriend, who at the time, had been with me for two years, which was after my recovery.

I settled in to a new heating and cooling business in Ohio.  That was great because I was in a new environment and new place, with a girlfriend who could give me support.  But, a funny thing started to happen.  I started to feel some of the familiar twinges.  The work and the customers would frustrate me for the same reasons, and I would get this dull ache for something more, something I couldn’t define.

I had to stop and look around and see how I could kick things up a notch.  It may sound a bit quirky, but the way I did it was, through one of my customers, I learned about a blind man, Donald, who I now visit once a week to read his bills–he’d paid someone to do this before, that person disappeared, and I decided to do it on a volunteer basis, and this has made me feel a lot better.  I’m not going to get into oxytocin and other doctor stuff–that’s for a different blog. But doing things for others is very helpful!


Folks, we’re at the point in the post where I’m still talking about things I’m not qualified to talk about due to myself not being a doctor or anything else.  But, you know, maybe I am qualified to talk about the benefits of exercise, because I do exercise.  It’s hard for me to get to the gym but I often jog between jobs and sometimes I visit nearby parks where they have those little bars for dips and lunges and all that.  Exercise is exercise, and your body will flood you with yummy endorphins no matter where you are.

Stay away from toxic relationships.

Sometimes you have to make drastic decisions in order to stay sober–even if one of these drastic decisions is cutting certain ties.  Take it from a guy who knows, you may have to end your relationships with some of your drinking ‘ buddies.’   More importantly, though, any relationship that was toxic to you, you should end–the toxicity can fuel drink.

Stay committed to your support group

Friends, if staying away from the bad influences is good, maybe it’s also true that staying with the good ones is key!  Where would I be without my girlfriend and without Brandon? They give me key and crucial support, often just by being them.  Now, is it just them and the man I read for? Well, I admit there may be that other person.  You know, my AA sponsor.
I’ve gotten beyond AA but I have a sponsor where I live now and I keep in touch.

So, this isn’t really an exhaustive list. But I give them as a snapshot of what I know, to serve as an indication.  Remember, you have to be a willing and active participant in your recovery.  Nothing will be done without you!

Photo Credit Neil Moralee on Flickr