Updated: Jan 14
Making the transition from addiction into a sober lifestyle requires hard work, life skills, and the ability to cope with challenges as they arise. After completing rehab, some sober people may find themselves struggling to overcome certain setbacks that make it difficult to remain sober. This struggle can lead to overwhelming feelings of anxiety, depression, and even full-blown relapse.
Often, relapse is a result of a lack of resilience; an essential skill for anyone in recovery. If you’re newly sober and you’re struggling to survive the day-to-day sober, taking steps to develop your resilience may help you learn how to cope with the daily challenges of sobriety and break free from the cycle of chronic relapse.
What is Resilience?
Psych Central defines resilience as the ability to adapt to difficult circumstances or life events.1 In other words, if you are resilient, you can bounce back and recover from challenging life circumstances such as addiction, trauma, or financial problems. Instead of getting stuck in a bad place, you’re able to move forward and learn from the experience.
Resilience is something everyone has. Even if you don’t feel like you’re able to cope with your cravings or triggers, you do have the ability to overcome those things and stay sober. Resilience is a skill and you can work to increase your resilience in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Why is Resilience Important in Recovery?
Achieving a life of sustained sobriety is about so much more than just abstaining from drugs or alcohol. Addressing the underlying issues like self-esteem problems, trauma, or lack of coping skills is what will ultimately lead to long-term sobriety.
Resilience and recovery go hand-in-hand. Engaging in long-term addiction treatment, establishing a sober support system, and simultaneously working to develop life skills like resilience will bolster your sobriety and strengthen your ability to cope with life challenges that could otherwise derail your sobriety.
Anyone in recovery who lacks resilience is much more likely to relapse because they’ll inevitably face hard times that will challenge their sobriety and they may not have the tools to handle it. Being able to work through challenging circumstances is often the difference between lasting sobriety and relapse.
10 Ways to Develop Resilience in Sobriety
There are many ways you can work to develop resilience in your daily recovery. Whether you’ve been sober for a few days or several years, here are 10 ways to develop resilience in sobriety.
1. Make sober connections.
Continuing your addiction treatment by enrolling in a sober living programme or aftercare will provide many opportunities to establish sober, supportive, and healthy relationships in recovery. Regularly attending community support group meetings like AA or NA is also a great way to make sober connections.
2. Start viewing challenges as an opportunity to improve.
Instead of viewing relapse, financial difficulties, or relationships problems as personal failures, consider how these challenges can help you improve personally. Although life is full of challenging circumstances, how we approach them makes all the difference.
3. Accept that you don’t have control over everything.
There will always be things in life that you can’t control and that’s okay. As a healthy, sober person in recovery, having resilience will allow you to cope with the stress and find ways to make it through difficult times without giving in to the temptation to use drugs or alcohol as a crutch.
4. Develop personal goals and work toward them daily.
It’s important to have goals to work toward, even if they are small. For example, making your bed each morning, meditating for 10 minutes each day, or meeting with your sober coach once a week are all goals you can prioritise daily and weekly.
5. Take action.
When hard times come, rather than retreating into isolation or taking up the victim mentality, take positive action to resolve the issue or work through it. Having a proactive mentality will help you overcome feelings of defeat and self-loathing that could lead to relapse.
6. Actively seek opportunities for personal growth.
Even in the midst of a difficult situation, ask yourself how you can grow from it. It’s not always easy to find the silver lining, but adverse situations like financial problems, relationship struggles, or personal loss often offer opportunities for personal growth and healing.
7. Believe in yourself and your abilities.
Having confidence in your ability to stay sober and live a healthy, happy life goes a long way. Although it takes time to develop confidence, surrounding yourself with supportive, sober people will also help you learn how to trust yourself and be secure in your ability to solve problems, overcome adversity, and live sober.
8. Maintain a level head.
It’s easy to blow things out of proportion, especially when your judgment is clouded by drugs and alcohol. In sobriety, it’s perfectly okay to experience every single emotion, but the way you choose to act in response will determine whether you stay sober or give in to the temptation to use again.
9. Practice self-care.
Taking care of yourself physically and mentally has many benefits in a life of recovery and will help ensure that you’re prepared to face difficult situations in sobriety. Prioritizing self-care in recovery will also give you more energy to help others, improve your productivity, encourage self-discovery, and help you focus on the present moment instead of your past.
10. Nurture spiritual practices.
Spiritual practices like meditation or yoga can help you restore hope and peace in good and bad times. These practices can also keep you grounded and resolve lingering negative emotions that are holding you back from reaching your full potential in sobriety.
How a Sober Living Programme Can Help You Develop Resilience in Recovery
Sober living programmes offer many benefits for people in recovery who lack resilience or other life skills.
Sober living programmes provide opportunities to connect with other sober people.
Sober living programmes offer practical recovery support services like employment and education assistance to help you establish a new life.
Sober living programmes require commitment to a life in recovery and dedication to a structured schedule and healthy habits.
Sober living programmes provide accountability.
Sober living programmes encourage responsibility and personal growth in recovery.