Finding the Determination to Live Sober

Finding the Determination to Live Sober

You will need the help, encouragement, accountability and support of other people to maintain sobriety

When you first recognize that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, the process of recovery can feel overwhelming. You want to find a new way to live, but the idea of going without substances doesn’t look like a reachable goal, even for just a few days or weeks. The idea of living in recovery for life can be discouraging, but doesn’t have to be. A life of recovery can be full of joy, success and fulfillment. The key to unlocking this new, better life is your own determination. Without it, you are likely to relapse and return to your old, substance-using ways. With determination, however, you can experience the life you long to achieve.

Determination: A Stage and Attitude in Recovery

Over 20 years ago, two alcoholism researchers developed a model called Stages of Change that outlined how people went about making changes in problem behaviors such as smoking, overeating and problem drinking.

According to Psych Central, the Stages of Change include:

  • Pre-contemplation – At this stage, a person many not even recognize that he has a problem with alcohol or other substances. He may also rebel against the idea of change or express resignation that change is impossible.
  • Contemplation – At this stage, a person may be willing to consider the possibility of change and that change is good. He is still on the fence, though, and may compare the pros and cons of sober living.
  • Determination – An alcoholic decides or determines to stop drinking. A person may still have mixed feelings about change, but abstinence from alcohol no longer seems impossible.
  • Action – At this stage, an alcoholic puts into action her determination to quit drinking. This often means getting counseling, going to AA, telling family members or friends and even going into rehab of some form.
  • Maintenance – In this stage, a recovering alcoholic has established a sober lifestyle, and the threat of relapse becomes less intense. However, anyone can relapse at any time, so she needs to maintain her
  • Termination – This term can be a bit misleading. While an alcoholic can terminate counseling or help because relapse appears to have become a very minute possibility, relapse can still occur. This stage is ongoing and might better be understood as relapse prevention.

Throughout the last three stages of the change model, determination is necessary, even critical to continued recovery. It is important for Californians seeking sobriety to learn how to develop and maintain the determination to live sober.

Keys to Finding Determination

Determination comes from within. You can’t borrow or use someone else’s determination to get and stay sober. You must decide why you are determined and go back to those reasons time and time again as you face temptations to return to alcohol. If you lose determination, you lose the heart of your recovery — your motivation.

Finding and keeping determination involves:

Goal-setting. You cannot develop determination until you know what you are determined to do. That’s where goal-setting comes in. Without goals, you don’t know what target you are trying to reach. On the other hand, you must have good goals.

According to the Houston Chronicle, successful goals are:

  • Specific – In one sentence, can you describe the desired result?
  • Measurable – How will you know you’ve met your goal? (days, weeks, hours, etc.)
  • Achievable – Do you have the skills, tools and resources (or ability to access those) to reach your goal?
  • Realistic – Is this possible, really?
  • Timely – When can you reach this goal?

In alcohol recovery, it is important to set both short-term and long-term goals. The long-term goal might be “I will not drink for a month.” Later on in your recovery, the long-term goal might be a little larger: “I will abstain for six months.” Once you have a long-term goal, create short-term goals that are necessary to reach that long-term goal. Short-term goals might include finding a sponsor within the week, finding a rehab location, admitting your problem to someone or some other goal that you can reach quickly.

Celebrating successes. According to a 2014 article from Inc., celebrating when you achieve a goal boosts your motivation to get to the next goal. Celebrating goals boosts your confidence, too. It is a way of telling yourself, “Yes! I can do this!” If you don’t stop to celebrate, the road of sobriety will feel unreachable.

Grit. According to a 2011 article from Women’s Health Magazine, grit is a passion for long-term goals combined with perseverance. People who set a goal (or a set of goals) and work toward those goals despite the circumstances are more successful than those who give up. Grit means that you move forward in your recovery even when you fail, even when you seem to hit a plateau, and even when you face temptations to abandon sobriety.

Sidekicks. You can’t meet your goals by yourself. You will need the help, encouragement, accountability and support of other people. You need a sponsor. You need friends. You need a mentor. You need a therapist or counselor. These people, along with an army of others, will help you rebuild your determination when you don’t think you have any.

As you continue on the journey of sobriety, you will discover other methods of finding and maintaining determination. Also keep in mind that your determination will ebb and flow like the tides. When it’s low, don’t get discouraged with yourself. Everyone feels that way. When you are riding high on determination, use that to make changes that you’ve wanted to try but haven’t.

Getting Help For Your Alcoholism

If you or a loved one is struggling with a problem with alcohol, we can help. You can call our toll free helpline any time; we’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can talk with one of our admissions coordinators about your symptoms and concerns. Together, you can decide the best way to begin the path of recovery. That journey begins with the first step of calling us, so take that step today.

Leave a Reply