Maintaining sobriety: Experts weigh in

Maintaining sobriety is an ongoing process, as you never know when you’ll experience something that triggers you to want to use again.

Here, the mental health professionals from Nevada Health Centers (NVHC) share their insights to help keep your recovery on the right path.

  • Have a plan. “Think about the people, places or things that might tempt you to use and decide ahead of time how you might deal with them,” advises Sandra Abdullah, the Clinical Director of Behavioral Health for NVHC. She adds that escape should be part of that plan. “If you need to, get out of the situation as quickly as possible.”
  • Identify and use your support system. It’s important to have someone to talk to whenever you’re struggling. That can be a friend or family member, therapist or a support group.
    • Get help on the go. NVHC Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Alison Ledworowski says there are apps to let you know where and when AA or NA meetings are taking place, wherever you are. “If you’re on a trip and you start feeling anxious, the app can let you know who to call or where to attend a meeting,” she shares.
  • Be realistic. We all put unnecessary pressure on ourselves all the time. It’s important to be mindful of that and only commit to what you’re capable of doing. “You need to be realistic about what you can actually do, whether that’s time, money or something else,” Abdullah advises.
  • Practice daily self-care. This is important all the time, and it can look different for everyone. Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to focus on yourself, whether that’s a walk, exercise, meditation, a bubble bath or something else.
  • Get connected to community. People struggling with addiction have a tendency to lose connections — with family, friends, romantic partners and even children. It’s important not to isolate and to reach out to the connections you do have, whether that’s a meeting, family gathering or volunteering.

Being Supportive

When you love someone with an addiction problem, you want to do anything you can to help them. Abdullah acknowledges that while much of this is out of your control, there are a number of ways you can be supportive.

“We want to be careful to protect our own boundaries, but we also don’t want our loved ones to be isolated,” she says. “We can help them work through their problems by lending an understanding ear or encouraging them to attend meetings or to see their therapist.”

It’s also good to remember that they may not be ready for the next step.  Abdullah advises us to be supportive, but to meet them where they are — and then to help them when they’re ready.

The Value of Therapy

Therapists can help pinpoint triggers and work with their clients to implement coping skills to manage them.

Ledworowski says it’s important to understand what’s going on, internally and externally, and then help clients navigate all of it. Trained and licensed therapists can help identify the root cause of the problem, but she says it’s also imperative to get the addiction under control.

“The disease has all of these different elements,” Ledworowski says. “We can help with the mental health part, but the addiction is its own thing. Everything needs to be addressed.”

Once you commit to recovery, it’s important to remember that it’s for a lifetime. NVHC’s licensed alcohol and drug counselors support patients as they work to overcome addiction. This care involves developing recovery plans and after-care strategies for a range of addictions, including alcohol, opioids and gambling. Counseling services are offered on an outpatient basis. If you would like more information, call 800.787.2568 or visit our behavioral health service page.