Tools and Strategies
Here are some tools and strategies for sobriety in the early days of sobriety.
Remember, establishing new habits (to combat the habit of drinking and using)
takes repetition and time, so doing things for sobriety over and over again is
important. You don’t have to do all of these all the time, but pick some to try
out (see the last page for some specific suggestions on this). The numbered ones
are very highly recommended.
“Don’t tread water around the rescue boat—get in the boat.”
W, Bill. Twelve Secular Steps: An Addiction Recovery Guide (Kindle Location 978).
Beowulf Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.
Go to lots of meetings; go to different meetings; stick out your hand
andintroduce yourself to people before and after the meeting.
Remember, you don’t have to accept anyone else’s beliefs or deny your own
but learning to be open to hear others’ opinions can be useful.
Take what you like and leave the rest.
Get in the room: Listen to everyone’s stories ... if you find yourself
getting lost in your head, try to refocus on whatever is being shared instead.
This is called “getting in the room.” Try to listen for the similarities,
rather than the differences.
First thing in the morning, read some kind of recovery or
morning meditation material to point your head in the right direction!
Get a physical. If needed, you may want to go to a detox or rehab facility.
Check with some of the folks in the rooms to see if they have any information on these.
Make a plan (Daily Actions List) for your daily sobriety ... see the list included
below for some suggestions on this.
Write out a “first step inventory.” Basically, this is writing about what lengths
your drive for drinking/using took you. What you did that you wouldn’t have if not for
your drive to drink. What values or morals did you betray to continue your drinking?
What were the consequences of your addiction to alcohol? What emotional harm did you do
to those around you? What were the financial costs? This is not about “beating yourself up,”
but being honest about what happened and what it felt like. All those things that brought
you to seek sobriety. If you get stuck or want help, ask someone whose sobriety you
admire to help you.
Once the first step inventory is done to the point you are convinced that your using
controlled you rather than you controlling your using, then condense the inventory to
just one page of the worst of the worst to have with you for your daily actions list.
When things get tough, pull it out and read it ... it’s a reminder of why you’re doing this.
Make a commitment to at least one meeting a week that you like (this may become your
“home group”). Ask the members what commitment would be best for you (make the coffee, be
a greeter, clean up coffee cups, etc).
Make your bed, brush your teeth, and take some quiet time every morning. It may seem
silly, but developing regular habits is one of the ways we learn to build sobriety.
Don’t believe everything you think!
At meetings, try not to just listen for or pass judgment on facts; you may find incredible
many of the details you hear. However, the facts in the story may be of minor importance.
Instead, try to listen for the thoughts and feelings. They convey depths of truth that are
deeper than the details of the events. try to listen to the music of AA, rather than just
Try to reach out and help others ... this can work for you when nothing else seems
to do the trick. In the morning, or at least once a day, find a moment for quiet time to
relax and be content.
Try using meditation readings or just create moments when you trust that everything is going to
work out OK. This can be a moment of prayer or meditation if you like, as either of these is
effective in quieting the noise and chaos in your head and replacing it with a calm focus on
If you find yourself wasting time obsessing about problems and people that you have no
control over anyway, try the Serenity Prayer to develop the thought in your mind that you’re seeking
the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and
the wisdom to know the difference.”
The compulsion can be very strong, so having some people in your corner can really help in the fight...
and their suggestions come from a long history of battles won (and some lost!). So when you hear
someone you find helpful, ask them to talk with you, go have coffee, or just chat a bit with them
after the meeting.
Read recovery literature (i.e.: the AA Big Book or Living Sober, or both). Focus on the similarities,
rather than the differences in the readings.
Find one, two, or three people you can call everyday just to check in, so when things get difficult
you’ve already gotten comfortable with calling them. One of them may become a sponsor or mentor,
but you don’t have to decide that right away.
Stick with the winners (and win with the stickers, they say). Avoid isolating! It’s vital to
stay connected with other sober people, so don’t overdue time alone.
Remember, this is a one day at a time program, so reduce stress by focusing on the day or task
at hand, not the future (or the past).
Read Living Sober regularly. Perhaps the first thing in the morning read one of the topics
each day as part of your quiet time.
Eat well! Try not to start eating candy and doughnuts if you can ... Fruits have all
the sugars your body needs.
Read the stories in the back of the Big Book.
If you experience cravings, or if you feel stressed, irritable, or depressed, take action
immediately. This can include calling a sober friend, going to a meeting, reading recovery
literature, or helping another person trying to recover. “Throw the dog a bone” means to
find a way to divert your attention and get your mind to focus on something else.
Use “H.A.L.T.” Don’t let yourself get too “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.”
Make a “Daily Actions List:”
The following are suggestions for creating a daily action list of a few things and are based on
many different sources from folks who’ve walked the path of sobriety successfully before you.
Doing the same things daily can help establish recovery habits that help a lot. You may need or
want to adjust them for language or activities that feel right to you. However, remember that your
brain and mind have been affected by your use and addiction(s) over time, so finding a sober
friend, sponsor, or mentor to talk with about this can be of tremendous value.
Once you decide which of these suggestions seem to fit best, write them out on a sheet of paper or
an index card to keep with you. Use first person positive action statements that resonate with you
(examples follow each of the suggestions in quotes, but feel free to use your own words or phrases).
Try to keep the list to just 5 or 6 things rather than a whole long list that won’t be manageable.
Refer to the list in the morning and evening (or any time during the day when things get tough).
This is a one day at a time program, so the action list is meant to help you do it “just for today.”
You may also find, after a week or two, that you want to adjust your daily actions.
Here are some examples:
Make a decision that No Matter What, you want to stay sober. Posting a note to this effect
on your mirror is not a bad idea, either. “No matter what, I’m going to stay sober.”
Sobriety: the number one priority. “Today, sobriety is my highest priority.”
Go to at least a meeting a day for the first 90 days – go to more if you can. Try several
different meetings at different times. You don’t have to share or talk, but reaching out your hand
to one or two people and introducing yourself can really help. Ask them if you can call them and
get phone numbers. Take what you like and put the rest in your back pocket in case it becomes
useful later. “Today I am going to a meeting, reaching out my hand, and getting one or more phone
numbers.” “Today I will call at least one or two people in the fellowship.”
Hang out with sober people and avoid social gatherings or people who are into drinking or
using other drugs. “I am not going to hang with old running mates. I am going to get together
with other sober people.”
Read over your first-step list, especially if you feel the urge to drink or use. Thinking
the drink through (think, think, think) is visualizing the consequences of having “just one.”
“I am going to read over my consequences list and remember why I’m staying sober.”
Do some kind of physical exercise (walking is good enough). “Today I will walk for thirty minutes.”
Write down thoughts/feelings and notes. Carry a small notebook with you. “I will write in
my notebook today.”
Remember, it’s easier to stay sober than it is to get sober. “It’s easier to stay sober than
to get sober ... today I will stay sober no matter what comes.”
Read some recovery literature. “Today I am going to read one section of Living Sober.”
Or “Today I’m going to read a chapter out of the Big Book.”
back to main page
back to main page