Three Ways to Make Your Sobriety Your Priority

Three Ways to Make Your Sobriety Your Priority

Life in recovery from drugs or alcohol can seem like a difficult task to accomplish each and every day, but the days can be made lighter by making sobriety the number one priority. Everybody is busy and that is no different for someone fresh in recovery after completing a rehab program. But if sobriety is not made the priority from day one of recovery, it simply will not last.

Recovering addicts who just completed a rehab program likely had to take a break from their daily routine, especially those who completed a longer term residential program. Now that rehab has been completed there are likely numerous tasks that need the attention of the newly recovering addict. It can be easy to fall back in to the routine of pre-treatment life with daily priorities taking up the majority of the person’s focus. But for a recovering addict, old routines, schedules, demands and priorities can be a recipe for relapse. Life after rehab has to be rethought and restructured in order to make the person’s sobriety last long-term. Three tips that can help a newly recovering addict make sobriety the priority are described below.

Put Others Second

It may be the opposite of what was championed growing up – that people should put others first – but when it comes to recovering from something as dangerous as addiction, the saying needs to be flipped to put others second. It does not make the recovering addict a selfish person, it actually makes them a responsible person. Personal health and well-being is important and if recovery is not taken seriously it could result in a relapse back into a lifestyle of addiction.

A recovering addict who has duties as a parent or caregiver may find it difficult to put himself first over the needs of children. But when children’s activities and many needs get in the way of recovery meetings or serve as triggers, the addict may quickly find himself on the brink of relapse. Ask for help and support to ensure that the family is taken care of and personal recovery efforts do not suffer.1

It is important to put others second if they get in the way of recovery efforts. That does not mean to always put others second in every situation, it simply means ensuring that personal recovery efforts take precedence over helping others. It is of course still good to help others in need but if a recovering addict’s friend wants to see a movie at the same time the recovering addict has a support group meeting, than it is time to put the friend second and say no to hanging out. Personal efforts to remain sober and clean should take priority in a recovering addict’s life otherwise the recovery will not last long.

Build Schedules Around Sobriety

It may at first seem easy to fit in therapy sessions, 12-Step meetings, support group meetings and other recovery efforts into a new schedule. But in order for this choice to remain easy, sobriety-supporting activities must take priority in life. A recovering addict must build her schedule around her recovery efforts. The easiest way is to start with a blank schedule, fill in everything related to recovery efforts including appointments, check-ups and 12-Step meetings, and then fill in the rest of the schedule around that. This will ensure that if there is ever a scheduling conflict that the recovery effort takes precedence over the other scheduling need.

Lasting sobriety takes a daily recommitment and scheduling things day by day can help ease the transition from addiction to life in recovery. Try not to commit to too many things or things too far down the road in early recovery. Over committing can cause stress and likely take focus off of personal recovery needs. When things become too much to handle, take a step back and write in a journal to help relax. Writing things down in a personal journal can help recovering addicts get out their frustrations in a healthy manner.2

Practice Saying No

Friends, family, work and life in general will inevitably get in the way of personal recovery efforts at some point in time. Loved ones will make demands on your time and attention, and it is important to practice saying no to them. In most cases saying no along with an explanation that you must place your recovery-supporting commitments first will satisfy your loved ones. Friends, family and professional colleagues will have to accept no for an answer when their needs conflict with the personal need to stay sober. There is no need greater than personal health and staying free from addiction.

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1 Addiction Help Center, “5 Ways to Create Sober Routines in Recovery,”,, (Cited December 29, 2015).

2 Summit Behavioral Health, “How to Make Sobriety A Daily Way of Life,”,, (December 22, 2014).