To most people, being sober means not being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, right there and then. They may drink and consume drugs tomorrow or next week. However, to non-problem drinkers being sober does not mean they would ‘never’ drink again.
‘Sober’ refers to a life based on sobriety for people with addiction problems.
> Jump to 21 ways to get clean and sober.
Sustained sobriety means complete abstinence from alcohol and drugs unless prescribed by a doctor. AA and NA speak about remaining sober ‘just for today’, but in reality, an alcoholic or drug addict can never drink or use safely again. Can alcoholics ever go back to casual drinking?
This definition of sobriety is fixed for those who cannot control their alcohol intake or continue to have an unhealthy relationship with drugs. It is called recovery.
How Long Does It Take to Sober Up?
For heavy drinkers, all traces of alcohol have left the body after 18 hours. A moderate drinker would still have alcohol in their system the following morning after a night out. In contrast, a single drink would leave your system after an hour. There is no way of speeding up the metabolism process, although sleep and exercise help. In addition, drinking black coffee to sober you up, for example, is a myth.
The highs from weed/marijuana or cocaine can last for a few hours. However, chemicals like THC in cannabis will be present in the body for days, and cocaine can even remain in the hair for months. To be classed as ‘technically’ sober, all traces of the drug would have to have left the body.
How to Get Clean Fast
If you want to get all traces of drugs and alcohol out of your system and you are a heavy substance abuser, then a hospital detox is the best way to ensure that:
- You complete the detox and gain sobriety
- The detoxification process is bearable with medication and nursing
- That there is support and help for both the mental and physical withdrawal symptoms
- If there is an emergency, Doctors and nurses are on call.
- More on detox for alcohol.
For non-judgemental help and advice call 01721 728118.
How to Stay Sober
The chances of an addict remaining clean after removing substances from their bodies are quadrupled if they attend addiction treatment.
The goal of all rehab treatment is a better life. Castle Craig offers a programme of complete abstinence. There is no middle ground for addicts to use safely. If detox is the start of a journey, how do you remain sober?
Post detox Rehab
Before the advent of psychiatric hospitals and addiction treatment centres, getting sober was going cold turkey and attending AA/NA meetings, with many alcoholics attaining sobriety in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. However, as you can imagine, going cold turkey is tough and possibly dangerous to your health. See Being sober for a week.
Staying sober is about learning new thoughts, beliefs, habits, and behaviours that make drinking a lousy idea by suggesting several other alternative coping mechanisms. Life doesn’t stop because you got sober. The boss is still annoying, you are late, and you have bills to pay. Sobriety is about accepting life on life’s terms, however painful.
The struggle to stay clean – what helps?
At our hospital, we help improve the odds of our patients staying sober by assisting them in finding recovery, not just sobriety. Our addiction treatment programme has been 30 years in the making – this gives our patients the foundation to begin learning how to recover effectively from addiction.
On top of this, patients are motivated to discover a willingness to face life and take responsibility for themselves. Patients are taught better-coping mechanisms to replace the role of substances and dismissive behaviours like denial.
Is being sober in rehab easier?
In a sense, being sober in rehab is easy. You are cocooned in a safe, healthy environment with a therapist and medical support. You are away from the stress of daily life and the more common relapse triggers like work, stress, money and relationships. See preventing relapse.
Post-Castle Craig, patients need to apply their new skills to remain sober. And it will be difficult. You may have been drinking for 10, 20 or 30 years. Old habits and thought patterns are hard to break.
21 Ways to Stay Sober for Longer
- Try staying sober just for today
- Try staying sober just for yourself, not for others
- Avoid wet places (pubs) / do not keep alcohol in the house
- Work your programme, read the just for today card and do it
- Go to regular NA/AA meetings. We have not heard of anyone relapsing on the day they went to a meeting
- Call a fellow patient from Castle Craig or a friend/sponsor who is also in recovery. Who knows, you may be helping someone who needs support too
- Remember HALT (hungry, lonely, tired) and be aware of your internal weather
- Ask for help when you are struggling
- Learn how to have fun sober
- Get a new therapist or ask Castle Craig to help you find one in your area. Common reasons for relapse are co-occurring, untreated mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.
- Speak to your wife/husband partner, let them in
- Be as honest as you can be
- Try and be good to yourself, exercise, meditation and self-care
- Create a schedule that can help keep you busy and sober
- New job? When I get sober will, I need a new Job?
Things to Try When You Feel You Are Going to Use or Drink
- Call your sponsor
- Find a newcomer at a meeting and help them
- Empty the dishwasher or clean shoes as this activates the front brain and will help you feel calmer
- Call Castle Craig and ask to speak to someone, or call the Samaritans
- Think about long-term solutions; a drink or a drug is not a long-term solution
- Tell yourself, “I have made it this far; I know this will pass.”
How Long Does It Take To Be Referred to as ‘Sober’
There are chips (reward medals) at AA meetings for lengths of sobriety. They start with 24 hours and then move on to 1 month, two months etc. You are living a sober life the minute you decide not to drink or use. In fellowships like AA or NA, the longest person sober in a room is the person who woke up earliest!
Getting clean and staying sober takes a lifetime. The journey is rich and rewarding and starts with making a simple phone call to Castle Craig and asking for help.
More help and advice for staying sober can be found here.