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Picture this: You’re 18 years old. You came to rehab about two months ago because you’ve been struggling with alcohol addiction since you were twelve years old. You completed your addiction treatment program and this is the first time you’ve managed to stay sober. You’re feeling great about yourself because you’re no longer dependent on alcohol to get through your day. You want to stay away from alcohol more than anything, but you’re worried that you might relapse. How do you stay sober?

For many teenagers and young adults, long-term recovery might seem like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. How do those people do it? How does someone get to the point where they have thirty years clean? How do they manage to stay sober for all of those years? It’s important to keep in mind that every person in recovery started with only one day clean. Eventually, those days add up and they become years and decades of a life in recovery. If they can do it, you can do it too!

Here are some tips on how to stay sober after you leave treatment:

Consider going to a halfway house or sober living facility. This is a great option, especially for someone who is brand new to recovery. A halfway house is a structured environment where the client is able to continue therapy at their addiction treatment center. They’re usually required to get a job and a sponsor and go to AA or NA meetings. Clients get more freedom, but they’re not yet living completely on their own. They will still be drug tested to ensure that they are staying on the right path towards long-term recovery.

Make sober friends. This might be difficult for someone who’s only had friends that use drugs or drink alcohol. However, sobriety will give you the opportunity to make clear-headed decisions. Now, you can choose your friends based off of shared values and life goals. Avoid people who don’t respect your decision to be sober.

Build a support network. You should join a group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These groups will help you meet new, sober friends and give you a sense of community. Get a sponsor so you will have someone to turn to who understands your struggle. A sponsor will help you avoid relapse when times get tough.

Focus on what you love. Whether it’s reading, traveling, playing baseball, working – just do what you love. After you quit drinking or using drugs, you may feel a sense of loss. Take your mind off those feelings by picking up a new hobby or rekindling an old one. Whatever it is you love to do, do it. Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.

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