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A guide to how to get sober

How to Get Sober, Step by Step

What’s the hardest part about getting sober? When over 20 million Americans have a substance use disorder, you’re bound to get different answers if you ask that question to a room full of people in recovery. Some may say getting through detox and withdrawal symptoms is the hardest. Others may say staying sober in the face of life’s triggers is what gives them the most trouble. For others still, the most challenging part is recognizing a drug or alcohol use disorder and asking for help in the first place. 

No matter who you are, where you come from, or where you are in your journey, there is hope for a brighter future. Everyone’s path looks a little different, but working with a professional addiction treatment center can make all the difference when you’re ready to turn your life around. Vogue Recovery Center is a full-service substance abuse and mental health rehab facility with skilled and experienced clinicians. We’ve helped countless people get sober, and we can help you. 

1. Acknowledge You Have a Problem 

“Admit you have a problem” is a common refrain, but that’s because it remains the single most important aspect of recovery. You have to acknowledge to yourself and others that you have a problem that’s out of your control in order to make it better. 

But along with admitting you have a problem, having a desire to change and improve is crucial. Those who know they struggle with drugs and alcohol but have no desire to change may not find success in rehab. 

Dual Diagnosis for Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

Perhaps acknowledging your issues with drugs or alcohol also means acknowledging mental illness. Substance abuse and mental health disorders are often linked. A specific mental issue may be causing or perpetuating your drug or alcohol abuse. If a clinician can diagnose a mental health disorder using the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), a therapist can help you learn more about your dual diagnosis. That means having both substance abuse issues and a mental illness, and it’s also known as co-occurring disorders. 

Co-occurring disorders can encompass a wide range of mental health conditions, including: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Personality disorders

Evidence-based therapies such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and motivational enhancement therapy (MET) are often used to treat co-occurring disorders. These therapies can help you address the underlying issues driving both conditions and help you develop coping strategies.

2. Ask For Help

After you’ve recognized that your drinking or drug use is a problem that needs a solution, asking for help is the next step. That can be really hard. Maybe you feel weak or like a failure for reaching out to someone else. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Asking for help is the right thing to do. 

When you’re ready to ask for help, make sure the person you go to is trustworthy and capable of helping. Some examples of people who can help include: 

  • Family 
  • Friends
  • Religious leaders
  • Teachers 
  • Therapists
  • Doctors
  • Peers in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

When asking for help, it’s important to remember that some people should not be relied on. Those who enable your substance abuse are not good options when you need advice, even if they are your friends or family. Begin by expressing your concern about your addiction. You can say something like, “I need to talk to you about something important. I’ve been struggling with addiction, and I’m really concerned about it.” Share the details of your addiction honestly. Explain what you are addicted to, the extent of your use, and how it has affected your life and relationships. This honesty is crucial for the other person to understand the seriousness of the situation.

Relying on strangers on the internet is not recommended. While there are valuable forums and groups online for those in recovery, you don’t know whose advice can be trusted or if they have accurate information. It’s always better to find assistance from a certified treatment facility like Vogue Recovery Center. 

3. Find a Treatment Program 

Your choice in addiction treatment center can impact your recovery journey. There are different types of alcohol and drug treatment programs, and finding the right one can feel overwhelming. Below are some tips for choosing an addiction treatment program that fits your needs. 

If these are too much for you to do, that’s okay. Turn to the person or people from Step #2 above for help in deciding a good fit for you. 

Assess Your Needs

Begin by assessing your specific needs and goals related to addiction treatment. Consider factors like:

  • The type of substance you’re addicted to
  • The severity of your addiction
  • Any co-occurring mental health issues you have
  • Your preferred treatment style, like inpatient, outpatient, holistic, etc.
  • Your financial situation

Verify Accreditation and Licensing

Ensure the treatment center is accredited and licensed by the appropriate state and national regulatory bodies.

Check Treatment Approaches

Different treatment centers may offer various approaches to addiction treatment. Some focus on 12-step programs, while others may offer alternative or holistic approaches. Choose a center that aligns with your personal beliefs and preferences.

Assess Staff Qualifications

The qualifications and experience of the treatment center’s staff is crucial. This includes counselors, therapists, and medical professionals. Look for centers with licensed and experienced professionals who specialize in addiction treatment.

Look at Reviews

Look online for reviews of the rehab facilities you’re considering. Try to find reviews that match what you’re looking for, whether that’s recovery from a specific drug or the intensity of the program (inpatient vs. outpatient). 

References can also help you make a decision. If you are already part of a support group like NA or AA, fellow group members may have advice about treatment centers. Or, if you already see a therapist, they can certainly provide recommendations.

Investigate Insurance Coverage and Payment Options

Check whether the treatment center accepts your health insurance. If so, what portion of the cost is covered? If you’re paying out of pocket, inquire about payment plans and financing options.

4. Detox

Detox is the process of removing drugs or alcohol from your system when you have a physical dependence on substances. It is one of the first steps in formal addiction treatment. Detox will happen whenever you stop drinking or taking drugs, and it often comes with withdrawal symptoms. Those symptoms are usually uncomfortable, and they can be dangerous—even life-threatening. They can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Medical detox at a rehab center is designed to help you safely manage withdrawal symptoms and prepare for addiction treatment. Drug and alcohol withdrawal can be challenging, but with the right help, you can make it through.

At Vogue Recovery Center, medical professionals oversee detox. They are trained to manage withdrawal symptoms and provide necessary medical care. Before detox begins, healthcare providers assess: 

  • Your overall health
  • The type and amount of substances you’ve been using
  • How long you’ve been using them
  • Any co-occurring medical or mental health conditions

This assessment helps determine the appropriate detox protocol. 

Detox is a short-term process, typically lasting a few days to a week, depending on the substance and your body. After completing detox, it’s usually best to transition into a more comprehensive addiction treatment program, which may include inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, counseling, therapy, and ongoing support.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT, or medication-assisted treatment, is an evidence-based approach to addiction treatment and detox that combines the use of medication with counseling and behavioral therapy. This means that if your healthcare providers think medications could improve your detox experience, they may prescribe specific ones temporarily. 

MAT is primarily used to treat alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorders, such as addiction to prescription opioids or heroin.

5. Enter an Addiction Treatment Program

After detox many people choose to attend an alcohol or drug addiction treatment program operated by their substance abuse counselors. This is a smart decision because the therapists are already familiar with your situation and needs. This can make for an easier transition from detox to residential or outpatient care. 

There are many kinds of treatment programs and levels of care. That means your treatment center can personalize your recovery based on your specific needs. There are even unique offerings for drug abuse or alcohol use disorders so you can find the path to a brighter future that’s right for you. 

These are the levels of care offered at Vogue Recovery Center, and they often happen in steps, meaning you start with the ones at the top and move down as you gain confidence and skills in sobriety. 

Residential Treatment

An inpatient treatment program puts space between you and what triggers you to use drugs or alcohol. You can focus on yourself as you repair the physical and emotional damage of addiction. You’ll participate in behavioral therapies, individual counseling, and groups that help you address the root causes of substance abuse and addiction. Plus, you’ll learn healthy coping skills you need to stay sober.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

For those who don’t need 24/7 supervision at a rehab center, a PHP is a great option. It allows more flexibility: You can live at home while attending daily treatment at the drug rehab facility. A PHP is the first step towards independence in your recovery journey.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Another less intensive program, an IOP offers even more flexibility in recovery. It’s a step down from PHP. You may visit the rehab center for treatment just a few times a week. The goal is to begin applying the coping skills and tools learned in recovery to life in the outside world.

Outpatient Program

Outpatient rehab is another option that allows you to fulfill obligations like work or school while still attending recovery programming once or twice per week. Outpatient treatment is one of the final steps of the treatment process. You reenter the world with the tools you need to remain sober in the future.

Some specific therapies used during treatment include: 

Individual Therapy

In individual therapy you work one-on-one with a trained therapist or counselor. It is a fundamental component of addiction treatment and is designed to provide personalized care and support to address your specific needs and challenges. Sessions are private and confidential, so you can open up and discuss sensitive issues without fear of judgment. 

Therapists use evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Other modalities that have been proven effective in addiction treatment

Group Therapy 

Group therapy is commonly used in addiction treatment programs and involves a group of individuals who are facing similar challenges related to addiction and recovery coming together under the guidance of a trained therapist or counselor. Group therapy is designed to provide a supportive and collaborative environment for you to share your experiences, gain insights, and work on recovery together.

Family Therapy 

Family therapy, also known as family counseling or family-oriented treatment, addresses the impact of addiction on you and your family members. You and your family or loved ones meet in therapy sessions facilitated by a trained therapist. The primary goals of family therapy in addiction treatment are to improve: 

  • Family dynamics
  • Communication
  • Support

Healthy relationships enhance your chances of successful recovery.

6. Enter Aftercare

Leaving a rehab facility doesn’t mean cutting off ties. Aftercare is a crucial component of substance abuse treatment and plays a significant role in long-term recovery. It consists of the ongoing support and strategies you can use to prevent relapse and stay sober. 

Aftercare may look like staying in a sober living home operated by a treatment provider because it offers structure and support as you take the next steps towards a brighter future. 

7. Make Lifestyle Changes 

Making significant lifestyle changes following alcohol and drug rehab is crucial for preventing relapse. Here are some tips for staying sober:

  • Avoid high-risk situations: Identify and avoid situations, places, and people associated with substance use. This may involve changing your social circle, avoiding old haunts, or steering clear of events where alcohol or drugs are prevalent.
  • Establish a sober support system: Surround yourself with supportive and sober friends, loved ones, and family members who understand your journey and can provide emotional support during challenging times. You’ll likely find these people if you attend addiction treatment, but they’re also in support groups like AA and NA.
  • Engage in regular therapy: Continue attending individual or group therapy sessions as part of your aftercare plan. Therapy helps you develop coping skills, manage stress, and address underlying issues contributing to addiction.
  • Attend support groups: Participating in support groups like AA or NA provides a sense of community and ongoing support from people who understand what you’ve been through.
  • Create a structured routine: Establish a daily structured routine that includes healthy activities like exercise, mindfulness, meditation, and hobbies. Structure and consistency can help fill the void left by substance use.
  • Prioritize self-care: Focus on self-care practices that promote physical and emotional well-being, like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and practicing stress-reduction techniques.
  • Set realistic goals: Establish achievable short-term and long-term goals. Working towards these goals can give you a sense of purpose and motivation for staying sober.
  • Learn to manage stress: Develop healthy stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness meditation. These can help you cope with life’s challenges without resorting to substances.
  • Do regular exercise: Regular physical activity, no matter how small, can improve your mood, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being.
  • Develop a relapse prevention plan: Work with your therapist or counselor to create a relapse prevention plan that includes strategies for managing cravings and high-risk situations, plus tips for staying sober.

Make Vogue Recovery Center Part of Your Plan

Alcohol and drugs always have the potential to lead to physical dependence and addiction. Stopping drug and alcohol addiction before it ruins your life is always the best course of action. Finding a treatment center and dedicated healthcare professionals to oversee your recovery is the best advice for anyone struggling with the effects of alcohol and drug abuse. If you’re ready to quit and move on to a brighter future, let Vogue Recovery Center be your next step.


Evan Gove

Evan Gove

Evan Gove is a writing and editing professional with ten years of experience. He graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in Writing & Rhetoric. When not writing, you can find him enjoying his sunny hometown of Delray Beach, Florida.
Evan Gove

Latest posts by Evan Gove (see all)

Published by Evan Gove

Evan Gove is a writing and editing professional with ten years of experience. He graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in Writing & Rhetoric. When not writing, you can find him enjoying his sunny hometown of Delray Beach, Florida.

Medically Reviewed by Kelsey Jones, MS, LPC