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How to Maintain Long-Term Sobriety

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

March 18, 2024 (Originally Published)

March 18, 2024 (Last Updated)

Table of Contents

Achieving sobriety is the first step in the recovery process, and maintaining long-term sobriety involves applying the skills and techniques from treatment in the real world.

Regrettably, addiction – clinically described as substance use disorder – is a chronic and relapsing condition. Relapse rates are between 40% and 60%, similar to the relapse rates of other chronic conditions. While this means that many people do not experience a linear recovery journey, it’s still possible to stay sober long-term. Read on to find out how you can achieve this.

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What Is Considered Long-Term Sobriety

What is long term sobriety, then? The concept refers to sustained abstinence from alcohol or drug use over an extended period, often considered to be one year or more.

Achieving long-term sobriety is a worthwhile milestone for anyone recovering from addictions, as it indicates a successful adaptation to a life without the substance on which they were previously dependent. This period involves not only discontinuation of substance use, but also behavior modifications, lifestyle changes, and personal growth.

How to Maintain Long-Term Sobriety

There is no universal blueprint for maintaining long-term sobriety, but the following pointers will streamline the recovery process:

  1. Commit to lifelong sobriety: Acknowledge that sobriety is a lifelong commitment and prioritize your well-being at all times. Dedicate yourself to the journey of recovery, understanding that it requires ongoing effort and dedication.
  2. Understand your triggers: Take time to identify your personal triggers for substance use, whether they are external factors like certain environments or internal factors like stress or emotions. Understanding these triggers will empower you to develop effective coping mechanisms to manage them.
  3. Develop coping strategies: Equip yourself with a toolbox of coping strategies to navigate challenging situations without turning to substances. This may include practicing mindfulness, engaging in relaxation techniques, or reaching out to your support network for guidance and encouragement.
  4. Stay connected: Maintain strong connections with your support network, whether it’s through attending support group meetings, staying in touch with a sponsor, or surrounding yourself with understanding friends and family members who support your sobriety journey.
  5. Prioritize self-care: Take care of your physical, emotional, and mental health by prioritizing self-care activities. This includes focusing on the quality and quantity of sleep, eating balanced and healthy meals, exercising every day, and engaging with activities you find enjoyable and fulfilling.
  6. Set achievable goals: Set realistic and achievable goals for yourself, both in your sobriety journey and in other areas of your life. Celebrate milestones along the way, from maintaining sobriety for a certain period to accomplishing personal achievements.
  7. Avoid high-risk situations: Be mindful of situations or environments that may increase your risk of relapse and take proactive steps to avoid them. This might involve setting boundaries with certain people, avoiding places where substances are readily available, or finding alternative activities and interests.
  8. Keep learning: Continuously educate yourself about addiction, recovery, and mental health. Understanding the science underpinning addiction and learning about effective recovery strategies can empower you to make more informed decisions and stay committed to your sobriety goals.
  9. Celebrate your progress: Celebrate milestones, express gratitude for the support you receive, and reflect on how far you’ve come since beginning your recovery journey. Remember, every step forward is a victory worth celebrating.
  10. Seek professional help: Don’t hesitate to seek professional help from therapists, counselors, or healthcare professionals if you encounter challenges or setbacks in your sobriety. Professional support can provide personalized guidance and strategies to help you deal with difficult situations.
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Long-Term Sobriety Statistics

The latest data from NSDUH 2022 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) show that among U.S. over-12s:

  • 48.7 million had an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
  • 27 million had a drug addiction only.
  • 29.5 million had an alcohol addiction only.
  • 8 million were addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Among these tens of millions of individuals:

  • Only 6.1 million engaged with treatment for drug addiction.
  • Just 4.3 million received alcohol addiction treatment.

Unfortunately, addiction is a relapsing disorder. Research shows that roughly 40% to 60% of people recovering from addictions experience relapse within the first 30 days after discharge from inpatient rehab. Those who engaged with evidence-based treatment were more successful in staying sober for three years than those who did not seek help. 

Biggest Contributors to Long-Term Sobriety

Many variables contribute to long-term sobriety. Although everyone has a unique experience of addiction recovery, the following factors can all improve a person’s chances of maintaining long-term sobriety.

Strong support networks

A robust support network is one of the most significant contributors to long-term sobriety. This network often includes:

  • Family and friends: Friends and family members who offer emotional support, understanding, and encouragement can make a substantial difference to long-term recovery outcomes.
  • Peer support groups: Groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) provide a sense of community, shared experiences, and accountability.
  • Professional support: Therapists, counselors, and recovery coaches who specialize in addiction recovery can offer guidance, coping strategies, and treatment for underlying issues.

Mental health treatment

Many people struggling with addictions also face co-occurring mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Addressing these co-occurring disorders through professional mental health treatment can help reduce the risk of relapse and support overall well-being.

Lifestyle changes

Adopting a healthy lifestyle significantly increases the likelihood of maintaining sobriety. This includes:

  • Physical activity: Regular exercise can improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance overall health.
  • Nutrition: A balanced diet supports physical and mental health.
  • Sleep: Adequate rest promotes emotional and physical recovery.
  • Hobbies and interests: Engaging in fulfilling activities can provide joy, purpose, and an alternative focus to substance use.

Continuous learning and growth

Education about addiction and personal development plays a central role in sustained sobriety. Understanding the nature of addiction, developing self-awareness, and pursuing personal goals can all contribute to a sense of progress and fulfillment.

Spirituality or personal belief systems

For many people, spirituality or adherence to a set of personal beliefs provides a framework for understanding their journey, coping with challenges, and finding deeper meaning in sobriety.

Effective coping strategies

Developing and utilizing effective coping strategies for dealing with stress, triggers, and cravings might include techniques like mindfulness, meditation, journaling, or having supportive dialogues with peers or mentors.

Setting boundaries

Learn to set healthy boundaries with others, especially in environments or relationships that may have previously encouraged substance use. Establishing limits can safeguard sobriety and reduce exposure to potential triggers.

Relapse prevention planning

A relapse prevention plan should identify triggers, outline strategies for coping with cravings, and include steps to take in the event of a relapse to minimize its impact and streamline a return to sobriety.

Positive social connections

Build and maintain positive social connections with people who support and reinforce your recovery. These relationships can offer encouragement, reduce feelings of isolation, and provide opportunities for enjoyable, substance-free activities.

Long-term sobriety is achieved through a combination of personal commitment, support, and strategic planning. While the path may vary from one person to another, these core contributors form a foundation upon which a life of recovery can be built and sustained. We can help you with this at Renaissance Recovery.

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Get Help with Long-Term Sobriety at Renaissance Recovery

If you need help achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety, reach out to Renaissance in Southern California.

We specialize in treating alcohol and drug addictions in an outpatient setting. Choosing outpatient treatment at Renaissance enables you to meet your daily obligations without compromising your recovery.

All addictions are unique, so treatment programs at our rehab center in Huntington Beach are personalized, drawing from the following therapies:

Call Renaissance at 866.330.9449 and begin your recovery from drug or alcohol addiction right away.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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