How to Make Your Sober Resolutions and Stick to Them Long Term?

For many, sober resolutions are a promise of continued abstinence and sobriety to themselves. For others, they’re the incentive to push ahead, make progress toward recovery, and finally achieve sobriety. In both cases, resolutions can have tremendous psychological and practical benefits – be they for alcohol addiction or other substances. And in all cases, it is vital that you make your sober resolutions and stick to them.

As a premier West Virginia treatment center, we at Harmony Ridge actively cultivate this mindset throughout our rehab services. We set the foundations as early as detox, and stress resolutions as an integral part of aftercare and maintained rehabilitation. As such, here we’d like to offer some actionable advice on how to do so wisely and productively.

Identifying Addiction Severity

First and foremost, you should have a clear understanding of the severity of your alcohol addiction. This will both help you seek appropriate help and inform your goals and resolutions. Of course, ideally, you should get such assessments from professional treatment providers. But if, for any reason, you cannot, you should still know the robust criteria you should use to do so.

With alcohol specifically, you may come across various terms that seek to describe addiction severity through its effects. So you may have everyday terms like “alcoholic” and “alcohol abuser”, alongside experts’ terms like “functional” or “high-functioning” alcoholics. Some such terms may seem offensive now, or less than fully accurate – but many of us simply use them.

A notebook on a table, with a page split into “less” and “more” columns.
Before you begin to make your sober resolutions and stick to them, it is vital to have the severity of your addiction inform your choices.

AUD Severity Criteria

But what makes AUD mild, moderate, or severe? Citing criteria from DSM-5, NIAAA asks if you have, in the past year:

  • Ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended
  • Wanted, more than once, to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t
  • Spent a lot of time drinking, or being sick or getting over other aftereffects of drinking
  • Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else
  • Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family, or caused job troubles or school problems
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt
  • Continued to drink after having had a memory blackout, or even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious, or adding to another health problem
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want, or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you sensed things that were not there, or had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure

In brief, how many of those apply to you define your addiction severity. 2-3 would mean mild addiction; 4-5 would mean moderate, 6+ would mean severe.

Having AUD Severity Inform Your Resolutions

Now you may start to make your sober resolutions and stick to them – or at least plan their foundations. To do so accurately and fairly to yourself, however, you must let your AUD severity inform your goals and resolutions.

At this point, you may wonder just how to do so. Fear not, that’s what we’re here to help with. First, you should ensure you have an accurate AUD severity assessment – ideally by a professional. Then, either on your own or in cooperation with your treatment providers, you may consider the following 3 steps.

#1 Set Realistic Goals

First things first, remember that setting unreasonable goals will only set you up for failure and disappointment. For instance, you can’t have severe AUD and expect to achieve sobriety in a week. You can’t be struggling with withdrawal symptoms and try to quit cold turkey on your own. You can’t have an AUD dual diagnosis and demand of yourself that you tackle both AUD and mental health problems.

Rather, take it one step at a time and set realistic goals. Try to reduce your AUD severity from severe to moderate, for example. Try to break free from patterns of behavior that lead you to alcohol. It may not be all of them, and it may not be full sobriety, but resolutions are all about small victories and gradual improvement toward recovery.

#2 Seek Appropriate Support

Next, remember to give yourself a fair playing field with appropriate support. You cannot be in need of professional help and not receive it, and yet expect to be able to make your sober resolutions and stick to them. A severe case of addiction typically can’t be handled without medical detox, for example, so you shouldn’t set such a goal on your own.

A close-up of two people holding hands in the light.
As you make your sober resolutions and stick to them, remember to seek as much help as you can get and might need to achieve your goals.

Of course, we understand that some resolutions may simply be to maintain abstinence for longer. They may be to not let yourself drink at all to prevent relapse, or to not seek comfort in alcohol during a stressful time in your life. Such goals are relatively easier, and you may certainly manage without much help. But still, seeking professional help wherever needed will only help you stay true to your resolutions.

#3 Negotiate Your Guilt

Finally, remember to negotiate your guilt – especially if you’ve failed your resolutions before. Across all types of addictions, guilt is a very common and very natural feeling. However, overbearing yourself with guilt may only hamper your efforts and sabotage your resolutions. Whether it’s over the wrongs you’ve done or regret over relapse and failure, guilt can truly be your worst enemy.

To prevent this, simply go through the above list again. Read the items on it that apply to you, and let them shape your perception of your AUD. If it’s severe, practice some self-forgiveness to allow yourself to move forward. If you’ve failed your resolutions before, keep your AUD’s severity in mind and understand that freedom from addiction is slow and gradual. Failures are to be expected, and it’s up to you to try again if you fail.

This may not happen overnight, of course. But this step is recurring in this regard; remember to do so every time you let yourself down, to give yourself the strength to try again.

How To Make Your Sober Resolutions And Stick To Them

Now, with this foundation in order, you may cement your resolutions and strive to uphold them. This is indeed a very personal process that can differ quite significantly, but the value of some practices is universal.

So, in order, you may consider the 5 steps that follow.

#1 Pick Your Goal

First, naturally, you must pick your goal itself. This is indeed strictly personal, so we won’t lay out goals for you. What we will say, however, is to pick your goal wisely.

Caption: The goals you pick for your sober resolutions should at all times be realistic, or you might be setting yourself up for failure and discouragement.

A close-up of a person holding a pen over a notebook.
The goals you pick for your sober resolutions should at all times be realistic, or you might be setting yourself up for failure and discouragement.

In line with the above, pick a goal that’s realistic for your situation and recovery capital. Ideally, it should challenge you just enough to signify progress, so there’s meaning to achieving it. At the same time, it shouldn’t exceed your capabilities to avoid the risk of failure. Staying within those two parameters should make for a resolution that helps you heal and progress, but also one you can bring yourself to dedicate your efforts to.

#2 Find The Best Time

With “what” covered, you should then carefully consider “when”. Picking the best time to make resolutions is absolutely crucial, as you might already know.

The reason for this is twofold. One, each recovery has ups and downs; you should only start when you’re clearly ready and capable of succeeding. And two, there is a deep psychological resonance with specific times that can affect your resolutions. Ideally, you should make your sober resolutions and stick to them when the two align.

As regards the latter, you might have noticed the most popular resolutions are New Year’s resolutions. Or you might have seen or experienced holiday depression, which WebMD explains is very common. The factor these have in common is time; we respond very strongly to times of significance. So, if you’re ready just before a birthday, new year, or another important anniversary, you may use this to your advantage.

A close-up of a notebook on a desk, showing a to-do list.
As you make your sober resolutions and stick to them, remember to pick the best time to motivate you to meet them.

#3 Gather Support

Next, you may further bolster your self-esteem and self-reliance by seeking support. This may seem contradictory, but we’re not solitary creatures; a strong support network gives us confidence and strength.

Gathering support does often begin with professional treatment providers, as outlined above. In cases where you need it, it’s absolutely essential. But support extends far beyond that, and into friends, family, loved ones, and social circles.  Feeling that you have a support network around you, ready to pick you up and set you back on course to recovery, can make an incredible difference.

As you do, this step often also presents an excellent opportunity to reconnect and make amends. If it does, exhaust this opportunity to further bolster your emotional wellbeing.

A top view of a swimming pool in which people are hanging out.
Making amends with those close to you and spending time with them will serve as invaluable support toward meeting your resolutions.

#4 Socialize

Having gathered support, it’s just as crucial to socialize both within and outside of your close circles as you make your sober resolutions and stick to them. In all but the most severe cases, this can only be beneficial as it lets you maintain a sense of structure and normalcy.

To illustrate this, simply consider the immense benefits of socialization even outside of addiction contexts. Dr. Craig Sawchuk, a Mayo Clinic psychologist, agrees that socialization can:

  • Stave off feelings of loneliness and decrease the risk of depression
  • Sharpen memory and cognitive skills
  • Have physical health benefits and even increase life expectancy

All these benefits are very notable, but are even more substantial in the context of sober resolutions. Better mental health and a vibrant social circle, ready to help you as needed, may make all the difference between success and failure.

#5 Let Yourself Thrive

Finally, returning to the personal, remember to also take care of yourself. Letting yourself thrive regardless of your rehab status and circumstances can help boost your personal recovery capital and bring you one step closer to your resolutions.

How you do so will of course depend on you. Still, we can suggest such practices as:

  • Exercising regularly; physical health aside, NCBI finds that exercise has immense psychological benefits as well.
  • Indulging in things you enjoy; personal time is just as important as socializing, as picking up your hobbies and enjoying yourself also builds self-esteem and happiness.
  • Sleeping and eating properly; maintaining a healthy everyday life and sleep schedule can also work wonders for your well-being and help you meet your goals.

As you make your sober resolutions and stick to them, remember that you’re your greatest ally. Treating yourself right may be the final step you need to take to grow and thrive.

Sports equipment by a lake at a natural park.
As you progress toward your resolutions, remember to take care of yourself and do things you enjoy to maintain your wellbeing.

Resolutions Across Addiction Types

Before concluding, here we should also note that resolutions are largely similar across different addiction types.

Sober resolutions do refer to alcohol, as the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have thrust AUD into the spotlight and removed its stigma. However, addiction-related resolutions are largely similar; improving yourself, progressing further toward recovery, or maintaining abstinence are universal goals.

Addiction Types That Invite Resolutions

For reference, consider the following types of addiction we’ve seen and encouraged resolutions for:

  • Cocaine addiction. One of the most powerful illicit drugs out there, cocaine addiction rehab does invite resolutions over time.
  • Fentanyl addiction. An infamously addictive painkiller, fentanyl detox treatment typically faces the challenge of drug combinations and higher addiction severity.
  • Heroin addiction. Another powerful illicit drug, heroin rehab centers will attest to the sheer challenge of overcoming heroin addiction.
  • Ambien addiction. Beyond its medical uses in treating insomnia, Ambien does often fuel dependency that requires Ambien rehab.
  • Barbiturates addiction. Powerful depressants, barbiturates rehab is becoming increasingly common in recent years as well.
  • Benzodiazepine addiction. Better known as benzo, this type of depressant also often requires benzo rehab to overcome.
  • Marijuana addiction. While less fatal, marijuana is no less addictive – as all centers for marijuana rehab West Virginia offers can attest to.
  • Stimulants addiction. A broader drug category with many addictive members, virtually every stimulants addiction rehab center will promote resolutions for it.
  • Opiates addiction. A staple in the ongoing opioid epidemic, any opiate rehab center will attest to the psychological need for resolutions.
  • Methamphetamine addiction. Better known as meth, this illicit drug is both potent and highly abusable – as any meth rehab center West Virginia offers will confirm.

As you can see, virtually every addiction requires that you make your sober resolutions and stick to them. This practice extends far beyond just AUD, and for good reason.

A rainbow emerging from a cloud over the countryside sky.
No matter the substance one is addicted to, making resolutions and seeing them through is incredibly beneficial in giving them hope for a true recovery.

Resolutions Across Rehab Programs

Finally, we should note that different stages of rehab may call for different resolution planning and efforts. To explain this, consider the typical journey to recovery:

  • Inpatient Programs. During inpatient drug rehab in WV and elsewhere, you will first begin to understand the extent and impact of your addiction. It’s during this stage where you can begin to evaluate your situation and plan your resolutions accordingly.
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs. Next, if you still have needs that require some clinical supervision, you will likely opt for a partial hospitalization program West Virginia has to offer. This stage will solidify your understanding of your recovery capital and help you gather the resolve to make resolutions.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs. In turn, any intensive outpatient program West Virginia offers will focus strongly on therapy and begin to leverage group dynamics. With case management well underway, you will likely be able to make wise, realistic resolutions at this stage.
  • Sober Living Homes. Finally, typically for alcohol but also other addictions, you may opt for sober living WV specializes in. At this stage you will truly be able to make your sober resolutions and stick to them, as you strive to maintain sobriety and thrive past your addiction.

In brief, every step of the way will present its own opportunities for self-reflection, self-forgiveness, and deliberations. As each step’s offerings will bring you one step closer to your goals, your resolutions will only become more achievable in turn.

A person’s hand extended toward a body of water.
From start to finish, the entire process of rehabilitation will present opportunities to make your sober resolutions and stick to them.

Sober Resolutions For A Better Future

In summary, it’s vital to plan ahead when you make your sober resolutions and stick to them. Succeeding offers a sense of progress that many of us need on the journey to recovery, while failing can discourage and dismay. We do always say that failure is only one more natural obstacle to overcome, but self-forgiveness does not come easy for everyone.

If you’d like to know more about sober resolutions and building recovery capital, or need any of our services, please feel free to contact us today. Our representatives are available 24/7, and will handle your inquiries with utmost care and discretion.



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