If you've got or are on the cusp of earning your 365-day token, congratulations!
Hitting the one year sober milestone is something to be proud of. The first twelve months of sobriety can be very difficult, but what should you expect in the aftermath?
Well, for one, your odds of staying sober improve dramatically. An eight-year study showed that less than half of those who achieved a year of sobriety relapsed. That number continued to tumble as time went on.
But what are the challenges of late-stage recovery? There's no shortage of resources concerning the early stages of addiction treatment, while anything about the late stages is hard to come by. The purpose of this article is to provide a reference for what you might experience after one year sober.
Here are a few things to expect and some helpful tips after one year of abstinence.
So ... what now?
Goals during the early stages of sobriety are pretty straightforward. Stop drinking, create a support network and cope with cravings. It can be comforting having a set of steps to follow in order to piece your life back together.
After a year of mastering your formula to success and building confidence, however, you may end up asking yourself, "What now?"
Things become less clear at this point, which is why it's important to try connecting with others who have had success with long-term sobriety. With limited resources available, it's not a bad thing to seek out more help.
Twelve months of being sober is a great accomplishment, but sobriety is a lifelong journey. Let others help you take the next steps.
More security in commitment
A lot of anxiety can emerge in the early stages of sobriety. The fear of a surprise event or unanticipated trigger that derails weeks or months of hard work can be constantly present. This sense of vulnerability can keep one's brain on high alert and result in fatigue.
After one year sober, you may be able to finally find peace of mind and ease such concerns. This will make way for an increased sense of security in your commitment to sobriety.
There will still be hard moments and challenges to overcome, but they will likely occur with less frequency and less intensity. As you begin to trust yourself, there will be more opportunities for exploration and self-growth.
Desire to kick bad habits
Sobriety can shed light on areas of your life that you previously neglected. You may become aware of things such as poor diet and physical health. These may suddenly be viewed as cause for concern.
It's important to remind yourself to take on problems one at a time. Trying to change too many things at once can be overwhelming. It's also a recipe for disaster and a potential relapse.
Those who are one year sober, or at least comfortable with their situation, are better equipped to take on more tasks. Many of the coping strategies you used during your first year of sobriety can be applied to tackling these issues.
The most important tool you can have at this point is a sense of pride. If you can get through being one year sober, you can get through anything.
Focus on mindfulness
During the early stages of sobriety, you may have found effective mindfulness activities to help you cope with cravings. Meditation, exercise and keeping a journal are among the most common mindfulness practices. They provide a good outlet for processing stress, grief and depression.
Early recovery typically exposes addicts to mindfulness and encourages them to explore many different strategies to deal with life's challenges. These can be fine-tuned and personalized over time. Developing an intricate mindfulness routine to match your needs can lead to a more nurturing long-term recovery experience.
This can include joining local clubs, such as meditation or yoga groups, which may also broaden your social circle. Or, if you prefer, work on your mindfulness alone and explore from within. The beauty of designing a mindfulness routine is that it's unique to each person.
Don't drift away from your support
Sobriety is a lifelong battle. One year sober is something to celebrate, but it's not the end of the road. Life is unpredictable, and the dangers of complacency remain.
It may be enticing to strip away pieces of your support network. The more you do this, however, the dangers of addiction become less apparent.
By unburdening yourself this way, the temptation of having a single sip or reuniting with old drinking buddies increases exponentially. The past might be viewed in a glamorous light while casualties of your actions are forgotten.
If these thoughts surface they should be addressed immediately.
Thoughts on past, present and future
The mantra "one day at a time" is a powerful tool in early recovery. At that stage, thinking long-term and big picture can be overwhelming and discouraging. This can lead to relapse.
After one year sober, however, it's much less difficult for addicts to look forward and imagine future prospects. One might ask, "What am I capable of now?"
Passions and interests that were thrown by the wayside due to addiction can be revisited with a new sense of curiosity and concentration. It might be helpful, too, to consult with your support network. The possibilities will seem endless, and their experience may be of value.
Mental benefits of being one year sober
Staying sober for 12 months appears to boost brain function and happiness, according to a study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
It showed a significant increase in satisfaction with life, a decrease in stress and improved executive brain functioning, which is a process that deals with managing resources and achieving goals. Those who stayed one year sober scored four times as many points in overall life satisfaction than those who relapsed.
Celebrate in your own way
One year sober is a major milestone, but it's perfectly fine to mark the occasion as you see fit. Regardless of how you choose to acknowledge it, remember the recovery process is always evolving. If you maintain a strong support network and grow from your experiences the recovery process may continue.
Got anything to add? Tips for those reaching the 365-day mark? Comment below!