By LYLE R. FRIED, CAP, ICADC, CHC In Tools for Recovery
Posted December 15, 2017
The New Year symbolizes a new beginning, so it seems logical to kick-off the year with a commitment to sobriety.
Of course, New Year’s resolutions are notoriously difficult to keep. In fact, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February, and just 8% of New Year’s resolutions are actually achieved.
So what’s the secret to successfully setting a New Year’s resolution? Below are some tips for sticking with goals in general—and sobriety in particular.
Start on December 30th
When people resolve to be sober in the New Year, they often use this as an excuse to have one last binge on New Year’s Eve.
This is not only dangerous, but it also shows “you most likely aren’t ready to stop,” according to sober coach Patty Powers. If you need an extra day to party, you might not be as committed to your sobriety as you think. Powers recommends that people who have been struggling with addiction make New Year’s Eve or December 30th their first day clean instead.
Be vocal about your plans to stop drinking or using. The more people you tell, the more motivation you have to stick to your goal.
Psychotherapist Christopher Murray says, “Don’t do a secret quit. It’s a set up. I know it’s hard when you’ve tried so many times before. It feels humiliating to tell everyone, ‘I’m really gonna [quit] this time.’ But use the force of positive peer pressure and get the support you need.”
In a study conducted by psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, 70% of participants who sent weekly updates about their goal to a friend were successful, while only 35% of people who didn’t talk to their friends succeeded.
Find a group of supportive, positive friends or family members who will keep you accountable throughout the year. This will go a long way toward helping you keep your resolution.
Make a Plan
Simply saying, “I’m going to be sober,” isn’t enough. You need to have a plan. How will you stay sober? What steps can you take to maintain your resolution throughout the year—and beyond?
Commit to attending AA or NA meetings, seeking therapy to address the underlying issues that fuel your addiction, finding a sponsor, going to rehab, etc.
Plan to change your routine. At what point in your day do you normally drink or use? Are there people, places, activities, or things that lead you down the path to addiction? Think about how you can stay away from these triggers moving forward.
Decide to exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep. Maintaining physical health also improves your mental health and helps you feel better, which may also keep you on the path of sobriety. Find healthy new activities or hobbies. Take a cooking class, try yoga, start writing in a journal or painting, etc.
It’s easy to say you’re going to get sober, but you must also take the necessary steps to change your lifestyle and break the pattern of addiction.
Plan for Potential Obstacles
As you’re making your plan, you’ll also want to plan for potential obstacles along the way. Dr. Gabriele Oettingen, a professor of Psychology at NYU, has developed a strategy known as Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions. The strategy is better known as WOOP.
WOOP involves Wishing for a goal you would like to achieve, visualizing the best possible Outcome, identifying possible Obstacles, and making a Plan for how you will overcome this obstacle if it arises.
Write down statements like, “If [possible obstacle], then I will [action or thought].” Know in advance what obstacles might challenge your sobriety and what steps you can take to overcome them, and you’ll increase your chances of success.
People often fail at achieving their goals because they start to seem insurmountable. Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking of your sobriety in terms of “a whole year” or “forever.”
Take it a step at a time, and reward yourself along the way. Give yourself a reward after the first day, first week, first month, and so on. These rewards don’t have to cost money; just do something nice for yourself that you enjoy.
The New Year is a great time to get sober or to recommit to your sobriety. But you want to do more than make a resolution; you also want to keep it.
Take steps like gathering support, making a plan, and treating yourself along the way, and your resolution is likelier to last for the whole year—and beyond.
If you need help, call one of our dedicated addiction specialist today. 1-888-212-4603.