Given the challenges of early sobriety, many of us wondered how it was possible to stay sober. Some of us turned to experienced, sober members and asked, “How do you stay sober?” We may have received a different answer from each person we questioned. Some may even have said, “I don’t know.” This seemed confusing or frustrating at times—as addicts, many of us wanted an easy answer or a “fast track” on which to graduate from the program.

Most of us would say there is nothing we can do to guarantee our sobriety. However, it is reassuring to know that we have found that there are actions we can take that go a long way toward helping us on the recovery path. Some of these include going to meetings, reading literature, telephoning, working the steps, writing (keeping a journal of our feelings, for example), meditating, praying and remembering slogans that are meaningful to us. (For a thorough discussion, read the SRA pamphlet, Tools of the Program.)

Going to meetings is crucial to our sobriety. At meetings we find people who really understand, like no one else, what we are going through. Meetings provide an environment where there is freedom of expression and acceptance without judgment.

It is also at meetings where we find other members who are sober. Seeing and being with sober people can be an inspirational experience, showing us that others have done together what we could not do by ourselves. We asked one of these sober members to be our sponsor. We found it extremely helpful to get a sponsor quickly, as it kept us connected to the program.

Our sponsors told us that the first year of sobriety was a time when we needed to focus on recovery, keep things simple and be gentle with ourselves. One suggestion they made was to make no major changes during this period. Many of us found that at this time we did not have the clarity and judgment necessary for important decisions. Our perspective changed radically as our healing progressed. Some of us felt like different people after one year in the program.