Staying Sober in Crisis: Tips for Getting Through Life on Life’s Terms

1 min read · 4 sections

Life is full of challenges, whether you have a substance use disorder or not. But for people in recovery, learning how to get through tough times without relying on alcohol or drugs is essential to survival. If you stay sober long enough, you’re guaranteed to face to a crisis at some point, whether it be the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a global pandemic. The holidays are also rife with relapse triggers and can feel like a minefield for people trying to remain sober.

Thankfully, sobriety arms us with tools and techniques to help us cope without picking up. Below are some suggestions that have worked for me.

1: Rely on Your Support Network

If support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or SMART Recovery are a part of your recovery plan, don’t be afraid to lean on them extra hard when times get tough. You’ll likely find people who have gone through similar struggles and can offer empathy and advice. Meetings will also help keep you from isolating, which is a common relapse trigger.woman on couch staying sober in crisis

2: Maintain Healthy Habits

Recovery is about more than staying away from substances. It also requires diligence when it comes to physical self-care. This remains true when life gets difficult. Are you getting enough sleep each night? Eating regular meals? Moving your body when possible? It’s easy to forget about basic needs when you’re in the middle of a crisis, but taking care of yourself physically will keep your body strong so you’re less vulnerable to relapse.


The HALT acronym is used frequently in recovery to remind us to pay attention to our needs when we’re caught up in life’s craziness. The idea is to stop (halt!) and ask yourself—are you hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Identifying and addressing these common triggers can be extremely helpful in keeping your recovery on track. In fact, research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information cites HALT as a highly effective relapse prevention tool.

4: Enlist the Help of Professionals

Don’t be afraid to seek the help of trained professionals when the going gets tough.

A therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist can provide perspective and help you process challenging life events in ways that loved ones and support group members may not be able to. There are also specialized groups designed to help with common issues such as grief, divorce, and stress. Taking advantage of professional help can greatly reduce your risk of a relapse.

If you’re struggling with a crisis in recovery, don’t wait to get help. Reach out to us today.

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