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How to Follow Through on a Resolution to Stay Sober

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The New Year has officially begun, and seeing as it’s still very early in the year, people are probably quickly and seriously striding towards self-betterment. The resolution lists have been created, and we’ve all shifted into high gear. We’re working out, eating healthier, drinking more water… however, in most cases, these resolutions fall by the wayside come February. We start out strong, then we slowly return to our old routines as the first months of the year pass. Why are resolutions so difficult to keep up with? In many cases, we lose sight of our goals because we don’t really have a solid plan of attack. If we want to stick with our resolutions and achieve the personal goals we set for ourselves, there are a few things we can do. We can make sure that we’re working towards one personal goal at a time. We can reward ourselves for a job well done (for example, five days of exercise warrant one day of rest and ice cream). We can forgive ourselves when we slip up, and get right back on track.

When it comes to sobriety, the same rules apply – unless you happen to struggle with an alcohol dependency disorder. One of the most common resolutions is something along the lines of, “I’m going to drink less,” or, “I’m going to cut out drinking for an entire month.” Those who don’t struggle with alcoholism will have no problem sticking to these resolutions. For the alcoholic, however, a mere resolution is not nearly enough.

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When a Resolution Isn’t Enough

If you’re struggling with alcoholism, a resolution just won’t cut it. Why? Because alcoholism is not a matter of weak resolve or a lack of will power – it’s a relapsing brain disease, one that requires serious medical attention in order to be successfully overcome. You might convince yourself that quitting is as easy as making a decision to stop drinking. “This year will be different,” you might think to yourself. “I know that I can make it one full day without drinking… I just have to make it to two days. Three days. A week. A month.” Maybe you do make it two days, maybe three… maybe you even make it an entire week. But when you’re honest with yourself, you realize that drinking still consumes a lot of your thoughts. Maybe you start to bargain with yourself. You think, “I haven’t had a single drink in three whole days. If I have one beer it won’t kill me. I’ll just have one beer, and then I’ll get back on track.” That one beer turns into two beers, which turns into six beers and two shots of whiskey. No matter how we try to manipulate the situation, we always wind up right back where we were.

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Alcohol Withdrawal

If an alcoholic really wants to stick to his or her resolution to get and stay sober, he or she must take some serious steps to ensure that this happens. No, that doesn’t mean pour all of the booze down the drain or lock up the liquor cabinet – it means seek professional assistance. If an alcoholic has been drinking large amounts of alcohol for an extended period of time, quitting cold turkey can actually be extremely dangerous. Stopping use abruptly can lead to serious symptoms of withdrawal. Because alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening, it’s absolutely crucial that the withdrawal process happens under professional medical care. Symptoms of withdrawal might include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Body aches
  • The shakes (uncontrollably shaky hands)
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • High fever
  • Cold sweats
  • Delirium Tremens (the Oxford dictionary describes this medical condition as being “a psychotic condition typical of withdrawal in chronic alcoholics, involving tremors, hallucinations, anxiety, and disorientation”.)

The onset of symptoms will typically occur within the first 12 hours of the last drink, and continue on for the next 48 or 72 hours. Because seizures and delirium tremens can occur, medical supervision is necessary. If you are serious about quitting, checking yourself into a medical detox facility is an important first step. Attempting to withdraw on your own will generally lead to relapse, seeing as the physical symptoms of withdrawal are so harshly uncomfortable. And again, failing to check yourself into a detox can result in life-threatening complications.

Inpatient Treatment

Once the medical detoxification process is complete, inpatient treatment is the necessary next step. The Guardian Recovery is available to assist you every step of the way. We’ll help you detox safely, in a medical environment that offers medicinal intervention when necessary, as well as 24-hour care. While at the detox facility, we’ll conduct a personal, in-depth evaluation. This will help us to determine which inpatient treatment option will be the most effective for you. In most cases of alcoholism, traditional inpatient treatment is recommended – a three-month program, heavily steeped in group and individual therapy. During inpatient treatment, you will learn more about the ins and outs of alcoholism, learn how to maintain long-term recovery, and heal emotionally through ongoing therapeutic intervention.

It isn’t as easy as ‘just stopping’, or formulating a solid resolution and attempting to stick to a plan. The real alcoholic will need to undergo emotional and mental healing on a profound level. Active alcoholism strips a person of their humanity. It can be emotionally devastating, mentally crippling, and extremely difficult to overcome without ongoing support. Even if you do manage to quit on your own for an extended period of time, it’s important to keep in mind that alcoholism doesn’t simply concern drinking. Drinking is a symptom of an underlying issue – one that you will undeniably uncover and work through while in inpatient.

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Maintaining Sobriety Long-Term

Once you’ve completed inpatient treatment, you’ll transfer to a sober living house, where you will live with other sober men or women. Sober living offers continued structure and support while you figure out how to transition back into your day-to-day life – without the use of alcohol. Adjusting to a newly sober lifestyle often takes a level of accountability; one that you can really only find in a sober living community. When living in this house, you will engage in continued aftercare (ongoing therapy, 12 step meetings, stepwork, etc), and eventually, you will be ready to return to your daily routine. But when happens when treatment is over and you’re released back into the wild? How will you stay sober on your own accord, and maintain recovery in the long-term?

While in treatment, you will learn what it takes to maintain sobriety. You’ll be equipped with a special set of tools, and so long as you utilize them when necessary, ask for help when you need to, and continue with your personal maintenance routine, you’ll be just fine. What does maintenance look like? In truth, it looks different for everyone. But it typically includes stepwork, regular attendance at 12 step meetings, developing some level of spiritual connection, helping others, and doing whatever else you need to do to continue healing. If you’ve made the resolution to stop drinking, and you’ve found yourself unable to do so, give us a call today 24/7 at (888) 483-1517 where we are here to help.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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