Getting and staying sober is a difficult thing to do. In recovery communities, there’s a couple of popular saying: “all you have to do is change everything about yourself.” This is indicative of the fact that sober alcoholics have to make a lot of changes to their lives if they want to avoid a relapse.

Another adage is recovering alcoholics have to change “people, places, and things” so they don’t drink again. This means that alcoholics who want to stay sober should avoid people they used to drink heavily with, places where they used to drink, and things that they associate with drinking.

Does this mean that simply going to a bar is enough to make an alcoholic drink again? Not necessarily. Here’s what you need to know.

People Places and Things in Early Recovery

When an alcoholic is in the early days, weeks, and months of recovery they are highly vulnerable to a relapse. During this time period, it’s important for the alcoholic to avoid things that may trigger them to drink again. That’s why many newly sober alcoholics are told to change “people, places, and things.”

In early recovery, hanging out with people the alcoholic used to drink with can be very uncomfortable, especially if those people might pressure them to drink. Going places where alcohol is served or where the majority of people will be drinking is a dangerous choice in early sobriety because the temptation is all around. Avoiding activities that always used to involve drinking is also a good choice.

Avoiding all of the people, places, and things is very difficult for an alcoholic in recovery. It means avoiding a lot of what used to comprise their social lives. But it’s an important step to take to avoid relapse in early recovery.

This why many people go to inpatient treatment in order to get sober. A treatment facility provides an environment for them to focus solely on recovery, where they won’t be faced with the temptations of their regular lives.

We Can Go Anywhere and Do Anything When We Recover

Another common saying in recovery communities is “We can go anywhere and do anything when we recover.” This hopeful statement is a promise that one day when the alcoholic has longer-term sobriety, they won’t have to avoid people, places, and things anymore. They’ll be able to go anywhere they want and do anything they want because circumstances will no longer trigger them to drink.

How does this happen? Through hard self-growth work that is done either with a therapist or in a recovery program. Through self-growth work, an alcoholic can discover why they drank alcoholically, heal from the trauma that contributed to their addiction, and learn coping skills that will allow them to face life without a drink.

Once this tough work is done, the alcoholic will very rarely if ever think of a drink. Going places, even a bar, won’t be a problem for them anymore.

You Don’t Have to Drink Again

Relapse is often part of recovery, but it doesn’t have to be. An alcoholic doesn’t ever have to drink again as long as they commit to doing the work to stay sober.

For more information about recovering from addiction, check out the Health and Wellness section of our site.

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