Apr 5, 2019 | By Tierni McGinn

10 Skills You’ll Need During Your First Year Sober.


The first year of recovery can be full of ups and downs. For many it’s the first time the feelings of hopelessness and despair have lifted from their soul. It can also be a vulnerable time, when the obsession to use is still powerful and invasive.

Many know the common rules. Don’t date, make any major life decisions, attend 90 meetings in 90 days, etc. These are guidelines to follow established by others who have found success. But what are some other key success tips you may not be familiar with? This article will address 10 key skills and goals for your first year of sobriety.

Accept That You Have An Addiction

The aligns with the first step of AA, “we admitted that we were powerless over alcohol. That our lives had become unmanageable.” Whether in a 12 step program or not, admitting you have an addiction is crucial during your first year sober.

Practice Honesty

Many times in addiction we are caught up in a web of lies. Now is the time to try a new way of life. Practice honesty with those around you. Your first year sober, it will help tremendously.

Avoid High Risk Situations

These can be very personal depending on the individual. If certain family members are triggering, distance yourself. If a certain area of town is full of temptation, avoid it. Don’t attend work planned happy hours – especially the first year sober. Whatever it is, know your high risk situations and stay clear..

Make Time For You and Your Recovery

Recovery is a full time job for you now. This may include making time for meetings, meditation, time with sober friends, practicing your program. Your recovery should be your top priority in life.

Practice Saying ‘No’

Be comfortable finding yourself and changing your way of thinking. You need to get comfortable in saying no to help avoid high risk situations, to practice assertiveness, and to provide self care for yourself.

Take Better Care of Yourself

Make sure your basic needs are met. Start off the day making your bed. Start routines and make sure you include self care.

Discover How to Have Sober Fun

Start a new hobby. Go do those things you always felt too crappy to do before. Now is the time to enjoy your life and live it!

Engage in Physical Activity

Exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones. It’s crucial for your emotional and physical health to engage in regular exercise.

“Play The Tape”

Cravings are inevitable. Help to combat the obsession by reminding yourself what you will lose if you use again. Remind yourself of the consequences.

Keep A Gratitude List

Remind yourself EVERYDAY what sobriety is giving you. Appreciate the world around you. Acknowledge it. Put it in writing. Look at it throughout the day if your mood is faltering.

These are just a few ideas to help you find success the first year sober. I’d love to know what you’ve found success with!

8 responses to “10 Skills You’ll Need During Your First Year Sober.

  • Catriona Woolner

    5 years ago

    Investigate H*A*L*T (are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?) These are well known triggers which can be addressed when we’re aware. All things must pass, even the cravings that feel so compelling, practice sitting with the feelings and letting them pass. Namaste, Nana Treen

  • I found that attending a “beginner” rather than my regular old timer AA meeting was the ticket for me. I attended for about 18 months before I got traction..and that happened only when I decided to start from scratch and try beginner meetings. What a help they were! There are things that happen in that first year that are specifically addressed in depth at these meetings, plus you get a coin for every ten seconds you are sober and those are very encouraging. It’s also helpful to be at the same stage of recovery as your comrades. sometimes a regular meeting can be too intimidating to a newbie..you think you’ll never get there as you listen to someone with decades of sobriety.
    I also recommend same sex meetings whenever possible. There are a LOT of predators in AA looking for new meat, and women especially are vulnerable to assault in early sobriety. Even if you find a meeting without sexual predators, early sobriety can be a painful time and many people try to numb the pain with the high of a new relationship. If that tanks..guess what? So do you!

    • Cari Lendrum

      5 years ago

      Valerie, Your advice is really good. How does one find a “beginner” AA meeting and/women only meeting? Please email me at clendrum@ci.neenah.wi.us. I don’t think I will be notified if you answer back on here.

      • Okay, will do! but for general info purposes..go online to AA and look for meetings in your area. A “B” by the meeting time means beginners. “W” is women, “BB” means its a Big book Discussion meeting, “O” means it’s open to non-alcoholics, etc. Usually theres a key to the abbreviations somewhere on the schedule of the meeting location you pick.
        You can always call The AA World Service # with questions, if you have trouble finding the info you need 212-870-3400 .
        I hope this helps! ( I cut and pasted your email, but it didn’t go through..said it wasn’t valid.)

        • Cari Lendrum

          5 years ago

          I got it as a reply on my personal email which is great too. You are awesome! I had no idea about those letter designations. I am going to post the info on my Neenah Alderman Cari Lendrum facebook page later tonight. Thank you so much!

        • Cari Lendrum

          5 years ago

          Valerie, your response is better advice than the article. I kept your name off but I did post your advice. Maybe it is time for YOU to write an article :). Check out my post on the facebook page Neenah Alderman Cari Lendrum. I feel weird not giving credit to you though :/

  • What about working the steps as fast as possible?
    I’ve tried everything and the steps was the only thing to relieve me from the hopeless state of mind and body

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