Alcohol and the Liver – How Alcohol Damages the Liver

What is the Connection Between Alcohol and Liver Health?

Alcohol is America’s most popular addictive substance. But, alcohol and liver issues are quite common among heavy drinkers.

However, if you drink too much, you not only run the risk of developing an addiction, you also expose your liver to potentially catastrophic damage.

This is true because alcohol has a direct impact on how the liver functions.

Liver damage does not happen to heavy drinkers all at once.

Instead, it develops gradually over time.

If you seek help for your alcohol abuse as soon as possible, you can avoid the worst kinds of damage.

You can also limit the other severe consequences of this common form of addiction.

If you are a drinker, it is essential to understand the connection between alcohol and liver health.

Why? Drinking can have a harmful effect on this vital organ, even if you do not meet the definition of alcoholism.

If you drink heavily as a habit, you increase your chances of developing a severe, or even fatal, liver-related disease.

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Alcohol and the Liver – The Basics

Why does alcohol affect how your liver works? First, alcohol is toxic to your body. If too much of it builds up in your system, you can die from alcohol poisoning. This means that your body must find some way to get rid of the alcoholic toxins. If this elimination process did not occur, you would not be able to drink any amount of an alcoholic substance without running into problems.

How does your body eliminate alcohol from your system? It relies on the liver. When you drink beer, wine, or liquor, your body starts to digest it. The toxic parts of alcohol eventually make it to your liver. There, they undergo a gradual breakdown.

However, your liver’s ability to break down alcohol is limited. If your consumption is higher than this organ can handle, you will overwhelm its capacity. When this happens, the toxins in alcohol will build up in your system — resulting in your liver having to overwork to rid the body of the toxins.

If you keep taxing your liver long enough over a period of time, it will start to lose its normal function. This is true whether or not you have diagnosable alcohol problems. However, the real danger begins when you take part in a long-term pattern of heavy drinking. This kind of ongoing, excessive consumption leaves you vulnerable to the worst possible forms of liver damage.

 

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Alcohol-Related Damage is Progressive

Heavy drinking has a progressive impact on the health of your liver. This means that damage to the organ gets worse over time. Doctors and public health experts have a name for this progressive process known as alcoholic liver disease. There are three stages to this disease, including fatty liver or hepatic steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Each of these conditions affects you in different ways.

Fatty Liver of Hepatic Steatosis

Fatty liver gets its name because the condition produces an abnormal buildup of fat inside your liver. This buildup makes your liver grow larger than usual. Some people with fatty liver experience no apparent symptoms. However, others experience things such as:

  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Uncomfortable feelings in the upper right abdomen

The majority of heavy drinkers will eventually develop a fatty liver if they do not stop using alcohol. If you are affected by this condition, it may go away if you halt your drinking and lose weight.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Hepatitis is the name for any significant inflammation within your liver tissue. In people with alcoholic hepatitis, this liver inflammation is widespread. Other symptoms of the condition include:

  • Fatty liver
  • Liver cell death, also known as necrosis

In addition, some affected people have symptoms of cirrhosis. Roughly 10% to 35% of all long-term heavy drinkers will develop alcoholic hepatitis.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is the most harmful form of alcoholic liver disease. It occurs when continued heavy drinking leads to scarring inside your liver. This scarring permanently reduces the organ’s ability to function. If cirrhosis advances far enough, it can cause your liver to fail altogether. This is a dire health emergency. Additionally, some people with cirrhosis also develop liver cancer. Between one and two out of every 10 heavy drinkers will go on to develop cirrhosis.

 

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Alcohol and Liver Damage – How Much Do You Have to Drink?

You are probably wondering how much alcohol you need to drink to damage your liver. Your liver can eliminate 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol in a standard drink in about an hour. This is the equivalent of:

  • One 12-ounce serving of beer
  • Eight or nine ounces of malt liquor
  • One five-ounce glass of wine
  • A 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor

Problems begin when you make a habit of exceeding this level of consumption by large amounts. Signs of liver disease may start to appear after a decade or more of drinking the following:

  • Two to eight beers a day
  • Three to six servings of wine a day
  • Three to six servings of hard liquor a day

If you consume alcohol in even heavier amounts, you run a higher risk of developing cirrhosis. Cirrhosis risks rise along with your level of consumption and duration of hard-drinking. For example, if you drink for 20 years or more, you have roughly a 50% chance of developing cirrhosis if you drink more than:

  • Roughly 36 beers a day
  • About 18 glasses of wine a day
  • Approximately 18 shots of hard liquor a day

These might seem like incredibly high amounts. But unfortunately, some heavy drinkers consume at least this much alcohol on a regular basis.

 

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Limit the Harm with Alcohol Rehab

Not everyone who drinks heavily is addicted to alcohol. This does not mean that non-addicted people cannot be problem drinkers. In fact, you can receive a diagnosis for alcohol problems even if you are not considered an alcoholic. This happens when your non-addicted alcohol abuse seriously damages your day-to-day life.

If you are caught up in a cycle of alcohol abuse, you have many reasons for getting help. Those reasons include avoidance or preventing the long-term effects of abuse/addiction itself. They also include avoidance of progressive liver damage.

For anyone affected by alcoholism, alcohol rehab typically begins with enrollment in a detox program. Detox helps you stop drinking. It also provides medication and support that allows you to cope with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Once your time in detox is done, you are ready for the main phase of rehab, which is active treatment. The assistance you receive during active treatment will reinforce your short-term ability to stop drinking. It will also help you learn how to make lasting changes in your life that support long-term sobriety.

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Learn More About Alcohol and Liver Damage

If you have been drinking heavily for a long time, you are at risk of damaging your liver. In its early stages, alcohol-related liver disease can sometimes be reversed. However, over time, you may develop irreversible damage in this vital organ. No one wants to face these kinds of severe, avoidable health complications.

Before alcohol can affect you in such drastic ways, seek help in an alcohol recovery program. An effective program makes it possible for you to abandon heavy drinking and get sober. It also makes it possible for you to make sobriety an ongoing priority of your daily routine.

If you already suffer from liver damage, rehab is still the best way to limit the harm to your body. Along with providing the right kind of medical treatment, your recovery program will help stabilize your health. It will also help and protect you from even greater physical and mental harm.

For more information on alcohol and liver damage, contact Pathfinders today. We are also your source for trusted information on alcohol abuse and addiction. In addition, we provide top-quality services for all kinds of alcohol use problems.

 

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How to Tell Your Family You Need Help with Alcohol

Why Might Alcohol Rehab be Necessary for You?

Alcohol rehab is a common and effective addiction treatment method.

It is necessary because alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances.

Celebrations, holidays, social gatherings, and stressful situations can lead many individuals to want to enjoy a few drinks.

This normalization makes alcoholism difficult to cope with and admit to.

It may be tempting to ignore it, but that will only work temporarily.

Over time, it will get worse and more noticeable.

Both you and your family will benefit from you attending alcohol rehab if that is what you need to recover.

Trust that they want what is best for you.

And know that at Pathfinders, we want that too.

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How Many People Actually Need Alcohol Rehab?

Nearly 18 million adults in America have an alcohol use disorder.

You are not alone.

If you feel like you are alone, there are several quick fixes to this particular side effect of alcoholism.

Having an open and honest conversation with someone you love and trust will bring a caring companion into the equation.

And contacting our facility to choose an alcohol rehab program complete with therapeutic remedies and support groups will also accomplish this goal.

It will accomplish many other goals too.

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Risk Factors for Alcoholism

Since alcohol is so normalized, it can be difficult to understand why some people become addicted, and others do not.

Genetics is one reason for this discrepancy, and it is one of the most common.

Genetic predisposition accounts for up to 65% of the risk of becoming an alcoholic.

Further, children who grow up with alcoholic parents are up to four times more likely to become alcoholics.

This is a disease that alters your brain chemistry, functioning, thoughts, and behaviors.

If alcoholism runs in your family, your family may already know that you are predisposed.

High-pressure jobs, stressful relationships, peer pressures, and environmental influences are other risk factors for developing alcoholism.

Whatever the reason or reasons may be, our alcohol rehab programs can help.

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Signs You Need Alcohol Rehab

If you are unsure whether or not you should attend alcohol rehab, there are many warning signs to watch for.

One of the most important warning signs is mood changes. Certain underlying mental health disorders are often linked to alcohol abuse.

For example, up to 80% of people who struggle with alcoholism also struggle with mood disturbances.

Depression is very often linked to alcoholism.

Anxiety is also common among alcoholics and alcohol abusers.

Many alcoholics also suffer from increased agitation, blackouts, unexplained accidents or injuries, and appetite loss.

Insomnia and alcohol cravings are common too.

However, of all of the signs that you need alcohol rehab, experiencing withdrawal symptoms after a few hours of not drinking may be the clearest.

If you have experienced troubling withdrawal symptoms or cravings, our medically-assisted detox can help.

Talking to Your Family About Attending Alcohol Rehab

Talking to your family about attending alcohol rehab can be scary.

But, they may already be aware of your alcohol abuse.

Whether or not they already know, admitting that you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery.

This conversation does not have to be shameful. It may be difficult to admit that you have a problem out loud, but you are admitting this to people who want to support you.

In your family, you can build strong support systems.

You can reveal this portion of yourself to the people who are most likely to support you and cheer you on during the recovery process.

First and foremost, as you approach this conversation, remember to be honest. Clearly express what you have been feeling and experiencing.

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Approaching the Conversation with an Open and Honest Mind

Help them clearly and definitively understand what you are going through.

Tell them that you need help.

If you know what this help will look like, share the details with them. If you are still unsure what to do next, ask them to help you research and get your questions answered.

Our addiction counselor is available 24/7 to help address questions and concerns. A simple phone call may be the easiest way to start.

Next, share your reasons for seeking help. This will help them understand better, and it is a good way to hold yourself accountable for your reasons for getting sober.

Ask clearly for their support, understand and acknowledge their feelings, stay calm, and committed to your new goals, and leave shame out of the equation.

What to Expect From Alcohol Rehab

Once you have told your family that you need help with your alcohol abuse, you have completed a major milestone.

Be proud of this.

You have chosen to face your addiction and change your life.

These two tasks will be the primary focuses of your alcohol rehab program.

Depending on your addiction, needs, and other individual factors, we will work with you to choose the care program that will benefit you the most.

We customize each plan to maximize our efforts and give you the highest level of care possible.

During your alcohol rehab program, you can expect to experience a variety of therapeutic methods.

Various therapies, support groups, and lifestyle training are all common rehab methods.

These help you identify underlying issues, triggers, temptations, and mental health concerns that may be contributing to your addiction.

Once you shed light on these problems, it becomes easier to address and overcome them.

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Alcohol Rehab Options

At Pathfinders, we offer a variety of alcohol rehab options to choose from.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions in our facilities.

Among others, we offer:

Each of these programs provides unique benefits, high-level care, and a comfortable and safe facility to focus on your recovery.

The one you enter will depend on your individual needs.

For example, someone with a severe addiction, multiple addictions, or overwhelming withdrawal symptoms or cravings might be an ideal candidate for a 24-hour stay in residential rehab.

Someone with a milder addiction and no underlying mental health problems may be better suited to an intensive outpatient program.

This type of program allows you to live at home and spend nine to 20 hours at our facility each week. These hours will be spent in therapy sessions, meetings, and support groups.

Partial hospitalization programs serve as a middle ground between the two and are ideal for patients with a dual diagnosis. While these care programs also allow you to live at home, they require about 20 hours per week at the facility.

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Pathfinders Alcohol Rehab

With incredible, comfortable facilities and experienced, caring teams, you can trust Pathfinders to give you what you need throughout each stage of recovery.

We offer customized care plans, comprehensive methods, and dedicated services.

We will help you and your family understand your addiction and move past it.

You do not have to continue suffering.

We are available to help as soon as you are ready.

Call us today at 855-728-4363 to see the difference that a Pathfinders rehab program can make.

Alcohol Abuse is on the Rise for Women

Women, Alcoholism, and Alcohol Rehab

Alcohol rehab has been helping women and men overcome troubling addictions for decades.

Alcoholism in women often does not get the attention that it deserves because the common thought is that men tend to drink more than women.

But alcohol abuse is on the rise for women, which indicates that alcohol rehab may be the right solution for women struggling with alcohol addiction.

For many individuals, biology, social pressures, and mood disorders are to blame.

These are just a few of the factors connected to the increase in alcohol abuse rates among women.

If you are battling alcohol abuse or alcoholism, Pathfinders can help.

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Risk factors for Alcohol Abuse in Women

There are several unique risk factors that women face.

Some of these risk factors are biological.

Women tend to weigh less and experience certain mood disorders at higher rates than men do.

This means that women often have lower thresholds for excessive drinking and can become addicted faster.

Juggling full-time careers, family obligations, and social commitments can increase pressure, stress, and anxiety.

To cope with these symptoms, many people turn to alcohol.

After all, it is a normalized, convenient, and common fix.

It reduces stress in the short-term.

It may help you sleep, laugh off stress, or relax at the end of a long day.

And most people drink alcohol at parties, gatherings, holidays, and happy hours, too.

The excessive normalcy of this substance makes excessive use easier to justify.

But alcoholism comes with a wide variety of mental and physical health risks that are less easy to justify.

Before things get out of control, you can use alcohol rehab to effectively turn the tables on your addiction.

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Physical Risks Associated with Alcoholism

Among the wide variety of risks associated with alcoholism, some of the most troubling include the potential health conditions that can occur.

Alcoholics often experience increased risks for strokes, liver cirrhosis, and alcoholic hepatitis.

They are also exposed to increased risks for heart disease, breast cancer, and brain damage.

Research on the effects of alcoholism on different genders reveals that alcohol may be more detrimental to women than men.

The physical health impairments of alcoholism are troubling and far-reaching. But there are concerns to consider in other areas, too.

Many risky or uncharacteristic behaviors are linked to alcohol abuse. For example, intoxicated driving leads to many avoidable accidents and fatalities each year.

Alcohol impairs your judgment, increases feelings of agitation and aggression, and is linked to many violent offenses.

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Mental Health Risks Addressed in Alcohol Rehab

Alcohol alters your brain chemistry.

One of the most troubling risks associated with alcoholism – outside of the physical health concerns – is mental impairment.

It can lead to mental health disorders or worsen existing ones.

Studies have shown that women are more likely to have depression than men are. And, depression is a common mental health disorder among alcoholics.

The link between the two is steady and troubling. Regardless of which came first, each condition can worsen the other.

Part of our alcohol rehab program admission process includes a mental health assessment.

If you are suffering from both an addiction and a mental health disorder, you have a dual diagnosis.

We can help with this as well.

Alcohol Rehab Options

At Pathfinders, we do not believe in one-size-fits-all solutions to addiction care.

No two patients are the same, and no two addictions are the same, either.

We build each program based on the individual needs of the person entering alcohol rehab.

We will work with you to determine the right care methods and settings for your addiction, needs, and circumstances.

We offer a variety of alcohol rehab options to meet these needs.

Among others, we offer:

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Residential Alcohol Rehab

Residential rehab is one of the primary choices for individuals battling substance abuse.

This option offers constant care, support, and guidance, so it is best for those heavily affected by their addictions.

It is also ideal if you have multiple addictions or underlying mental health conditions.

Residential alcohol rehab programs like ours can help you address each of your essential treatment needs.

It gives you the time, space, tools, and resources to focus on building a new, substance-free routine.

It teaches you how to build healthy habits, coping mechanisms, relapse prevention techniques, and support systems.

This particular care setting often begins with a medically-assisted detox.

This eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings while you work on recovering in a safe, comfortable space. It allows us to monitor your progress and adapt as necessary.

The medications we use to ease withdrawals are carefully selected, approved, and professionally administered.

Alcohol detox medications primarily include naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram.

But, there are other care programs that may start with a different medically-assisted detox.

Choosing the right alcohol rehab program is not a task you have to face alone.

We will work with you to choose the right program and customize it based on your needs.

Other Alcohol Rehab Settings

Partial hospitalization programs combine effective care and convenient flexibility.

They allow you to live at home while receiving care in our facility for approximately 20 hours each week.

This is a common and effective choice for individuals with a dual diagnosis.

It helps address mental health and addiction needs when your symptoms are not quite severe enough to require a residential stay.

These programs are very structured and specialized.

Similarly, intensive outpatient programs also allow you to live at home while attending meetings, sessions, and seminars at our facility each week.

These programs require nine to 20 hours each week.

Across the various treatment settings available, many of the treatment methods used in alcohol rehab remain the same.

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Treatment Methods Used in Alcohol Rehab

In any of our treatment settings, we will use many of the same effective, research-based, and comprehensive care methods.

Some of the most common care methods in alcohol rehab include:

  • Medical detoxes
  • Various therapy settings, including individual, family, and group sessions
  • Various therapeutic methods, including behavioral, recreational, motivational enhancement, and occupational
  • Support groups
  • 12-step programs
  • Medication-assisted treatments or medication management
  • Community reinforcement
  • Aftercare planning and services

Residential rehab stays will also include a unique set of care methods that are only necessary during inpatient stays. For example, residential rehab patients will also be provided with three healthy meals per day, recreational opportunities, downtime, and holistic remedies.

Some of the most common holistic remedies in addiction treatment are meditation, journaling, yoga, and exercise classes. These types of care methods help address the needs of both the body and mind.

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Pathfinders Alcohol Rehab

With upscale locations and dedicated teams, Pathfinders is a premier addiction and dual diagnosis treatment center.

We provide well-researched, cutting edge, and effective substance abuse treatments.

We offer only the best to each patient who walks through our doors.

We aim to improve the lives of the individuals, families, and communities we serve.

With over 25 years in addiction treatment, we know exactly how to help you overcome your addictions and find a meaningful and purpose-driven life.

The confidential, comfortable, and peaceful atmosphere we create facilitates deep healing and meaningful connections.

Call us today at 855-728-4363 to see how we can help.

Is it Possible to Live a Completely Sober Life?
This is What to Know

Live a Sober Life with Benefits

When it comes around to Friday or Saturday night, many of us have a routine.

We come home from work, get dressed up, and head out for a good time with friends.

Or maybe we sit down to dinner with a bottle of wine or a couple of beers, or maybe we go over to a friend’s house and smoke a joint.

Alcohol and drugs are so ingrained in our culture that living a completely sober life seems impossible.

But not only is this possible, but it can also come with some amazing benefits. Read on to learn more about how to live a sober life and what great things it can bring you.

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Have Honest Fun

Let’s start off with a simple answer to the question: sober living is possible, and it can bring a number of amazing benefits with it. For one thing, once you’re living sober, you’ll start to have more good, honest fun.

In our culture, there is an idea that you have to be drinking to have fun, but that simply isn’t true.

Think about all the amazing things you could be doing when you’re spending time in a bar, getting high, or drinking at home.

If the sun’s up, you could explore national parks or local museums, and at night, you and your friends could try different cuisines, go see local shows, or have a game night at home.

And best of all, unlike when you’re drinking or using drugs, you’ll remember every bit of fun.

Learn Healthy Coping Mechanisms

In our society, when things go wrong, people tend to turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. Everything from media to friends tells us that the response to a bad day at work is to have a stiff drink.

At the end of the week, we blow off steam and release some stress by tossing a few back or getting high with our friends.

But none of these coping mechanisms is healthy, and none of them get to the root of the issue. When you’re sober, you turn to healthier coping mechanisms like exercise, meditation, journaling, spending time with friends, and attending therapy.

And think about how much better it would feel to wake up on a Saturday morning, not hungover and crawling to the bathroom, but refreshed and ready to strap on your running shoes and go for a jog.

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Find Your Real Friends

One of the big barriers to sobriety for many people is a concern that they’ll lose their friends. After all, if you’re sober, it’s hard to hang out with friends who only hang out in bars or get high.

And since you can’t make lifestyle choices for anyone else, you may not be able to ask them to start doing something else.

We won’t deny that you may lose a few friends during your journey to sobriety. But here’s the good news: you’ll discover who your true friends are along the way, and you’ll have deeper and more genuine relationships with those people.

You become like the five people you spend the most time with, and once you start spending time sober, you’ll discover people who lead you to a better lifestyle.

Set Your Priorities Straight

When you’re using drugs, alcohol or otherwise, your priorities in life become warped. That substance starts to act like gravity, and your need for it pulls everything in your life out of perspective.

You may find that you aren’t where you want to be in your relationships, your career, or your personal achievements.

Once you start living sober, you can set your priorities back in line. You no longer have that substance demanding your time and resources, so you can start looking with fresh eyes at what you want in life.

You can rediscover what’s truly important in life and take steps to make that a priority in your daily routine.

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Discover New Opportunities

Drinking or getting high puts you in a haze in your life, and you may find that you’re missing out on some amazing opportunities. Maybe you’re stuck in a dead-end job because you can’t manage to go above and beyond in your performance.

Maybe you’re in a relationship that’s going nowhere because you can’t see how you could get anything better.

But once you’re sober, those doors start to open back up again. You have more energy and resources to put into doing the best work you can at your job, and you discover that you don’t have to stay in that toxic relationship.

You can begin to move onto better things in your life without the distraction of substance use weighing you down.

Become Financially Free

One of the consequences of drug use we don’t think about very often is the financial impact. Drinks are expensive, and drugs no less so.

You may be spending a lot of your money every week on alcohol or drugs, and that means you have a lot less money to spend in the important areas of life.

Imagine how much money you would have at the end of a year if you took the money you’re spending on drinks or drugs and put it into a savings account.

How long would it be until you could make a down payment on a car or go on a nice trip? How much longer until you could pay off all your debt or buy a house?

Sober Life - A man living the sober life does yoga in the desert. Since he has become sober he takes care of himself and enjoys the things around him.
A man does yoga in the desert.

Learn to Love Yourself

Oftentimes, when we’re drinking or using drugs, it’s because we don’t feel like we’re able to cope with life on our own. We may feel weak or unloved, and so we use these substances to cope.

And if you’ve tried getting sober in the past and failed, that may be weighing on you as proof that you aren’t good enough.

But as with every other area of your life, once you’re sober, you’ll be able to see yourself more clearly. You’ll start to see all the wonderful things you’ve done in your life and the beauty you live in each day.

You’ll also be able to take pride each day in the fact that you’re making the best choices for your life and your health.

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Help Others Around You

Once you’re on the path to sober living, you’ll also be gifted with a tremendous opportunity: the chance to help others around you.

For one thing, you’ll have more resources to contribute to things like volunteering or donating to charities if you wish. But you can also act as a role model to others working to get sober.

When you’re getting sober, you may have a role model or sponsor who helps you along the way. This person serves as an inspiration and a guide through the toughest parts of your journey.

And eventually, you may be able to play that role for someone else, helping them to unlock their best life.

Take It One Step at a Time

So how do you go about pursuing all these benefits of the sober life? One of the big tricks is to take things one step at a time.

If you’re dealing with an addiction, consider seeking treatment and help with both the withdrawal process and the steps to come.

From there, take things one little step at a time. However long you think you can go without drinking or using drugs, do that, and then tackle the next section of time.

This may mean taking things one hour at a time, but if you string enough consecutive hours together, eventually, you have a lifestyle of sobriety.

Find New Hobbies

When you’re getting sober, you may suddenly find that you have a ton of time on your hands. During the time you used to drink or get high, you’re now at loose ends.

And it’s very important to fill that time or it can become easy to slip back into old habits.

Pick up some new hobbies to fill that extra space in your life. For some people, this means working out, and for others, it’s volunteering.

You may get involved with a D&D game in your area or start learning woodworking or cake decorating or start attending improv or ballroom dance lessons in your area; pick something that sounds fun to you, and roll with it!

Be Kind to Yourself

Most of all, during this time, you need to be kind to yourself. Remember, one of the goals of getting sober is to feel better about yourself. And there may be setbacks during this time, but it’s never too late to get up and try again; in fact, you’ll be stronger for doing so.

Take time out for self-care during this time in your life. Reward yourself for hitting certain milestones, and don’t beat yourself up if things go off the rails for a bit.

Surround yourself with people who support you, and do your best to be good to yourself on your journey to sobriety.

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Learn How to Live a Sober Life

Living a sober life can be a challenge, but it’s one that’s more than worth the effort.

You’ll find yourself more fulfilled, happier, more connected, and better off than when you were drinking or using drugs.

Find the support you need, and be gentle with yourself as you journey down the path to a sober life.

If you’d like to start on your sober living journey today, reach out to us at Pathfinders Recovery Centers.

We treat a variety of addictions, ranging from alcoholism to heroin, meth, and prescription pill addictions.

Contact us today to start on the path to living a better life.