Going through a breakup is never easy, but trying to stay sober after a breakup if you’re in recovery is even harder. Added emotional stress can put a strain on maintaining sobriety and puts people with substance use disorder at a higher risk of relapse. Studies show that breakups may trigger a sense of loss and depression in people. If someone isn’t solid in their sobriety, he or she might experience increased cravings for drugs and alcohol.[1]

After a breakup with a significant other, it’s normal to feel down and to take some time to process your feelings. However, it is also important to take precautions and actively engage in healthy behaviors to support your sobriety. Here are some tips to help you stay sober after a breakup.

1. Lean On Friends And Family For Support

It may be tempting to isolate after a breakup, but this is a crucial time to reach out to your support system. Having friends and family to lean on during this emotional time can help ease the pain of a breakup. Spending time with loved ones can remind you that even though you just went through a breakup, you’re still not alone and help take your mind off of the separation. If you choose to isolate instead, don’t be surprised if negative thoughts, feelings, or even cravings crop up! You have a support group for a reason – use them!

2. Talk About How You Are Feeling

Bottling up emotions is an unhealthy go-to coping mechanism for many people with substance use disorder. Those feelings keep building up and eventually they need to come out. It’s important to talk about those feeling as they come up, instead of just stuffing them down. If you don’t, they will eventually become too much to handle and you might act out in destructive ways. Instead, talking about your feelings will help you process them and ultimately protect your sobriety after a breakup.

3. Do Something That You Have Been Meaning To Do, But Keep Putting Off

Many people have the habit of saying “I’ll do it later.” Whether it’s taking a trip to somewhere new, calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or cleaning out your closet that’s long overdue, these things can help combat boredom and loneliness. Staying busy will provide you with a break from the emotional pain of a breakup and give you a sense of purpose. Even though it is tempting to lay in bed, accomplishing something that you’ve been putting off always feels good at the end of the day.

4. Start A New Hobby

If you’re trying to stay sober after a breakup, consider taking up a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to learn. Taking the time to learn a new skill builds self-esteem and opens doors to meeting new friends. In addition, research shows that engaging in a new hobby improves both mental and physical health because many hobbies are actually therapeutic.[2] This makes getting through a difficult separation so much easier. You’ll feel better and have a sense of purpose, so you’ll be less likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.

5. Take Time To Work On Yourself

After a breakup, building a relationship with yourself can be completely transformative. Spend time on introspection and self-reflecting on what your personal goals are. Working towards bettering yourself will be useful in moving on from a breakup as well as in strengthening your sobriety. This is a time to start to build new healthy habits and reinforce established ones – not falling into old behaviors that lead to relapse.

6. Practice Self-Care

It’s easy to neglect physical and mental health when separating from a significant other, but this can prove to be catastrophic, especially for those in recovery. Instead it’s important to continue to work on maintaining stable mental health as well as good physical health. Be understanding with yourself. Going through a breakup is a grieving process and it will take time to move on. It’s crucial to continue to eat well and exercise regularly to keep yourself healthy. By nurturing your mind, body, and spirit, you’ll be happier, feel better, and be able to stay sober after your breakup.

7. Avoid Talking To Your Ex Or Looking A Pictures Of Them

Having a strict separation period after a breakup is critical if you want to move on. This means not talking to your ex or spending time looking at pictures of them. This gives you the emotional space that you need to successfully get through a breakup – completely sober. By taking time apart, you avoid any confusion or mixed feelings that typically come up after a fresh split. This helps to decrease any emotional distress throughout the process and prevents relapse.

8. Attend A 12-Step Meeting

12-step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or other aftercare support groups provide a safe place for you to seek support after a difficult breakup. Engaging in fellowship at these meetings helps alleviate feelings of loneliness after ending a relationship. You’re also likely to find people who have gone through the same thing and can even offer you additional advice on how to successfully move on while staying sober.

Although it may seem impossible to stay sober after a breakup, it is very doable with the right tools. Stay proactive in your recovery and remember to utilize your support network and meetings during this difficult time. Breakups are a common and painful part of life, but focusing on your recovery can ensure that you get through it without a drink or a drug.

  1. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/jn.00784.2009
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2863117/