When it Comes to Sobriety, the “Little Things” Make All the Difference

Reaching out
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Eight and a half years ago, I went to a Narconon treatment center for my alcohol addiction. To say it was a low point in my life would be an understatement. I was drinking too much alcohol and smoking pot daily. That being said, I wasn’t taking very good care of myself or my health. My mental, physical and emotional health were all suffering from my substance abuse, and this, in turn, fueled my desire to drink even more because I felt so poorly. I knew I wasn’t doing well, but it wasn’t until I got better that I really understood how bad things had gotten.

Most people know that addiction will impact every area of a person’s life. Someone can compartmentalize things for a while and do okay, but sooner or later, everything will begin to fall apart. It wasn’t just my health that was suffering but every area of my life. I knew this on a surface level, but it was when I did the hard task of working on myself during my treatment program that I really understood the far-reaching ramifications of my drinking.

My job performance, my relationships with others, and my self worth all took a beating during the days of my active addiction. My personal integrity slowly began to deteriorate with each lie I told to maintain my addiction. At the time, the “little white lies” didn’t seem like “that big of a deal,” but the longer I have been sober, the more I have come to realize that when it comes to living a life of recovery, the “little things” make all the difference in the world.

During my treatment process, I was able to realize the things that were falling apart in my life and learn practical steps to get my life back in order. To this day, I continue to hold onto all of “the little things” as best I can so that I can maintain my sobriety. Below are just a few of the examples of “little things” I have found to be non-negotiable when it comes to living a life of recovery.

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This may seem like a no-brainer to someone who has never had an addiction, but when someone is consumed by a life of substance abuse, self-care tends to be one of the first things to go out the window. I have made a point to make sure that each day I brush my hair, do my makeup, brush my teeth, wear clean clothes, etc. Even if I am not planning on going anywhere that day, I still make a point to get dressed in the morning and get ready for the day. I have learned that something is depressing about being in pajamas all day, so I make a point to no longer do that. Again these things may seem pretty simple, but anyone who has been addicted to drugs or alcohol can understand where I am coming from on this one.

Home care

Each morning when I wake up, one of the first things I do is make my bed. Even if I am unable to get any other chores done around my house that day, at least I have done this one small task. This is something that I started during my time at Narconon and has continued ever since. I also make a point to keep up with the dishes and try my best to stay on top of the laundry.


I have come to learn the importance to my overall health of eating healthy, taking my vitamins, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep (or as much as I can having two small children). When life gets busy, and some of these things fall out of place, I notice a huge difference in how I feel. I have learned that all of these things are interconnected and that to stay sober, I need to make sure I am staying on top of these things regularly.


During the height of my alcohol addiction, I often found myself telling many lies throughout each day. At the time, they didn’t seem like that big of a deal, but the longer I have been sober, the more I have come to understand the importance of honesty. I now especially do my best to always be honest. The times I have not been, it has really eaten away at me. In my opinion, when it comes to my sobriety, there few things as important as honesty.

Sober and honest
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When I was drinking all of the time, I wasn’t a very reliable person. I often didn’t follow through with what I would say I would do, and I had a hard time keeping my word. It has taken me a long time to rebuild my integrity and fix the relationships that were harmed by my substance abuse. Now that I have decided to do my best to be a reliable person, I have learned that if I am unable to follow through with something, then I shouldn’t promise to do it in the first place.


When I first got sober, I would listen to the same music I did when I was drinking all the time. After a while, I found that a lot of the songs I used to like gave me cravings. I realized that if I wanted to stay sober, it would probably be a good idea to start listening to different types of music, and now I deliberately only listen to music that makes me feel happy. The same can be said for television and books. I try not to read or watch things that glorify drugs and alcohol because I don’t like the types of thoughts that these create.

It is important to note that although there will inevitably be many similarities between people regarding the things that are important for maintaining sobriety, each person will have their own set of standards they need to live by. This is why it is so important to find a treatment program that will allow a person to develop their own set of guidelines to live by. One of the most helpful things I found about my experience in the Narconon program was that it provided me with a proven set of life skills that I was able to adapt to my own needs and lifestyle. These life skills have been an essential aspect of my ability to achieve a life of long term sobriety.

Whether you have years of sobriety under your belt or you are just starting to consider the possibility of getting sober, I would highly suggest figuring out what the non-negotiable “little things” in your life are. When it comes down to it, all the so-called “little things” add up to the big things over time. And when it comes to a life of recovery, there is nothing bigger than maintaining your sobriety.

Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After overcoming her own addiction in 2012 Julie went on to become certified as an addiction counselor in order to help others achieve a life of recovery. She worked in the addiction field for 8 years and now uses both her personal and professional experiences with addiction as an influence for her writing.