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5 Tips for Your First 90 Days of Sobriety

You’re getting sober! Congratulations! Everyone here at Hope is Alive is glad to hear it. But we also know that those first 90 days can really throw you for a loop, so we asked around to some of our staff members with multiple years of sobriety and got their pointers about some of things you might expect, some of the difficulties that might arise, and what you should do about them. So here you go: a few tips for your first 90 days of sobriety.


The Pink Cloud

The Pink Cloud is a phenomenon where you are suddenly high on life—the grass is greener, the birds are chirping more sweetly, the colors are more vibrant, things are beautiful, and you love life. All the feel-good chemicals are happening in the brain…


And then you fall off. That’s just part of the ride. It’s your brain getting readjusted to living without whatever substance you’ve been feeding it, so it has to level itself out.


So what do you do when you fall off your pink cloud? Get grounded! Take comfort in community, mindfulness practices, or even service through volunteering—these are all ways to ground you and get you back to yourself.


“Knowing scientifically what was happening in my brain gave me permission to understand and accept what was going and to be okay with it,” said one of our alumni. “It helped me to zoom out to see what was really happening.”


Ride the Waves

After you detox, it’s often like you’re on a beautiful beach, soaking up the sun. It’s nice, so you get in the water, and then a wave comes out of nowhere and hits you. The wave is big and strong and wild, and then another one comes and another. The waves keep coming and coming. Eventually, you make it back to the beach. You survived those waves, so you get back in the water. And the waves come again, but a little less, and they are farther apart.


This feeling is, again, your brain attempting to restore normality and balance. It’s natural. And the only way to deal with it is just to ride those waves. Accept them for what they are, ride them until they ebb, and then get back into the water of life.



The sleeplessness of early sobriety is tormenting, terrible, and pretty standard. Your brain is (say it with me!) still leveling out, as are your hormones and your body chemistry, and it takes a long time to get regulated. In the meantime, you can pretty much kiss regular sleep goodbye.


So what to do? We recommend not taking sleep aids, since we try to steer clear of all mind-altering medication, but you can use melatonin, essential oils, or even just environmental stimuli to help soothe yourself to peace and tranquility: a sound machine, for example, or reading a good book, or taking a warm bath before you go to bed, finding a good book. It’s also good, if possible, to stay active during the day and make sure your body gets good food and good exercise. Eventually you will sleep. It’s tough to believe, but sleep will come.



Addicts are lovers of chaos. That means that, during your first few months of sobriety, you’re going to want to do and say stupid things. If your mind is telling you to go left, you should pause, consider, and probably go right. We all have an internal compass that points us in the right direction; recovery is a journey of truing up that compass and getting it pointed where it needs to be.


But that requires learning once more (or maybe for the first time!) how to self-regulate. This is key, and it will probably be a lifelong journey for you. It requires self-awareness, what’s for you and what isn’t, what to pick up and what to leave alone.


Which is good to know theoretically. But what do you do when you’re feeling impulsive?


“Get to the closet,” says one of our alumni, not necessarily speaking about an actual closet. “Get on your hands and knees or criss-cross-applesauce and connect with yourself. Connect with your higher power and plead for strength and sanity. Feel yourself in your body. Get grounded again.”


The Battlefield of the Mind

Lots of crazy stuff happens in your mind! So what can you do when you’re fighting a major battle up there? Let others into it! Keep yourself accountable, open yourself up to your community, don’t be afraid to, say, eat a small piece of chocolate instead of going back to your substance of choice.


All this helps you establish a new train of thought, because the solution to the problem lies in helping other people. Your mind has been self-focused for so long that you need to give it someone else to think about—give someone a ride to a meeting, clean the house for someone, vacuum someone’s room, do household chores, ask someone how their day is going, volunteer at an organization, or even just go drive around and pass out granola bars to any unhoused folks you encounter.


This isn’t everything, but it’s enough to get you started and make you aware of some of what you’ll encounter as you journey through your first 90 days of sobriety. Everyone here at Hope is Alive is for you, believes in you, and wants to see you undergo radical life change!