Make It Til Midnight: Strategies for Staying Sober

Recovering addicts and alcoholics are often overwhelmed by the thought that they are embarking on a path that will keep them away from drugs and alcohol for the remainder of their lives. That span may be too much for an addict or alcoholic to digest during the early stages of his rehab and recovery and a substance abuser’s doubts and fears about his ability to stay sober for the remainder of his life can threaten the success of his recovery. Addiction recovery counselors and therapists address these doubts and fears by teaching substance abusers to approach their recoveries one day at a time. If a recovering addict or alcoholic can last through midnight of any one day without taking a drink or using drugs, he will have achieved a small victory that begins to build a foundation for his continuing recovery. When several of those small successive daily victories are combined, that foundation becomes strong enough to support his future sobriety.

“Sobriety Survival Strategy”
The concept of making it to midnight is more than just a sobriety survival strategy. Genuine long-term sobriety involves more than just staying away from drugs and alcohol. It also involves learning new ways to live and requires a recovering addict or alcoholic to become engaged in the world around him. Some addiction recovery programs describe this concept as teaching a recovering substance abuser to live for the present day, and to let go of regrets about past actions while understanding that nothing is guaranteed in the future.

“Early Phases of Recoveries”
A strategy of “making it til midnight” will very likely be difficult for many recovering addicts and alcoholics who are in the early phases of their recoveries. Temptations and urges are at their strongest in the first few weeks or months after a recovering substance abuser has achieved sobriety. If he does last for a single-day period without drugs or alcohol, the next day will be slightly easier, as will each successive day after that. This does not suggest, however, that the risk of relapse will completely disappear after several months or years of sobriety. A recovering alcoholic or addict can fall into a sense of complacency following a long period of sobriety if he neglects to regularly practice this daily strategy, or he falls away from living for the present day.

“Teens in Recovery”
The strategy of making it til midnight can be particularly useful for adolescents and teens who are in recovery. Younger people have a much longer lifespan ahead of them and they generally do not have the perspective to understand how they will manage that life without the drugs or alcohol that have become integral parts of their lives. Breaking that lifespan into single-day components can change this looming perspective and help them to develop a better focus on the present moment. Teens and adolescents will also benefit greatly from having a group therapy sponsor or someone else who can act as a sounding board to connect with when the urge to use drugs or alcohol strikes them. A sponsor who understands the “making it til midnight” strategy can talk a younger person through the temptations that might strike him, even if that requires an hours-long phone conversation that lasts until the midnight goal is achieved.

“Making it til midnight” is only one of several strategies that a recovering alcoholic or drug addict can employ to help him stay sober. Sustain Recovery Services in southern California develops programs that utilize a combination of these strategies to help adolescents and young adults recover from drug addiction or alcoholism. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information about our services or to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our counselors.