Audio: Top 3 Factors that contribute to successful long-term sobriety

This is Sober Podcast Episode #174 for my weekly sober podcast series.

Gem64 sent me an audio question, asking what are the top 3 things that make it more likely that someone will be long-term sober.

Of course, I started trying to keep the numbers straight in my head but it turned into a bit of a mish-mash. Well anyway, the concepts are all there, but i’m not sure there are “3” things.

Thankfully podcast subscriber Ana Maria sent me this summary: “Belle, the 3 factors I understood were: (1) Do not drift from your sober supports. (2) Do prepare for potentially dangerous situations by having your tool kit with you. The key being “prepared in advance”. (3) Accept shitty days as part of life. Accept that they will come and you can get through them without alcohol.”

Below i’ve posted an extract of the first few minutes from this longer audio (the complete podcast is 19 minutes long).

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment – what do you hear in this audio? Can you rephrase it in your own words? hugs from me


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I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I just wrote a blogpost about the shift I’ve started to feel (day 63) where I’m switching from having Boozeville autopilot to Soberville autopilot. I guess Wolfies gonna pop up through my radio sometimes and I have to learn how to know when it’s him. Basically if it’s anything to do with drinking then it’s Wolfie. How do I stay on track in Soberville? I know the importance of self-care. I talk to other pilots cruising Soberville. I use all the tools that have helped me get here. I radio the watch tower (Belle or another longer term sober support) when I can see I’m going through turbulence. I remind myself that Moderationville leads to Boozeville and I don’t want to go back there.

  • For me it’s about remembering to do my sober supports, avoiding overwhelm, and actually doing something about it if I get to the point where the overwhelm fire alarm goes off, instead of hearing it and doing nothing. If I follow the above my life is infinitely easier.

  • I think to maintain you should keep refreshing your brain with the why’s on a daily basis. In some way. Listen to a podcast, read something new or old on the subject. Take care of yourself. Remind your brain of your choice daily so there isn’t a question of intent anymore. You are committed. Look for the gifts of sober living however small they sometimes may seem and take a moment when you wake up and before you go to sleep to be grateful for the freedom of your soul.

  • Maintaining sobriety is my downfall. Over time I’ve gotten multiple chunks of consecutive days sober, but I inevitably think that I’ve got sobriety down. Next thing I know, with little acknowledged forethought, I’m drinking. Shocked, disappointed, and hungover, I begin again…again. This time I’m listening to you! Don’t drift from supports! When I notice my wobble, I’ll react with more supports and doing less. You say these things often, and I’m finally going to listen, because drinking makes me feel shitty and I don’t want to feel shitty anymore. I don’t have time for that!

  • hi belle, I know contest is over, but just wanted to comment. When I’m going to an event where i know there is going to be lots of drinking, i listen to one of your podcasts on my way to the event. It reminds me of why I’m doing this and also reminds me i’m not alone. So basically, you come to the party with me, as my imaginary friend!! have you ever seen an old tv show where they have the little angel sitting on one shoulder and a little devil on the other? You are the angel sitting on my shoulder feeding me good advice, encouragement and funny little quips.

  • I say to wolfie: F you wolfie! I’ve made it this far by staring in your ugly face and purposefully walking the other way. You offer me nothing. I have nothing to gain and EVERYTHING to lose if I dance with you again. Go stick your ugly head in a vat of something flammable, I’ll be over here enjoying my life, being a better me!

  • I will not deviate from my morning routine of listening to a belle recording. Sometimes it’s the one minute and sometimes it is one if the 100 sober podcasts that I purchased. Hearing her voice every morning is one of my necessary tools to staying sober, now at 125 days.
    I always make sure I am eating something nutritious every two hours. I need to keep my blood sugar stable. Though not diabetic or hypoglycemic getting ravenous without a nutritious food source would put me at risk for a drink,in my opinion.

  • I’m on day 55….Last night I dreamt that I had a glass of red wine and hid the rest of the bottle in my closet. My daughters (17 and 14) found it and I was horrified and ashamed. I woke up feeling horrified and ashamed! And was relieved when I realized it was just a dream. When the Wolfie voice starts chattering in my ear I play out the scenario to the end. I don’t ever want to feel that way again about drinking again. Being a single, working mom, I’m also a ‘sticky note’ person. I rely on them as reminders. My youngest daughter leaves me sticky notes to remind me of the reasons not to drink. ‘Wine doesn’t make you happy’ , ‘You’re funnier when you don’t drink’, etc. They’re a constant reminder of my family’s love for me and the reason for keeping my Sober car on the road.

  • For me I think it means not letting my mind start to engage in hypotheticals – almost like teasing myself by thinking about buying wine then wondering if i could resist the temptation. Why do i do that to myself?! Why make it harder than it needs to be by needlessly testing and needling myself. I need to stop imagining how i might fail in future scenarios that aren’t even happening/ might never happen and just focus on what i am choosing to do right now.

  • This is so true – I had a massive wobble at 6 months because I got too ‘busy’ to access sober supports. The experience was so scary that I am trying to do something for my sobriety every day, even though Wolfie is quiet at the moment. I’ve just moved to a different country and I am setting up new sober supports and routines.. I know what will happen if I don’t.

  • I heard never stray from your support and don’t overdue anything that will add to the stress in your life in order to keep yourself under the wolfie radar in order to keep the fire alarm from going off

  • On day 50 today. When I am busy at work I start to drift and “forget” I am sober now. That liquor store across the street has called my name a couple of times… I have a Sober Pinterest board that I sit and look at on my phone on days like this… Also have met up with a friend at a wedding on Day 28. That became her Day 1, I gave her Belle’s book, and she is on Day 22 today. We text everyday!! I HAVE to keep at it or I will drift right into Mr Liquor Store after work one of these days…

  • I needed to hear this. Tough week…I’ve been sick, my mothers anniversary of her passing is today and we just celebrated our wedding anniversary…sober ? I’ve been struggling a bit as hubby still drinks and I have signed up for your podcast series so sounds like I’m on the right track to keeping Wolfe at bay xxx

  • Don’t drift from sober supports. I love this because it really applies to the rest of my life, as long as I want to stay sober anyway. Not drifting and constant vigilance. Wolfie never dies, he just shuts the fuck up for awhile, so the voice that sneaks in a tries to make me feel bad, or knock me off my path must be identified as wolfie, so I can use my sober tools to knock him out again. I’ve found that he keeps quiet when I stay close to my sober supports.

  • Hi Belle! I’m on day 49. Woohoo! Here’s what I got out of the short audio: 1) be vigilant to avoid overwhelm – if you begin feeling a bit stressed, do something – ask for help; decline or cancel commitments. 2) make sure your support system is in place!

  • That’s exactly what happened to me around day 70. I started to drift, and it became increasingly difficult. You’re right again, belle! It’s so not worth drifting.

  • This is absolutely true. I have had this happen. When I look at it I feel like I start not taking “care” of myself, I get overwhelmed and then I wobble. It’s really a muscle you have to use…the one where you treat yourself with care and compassion so as not to get overwhelmed and allow the wolfie voice to gather strength.

  • 1. In the first few months of sobriety, do NOT drift from your sober supports even if Wolfie has quieted down! 2. After you have more time under your belt, avoid overwhelm and add more supports when Woflie pokes his head out and starts whispering to you. That is an early warning sign, add more supports that tell him to shut the F up.

  • What I hear is to be a good boy/girl scout -which is to always be prepared. Be aware of sly Wolfie’s voice and have a plan of attack when your defences are down. Overwhelm can shake down your defences so you need to fortify in advance by having a plan and the tools at the ready. It”s of no use collecting tools, you have to use them! You have to be active and present in sobriety, don’t ride on the coat tails of your past success and get lazy. That’s when overwhelm or pride gets in the way and makes you stumble.

  • Don’t stray from what’s worked so far, and one of my biggest learning curves which is to learn to be kind to myself and not load my life with things that cause overwhelm. That also means learning to sit still and be with myself instead of filling the gaps with things to do because I’m rubbish at giving myself me time.

  • Exactly what I needed to hear today on Day 71. Found myself experiencing 1) Overwhelm and doing 2) TOO MUCH with work and live over the last two weeks. Heck, I was feeling *so great* so I just went for it. My breathing patterns have changed for the worst and Wolfie has been lurking and whispering to me for the past few days, in fact, for the first time in this sober experiment.

    I’m doing everything to get back UNDER the wolfie radar, reduce my stress response and normalize my shallow breathing. Doing less. Currently taking a vacation day to make it a 3 day weekend. Ordering Belle’s Book. Refreshing my kindle with other sober memoirs. Epsom Salt baths. Magnesium drops. Adrenal support pills from my functional medicine practitioner. Restorative yoga classes. Long nights of sleep and naps. A reflexology foot massage. Healthy-ish food with lots of dark chocolate treats. Long walks. Looking at Pinterest for pretty things and distraction. Drinking a TON of alcohol-free Kombucha.

    Getting by and this is exactly what I need to hear – The fire alarm is going off and I’m taking action – thank you for being a very deep, real and sparkling tool in my tool box Belle!

  • I hear you saying keep using your supports, don’t drift, reach for support before you need it to make sure you don’t relapse. You alone in your head can’t do it so reach out no matter how silly the question and you’re always there for support. If you hear the fire alarm and are not sure get another sober tool onto the layers you already have.

  • Fantastic reminder to avoid overwhelm and not drift from supports. I was just sitting here trying to figure out how to push myself to do more. Lately when I feel this tired but uncomfortable and am stressing about not doing everything I had wanted to today I read what you have written or listen to one of your audios and I am filled with gratitude that I am indeed sober today and for today that is enough. THank you so much Belle for your continual relentless support, ideas and humor.

  • I’m on day 3 right now. I finally have had to concede I’m an alcoholic. About time! I feel so much better already. But I have felt better on 3 days abstinence before and guess what……I drank again anyway, frequently and pretty heavily. 2 DUI’s…last one was 1999. For 10 years after that I never drove drunk. But last few years I have, several times. Time to quit.
    I read your first 30 days, Belle and it was very helpful. Thank you so much. Hopefully when Wolfie comes scratching at my door I can tell him to piss off.

  • This is perfect for me right now. Having tried a few times at staying sober before I discovered you, I realise the power of the personification of ‘wolfie’ literally has the power to keep me sober this time. I always thought the ‘drink now’ voice was really me and it got too loud to bear along with the self criticism for being so weak.

    From this excerpt I heard that I need to be alert to the ways of wolfie, and take heed when the ‘fire alarm’ whizzes in my head. And, this alarm is likely to go off if I allow myself to get overwhelmed, which usually happens if I don’t assert my boundaries and take care of me. I need to NOT let go of the support structure I’ve built, which is where I went wrong in the past too. Fantastic! 🙂

  • Loved this podcast Belle, it was so helpful:) as they all are. You put your finger right on where I went wrong before – not keeping up the supports. That’s why I bought 2 bras to celebrate my 50 sober days! I’ve also heard the most dangerous words in sobriety are “I got this”… this is exactly what you are saying, Wolfie is always always waiting for us to give him a chance to have a say in our lives. Well I’m listening to your words of wisdom & not his crap & I will keep listening & reading your words of wisdom for the foreseeable. Sobriety suits me really well, as AJ says it is a ‘beautiful & precious’ thing & I too love the ‘beautiful & precious’ work that it takes to make it possible:)

  • Love that this is about *staying* sober, which in and of itself implies that sobriety takes work… just like pretty much everything in life. Since it takes works, I may as well enjoy this work. So, since I love my beautiful, precious sobriety, I choose to also love the work that it takes to maintain it. To love the beautiful, precious work that gives me the beautiful, precious thing that I love. <3

  • I always read and listen to what you have to say and you’re my main sober support these days. If I didn’t, I think I might slowly start losing my focus on sobriety. Wolfie doesn’t come knocking very often anymore but I remember one weekend I was home alone – he came loud and clear and was very persistent. I didn’t drink but I also didn’t turn to my tools so that made it that much harder, I’m sure. Now I know it would’ve been much smarter and easier to listen to some of your messages, read, whatever…reach for sober tools. It’s amazing how much what you purposely put into your head, can redirect your brain.

  • Sounds like to maintain sobriety you will always have to be on the look out for tiggers. Mainly overwhelm, which I know will always be my case. Then use your tools and support immediately to extinguish the match before the fire starts. Better to be safe then sorry.
    Scrappy (day4)