When the famed American short fiction writer, Raymond Carver, was recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, he made it a point of writing something, anything, every day; much of which was to help him stay sober.

Write Stories was written in block letters on one of his journal pages, and Carver stuck to it. Soon, not only was Carver heralded in the literary world, he was also at his most productive when he wasn’t near the bottle.

His reward: Fellowships, teaching positions, translations of his writing into many languages, and worldwide recognition as one the most prolific short story writers in the world.

In a way, we make contracts with ourselves on almost a daily basis. We withhold ourselves to get up on time to make it to work on time. We contract with ourselves to complete our work tasks, then leave to go home to our families.

In the world of substance abuse, we’re compelled to contract with ourselves to obtain, then keep a sober life. There are no shortcuts, no substitutions, no excuses.

This may sound harsh, but in the end, directness, even at times harshness, is the only way we can keep ourselves on the wagon, and on the path we worked so hard to find.


Think of all the contracts you’ve made in your lifetime. They may have begun when you were very young; a deal you made with your mother when you were a child to look both ways before crossing the street.

Or possibly an arrangement as a teenager to show up on time to your part-time job and work as hard as you can.

And as unromantic as it sounds, there may have been a contract with a significant other that you were seeing, to not see anyone else.

In some cases, contracts may seem flippant, but in reality, all contracts are serious issues of promise, particularly if one or both sides are heavily invested in the contract’s outcome. In short, people could be hurt if the contract fails, which can include a failure of you to keep up your end of the bargain.

The contract of sobriety is serious business. It may not have the consequence of a part-time job or even the union of a first boyfriend or girlfriend experience.

And why?

Because sobriety can be the choice between life and death. It can be the one acknowledgement that can help keep you around for your family and loved ones. This is why the agreement to not drink or to discontinue using your drug of choice is so important.

Here are some tips to help you stay on course with your sobriety contract.


There are no compromises here. You have to fulfill your side of the bargain. If you allow yourself to experience even the smallest partial relapse, you’ve failed your contract.

Stay straight. Don’t even think one little drink, a short line or a half-pill is acceptable. If you do so, you’ve broken your contract, and with that, must start your sobriety process over again.


If you think your sober contract effects only you, you’re incorrect. From family and friends to workmates, everyone is taken aback if you lapse and fall from your obligations.

Of course, in some cases, many of those relationships will either be altered, or dissolved, especially if they supported you throughout your detox and rehabilitation process.

Consider these people once you’ve recovered and embarked on your post-addictive life. How disappointed will they be if you have a relapse?

And how guilty will you feel once they’ve spent their valuable time with you only for you to botch the whole thing by breaking your stay sober contract? Very guilty is how you should feel.


Despite their very best intention, contracts do fail. This is why it’s very important to try the best you can to avoid a breach of your agreement.

There is no compromise or wavering. At this point, it’s all or nothing.


If the advice given here sounds more appropriate for a corporate boardroom meeting, sure, you can look at it that way.

After all, a contract is an agreement, and agreements can involve nearly every aspect and interest that there is in life.

For now, your interest in life is your sobriety. Keep it together by not voiding your contract, and you’ll go far with the deal you made with yourself to stay addiction free.

The rewards are well worth the outcome of you sticking to your sober deal.

If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.

The Sober Contract