3 Important Truths of Sobriety

Recovery gives you a dynamic opportunity to escape addiction and to get a fresh start. Along the way, you also get an education, because most recovering alcoholics have much to learn—from how to withstand cravings and avoid triggers to how they can repair their relationships and financial credit. As a result, it is normal to feel overwhelmed from time to time, so try to keep things simple and focus on fundamentals. To learn three key truths of sobriety, read on.

#1 You Do Not Have to Recover by Yourself

Addiction powerfully isolates people, so, the longer you use drugs and the more severe your habit becomes, the more likely your healthy relationships are to deteriorate. On the other hand, recovery reverses that process to restore connection with loved ones. Although this benefit may seem like a simple perk of sobriety, it is actually one of its bedrocks; some experts even believe that all substance abuse stems from a desire to bond with people. In fact, Peter Cohen, the director of the Centre for Drug Research in Amsterdam, argues that the inability to make basic human connections leads people to seek connection with substitutes such as pills or bottles of wine [1].

Plenty of research touts the link between positive community support and recovery. For instance, one study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that addicts who feel supported and accepted by friends, family members, recovery experts and support-group members are less likely to relapse[2]. Furthermore, recovering addicts who did end up relapsing returned to recovery principles much faster due to such social support. In other words, sobriety is a team effort, a fact that can come as good news in moments when avoiding a drink or drug seems impossible. The key is to reach out to sober, likeminded friends.

One place to find a group of recovery-friendly peers is a 12-Step support group, because they involve people who can break your addiction habits. Membership is anonymous and free, and experts at the Mayo Clinic say that the perks are plentiful[3]. For instance, meeting other recovering addicts can break your isolation, which will remove much of the shame and stigma as you connect with others. Furthermore, being part of a recovery group also takes some of the sting out of anxiety and other negative emotions, as the simple act of talking about your feelings often boosts your ability to cope with them in constructive, solution-focused ways. Lastly, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a third benefit is often overlooked, which is developing compassion[4]. Recovering addicts who demonstrate empathy, care and concern for other people build their self-esteem and confidence so they can become people of integrity no matter what mistakes they made in the past.

#2 Having Fun Helps You Stay Sober

Some alcoholics worry that getting sober means they will never have fun again, but that fear is needless. In fact, taking time to play is a foundational part of a strong, protective sobriety, as it protects you from boredom, a known relapse trigger. In short, when you begin to think your environment is dull, then you may also invite self-pity, anxiety and fear, which can lead to drug abuse. In contrast, if you keep your recovery fresh and anxiety, then you are more likely to be grateful for sobriety and to value the work it takes to stay sober.

Putting this knowledge into action is simple. First, find tasks you like to do, and then do them. You could volunteer for a cause in which you believe, organize a group of people to join a book club, take up scrapbooking or dust off an old musical instrument to enjoy your free time. Furthermore, recreation, hobbies and pleasure trips may seem like little more than fun ways to pass time, but they could actually help save your life.

#3 Relapse Does Not Equal Failure

Even if you end up using drugs again while in recovery, you should know that you are no failure, as many addiction experts believe that relapse is part of the addiction cycle. Just as certain diseases require multiple treatments, substance abuse disorders often require more than one rehab experience before people can maintain long-term abstinence. Unfortunately, some alcoholics view relapse as failure, or worse: evidence that professional treatment cannot help them. However, both thoughts are false, as relapse can be teach addicts to avoid certain problems in the future. This situation may mean recovering addicts embrace sobriety with more energy and commitment the second time around, or that they return to rehab for more insight into their unique triggers and vulnerabilities to drugs.

One therapeutic intervention is designed to target relapse tendencies—especially high reactivity to stress: Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT). According to SAMHSA, this method aims to boost self-control and to strengthen one’s ability to solve problems, manage stress and create social support. RPT also builds resistance to relapse by encouraging addicts to evaluate the pros and cons of continued drug use, to monitor and identify high-risk situations and to create strategies that combat temptation for relapse.

Help for Alcoholism

If you or someone you love struggles to stay sober from alcohol, then know that help is available. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness, so do not go it alone when help is just one phone call away. You never have to go back to a life of addiction if you call now.


[1] Retrieved from http://www.cedro-uva.org/cohen/

[2] Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905509/

[3] Retrieved from www.mayoclinic.org

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