What Is Sobriety? Is It More Than Staying Off Drugs and Alcohol
You have probably heard the term sobriety over and over again. So, what is sobriety? Is it abstaining from using intoxicating substances, or is it something deeper than that?
We have all been involved in situations that do not please us or the people around us. We may have tried to overcome them, but sometimes, we keep returning to the same unpleasant actions, behaviors, or activities. Sobriety is the opposite of that. Sobriety is not being at war with something unpleasant. Yet, it is also not pursuing the pleasant and heartfelt. Instead, sobriety involves gaining self-control and finding an inner freedom from things that can rob purpose in life.
Sobriety does not only apply to drug and alcohol addiction. It can also involve addressing other factors that can harm the healthy self-will we need in our lives. It may be avoiding the candy, soft drinks, or potato chips that you crave, it may be fighting the procrastination that threatens to create a backlog of work on your desk, or it might involve other sorts of potentially harmful behavior.
If you are recovering from drug addiction or alcohol abuse, sobriety does not only mean staying clear of drinking or using drugs. Sobriety is much more complex and defines how you feel about yourself and who you are. If you are sober, you have a better chance of finding peace with yourself and others, enjoying life, and creating a sense of balance in everything you do.
Sobriety Is a Long Journey with Many Potential Pitfalls
Finding sobriety after a period of alcohol and drug abuse can come with many hurdles. Things might progress smoothly one moment, but the next minute, you might plunge into the same unhealthy behaviors. We sometimes underestimate the power of cravings when it comes to recovering from addiction. Cravings can keep pulling us back to lives we do not want to live, and sometimes, the cravings can be so devastating that it can be difficult to make the slightest steps forward to freedom and a life free from drugs or alcohol.
Seeking sobriety can be a tall order, especially in the beginning. Even when you make it through the initial stages of recovery, your hard work is not over and your days will not be full of rainbows and sunshine. Maybe things might be more manageable, but it does not mean that you will smoothly glide through recovery thereafter.
Early in recovery, you may feel so bold that you think you are invincible and that your drinking problem has gone forever. While it is important to feel confident and comfortable in your sobriety, it is also important to remember that you might not completely be free from alcohol- or drug-related problems.
Sobriety is a journey. It is a process. Without learning how to fall and bounce back, you could find yourself with much bigger problems. If you practice recovery tactics, sobriety might evolve more naturally in your life. If someone offers you a drink or drug, you might reach the point where you are able to say, “No, thank you.” That response can be natural and can come from deep down in your heart because you realize that drinking is no longer a part of you.
It is important to develop and nurture the discipline it takes to abstain and remain sober. So, how do you become sober and control addiction for the rest of your life?
Keep Away from Drinking
Yes, this is the starting point in your journey to recovery. You, of course, want to refrain from drinking. However, if you have alcohol in your home or a friend brings you a bottle of your favorite drink, you might face temptation. For that reason, you should think about reducing temptation, especially in the early stages of seeking sobriety. Until you develop sober traits and ways of thinking about alcohol, you are not truly sober. During the first weeks or months of abstinence, many people relapse from recovery and resume using alcohol or drugs.
Once you stop drinking or using drugs, you might experience withdrawal. During withdrawal, you might struggle to keep from drinking or using drugs. You might make great efforts to resist conscious and subconscious factors that might derail your efforts. You might feel as if you are naked and without defenses.
You might be in a very delicate situation, but if you keep working, you have a good chance of fighting relapses. That being said, abstaining from drinking is a good first step, but it is not enough to maintain your sobriety. That is when you begin to understand that sobriety is not just about refraining from or stopping drinking. It is making efforts to respect, love, and care for yourself.
Build Motivation to Lead a Meaningful Life
You might go to rehab because you think that other people see you as a different person. After all, they might have branded you as an addict. You might believe that you have caused great harm to yourself, your family, or even your career. You might not be at peace with yourself anymore.
But, consider seeking treatment for other reasons. The realization that you ought to address your addiction problem could be the cornerstone to achieving your goals. You need to find your motivation and continue to embrace it. Witnessing these achievements could lead you to celebrate these achievements, which could further strengthen your efforts to stay on track in recovery.
You have to create goals and work step-by-step toward meeting them. Work on restoring your health first, then look at your life plans. Determine what you want to do and what you failed to do because you were an addict. Understand that this is your fight and belief in yourself.
Remember that you did not become an addict because you wanted to and recognize that both addiction and recovery are complex. Addiction does not discriminate. Whether you are rich or poor, young or old, it can equally impact your life. Addiction robs you of your inner self, often making you a person you do not want to be. If you do not realize this, you might not endure the challenges you encounter during recovery.
Be True to Yourself
Sobriety often does not come easily. Unless you understand who you are, and how far addiction has taken you, then you may not overcome it. You need to develop personal integrity and respect yourself. You have to be responsible and appreciate that whatever you are doing, it is for your own good, not for someone else. It may seem like a simple thing, but keeping true to yourself can be very difficult.
Find Your Inner Peace
If you are recovering from addiction, you might want to ask yourself, “What makes me feel strong, motivated, and full of hope?” You might stop using drugs or drinking, but do you feel as if you are at peace with yourself? Chances are, you are not. It is difficult for individuals seeking sobriety to define and find inner peace. With all the social stigma, hopelessness, worthlessness, and misconceptions associated with drug addiction, unless you make peace with your inner self, it will be a tough battle.
We can learn how self-love creates harmony by reading the works of energy therapist and author Peri Coeurtney Enkin. In her book Love Letters from Your Higher Self: Holding Hands with Spirit, Enkin writes: “When we are not in love with ourselves, we lose energy, we lose mana, we feel depleted and we’re going through life on half-steam. We don’t have all our resources, the full fountain of well-being. When we generate self-love, we’re tapping into the universal source of mana. Self-love is the doorway to mana.”
When we are in love with ourselves, we feel more content and more willing to nurture our inner needs. This approach can help us create inner peace within ourselves.
Learn That You Are Vulnerable
When we pursue the road to sobriety, we face tests. The peace we seek, the state of mind we develop, the hope we captivate, the confidence we nurture, and the motivation that drives us will be fragile. We will be vulnerable. You need to realize that you will not always be at your strongest all of the time. While maintaining your sobriety, there are times when you will be down and times where you will be at peak levels. When you accept that you are vulnerable and that people will not always see your achievements or celebrate them, then you can protect yourself.
You will need the help of other people, but you have to make wise choices about the people in your immediate circle or network. Try to improve and sustain good mental, social, and physical health by taking part in activities that build these elements. You can exercise at the gym, take yoga or dance lessons, or participate in sports to improve your physical and mental health. Avoid events and situations that produce negativity, such as spending time with unsupportive individuals or people who abuse alcohol and drugs.
Learn How to Share Your Recovery Story
One of the greatest things you can do when you make progress in your recovery is to appreciate it yourself. It is also important to share your story with other people. But, how do you do that?
We know that sharing is healing. When we share bad memories and the strides we have made since then, it gives us more confidence. It opens our hearts and minds and further helps the recovery process.
Before you tell your story to other people, remember that it can impact your recovery. If you are still in the first days of recovery, it means that things can be quite fresh and you might be struggling with emotional pain. It might be difficult to share your story with a large audience. Begin by talking and sharing with people close to you. It might be easier to trust these people in your inner circle. They might be less likely to criticize your story or misinterpret it. Criticism and misinterpretation can hurt you and make you more vulnerable.
However, if you have developed your sobriety and are now more in charge of your life, it might be easier to share your story. You can share your wisdom and help others who might be in the same situation.
Recovery from addiction and maintaining sobriety is not easy. Singer and actress Demi Lovato has dealt with addiction. She explains how it is important to address addiction and other health issues: “Every day is a battle, you just have to take it one day at a time, some days are easier than others and some days you forget about drinking and using, but for me, I work on my physical health, which is important, but my mental health as well.”
Attaining sobriety is not a simple concept. Even addressing it is also not simple. It requires you to bring respect, love, and self-care to create a balance in life to achieve control and create a drug-free life.