One of the things that can prevent someone from entering recovery for drug or alcohol addiction is the sheer unknown about what sobriety looks and feels like. For many people, drugs or alcohol are a way to escape problems, to get high and not have to worry about anything. To live outside of that bubble can seem frightening, and for people who have been addicted for months or years, they simply may not remember what life was like before their addiction took control. But it might be easier to take that leap if they could see what sobriety was really like—and the amazing transformation that can occur.
What Sobriety Looks and Feels Like at the Beginning
When someone makes the decision to pursue sobriety, it is the first step towards a brighter future, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. Many of those issues can crop up during the detox phase, when the body is going through a huge adjustment period. As the drugs and alcohol leave a person’s system, it can trigger a flood of physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, cold sweats, and more. It’s also common to feel depressed, anxious, or upset during this time. The thing to remember is that this phase of the process is temporary and these symptoms will go away.
It is important to start a sobriety journey at a qualified addiction treatment program. That’s where people can get the tools they need to build a strong foundation that will serve them in the days, weeks, and months to come. This is important because the early days of sobriety, as people are readjusting to normal life without addiction, can be a disconcerting time.
One day, a person may feel excited about the renewed promise life holds now that sobriety has arrived. The next day, that same person can come crashing down—doubting if they can make it through the day, guilty or sad about the past, or worried about the future. Without the drugs or alcohol that was typically relied on to navigate through each day, a person may feel raw and exposed.
Because of this back and forth of emotions, it is vital for people to have the tools in place to manage their emotions in healthy ways. That can encompass regular attendance at support group meetings, counseling with a trained therapist, or daily stress management or relaxation techniques that can be used to stave off the temptation to turn to substances instead.
Sobriety shouldn’t be all work and no play, however. It is important to find the joy that comes with sobriety every day, in big ways and small. For instance, people who have entered into sobriety will start to feel better physically and that means they can start exercising. They should find a physical activity they enjoy, whether it’s playing tennis with a friend, dancing, or starting to run half-marathons. Plus, they get the added benefit that exercise is a fantastic mood booster. With addiction no longer consuming all their attention, people will usually find they have more free time once they are sober, and they can devote some of that time to pursuing new hobbies or things they enjoy. These are all building blocks to a thriving sober lifestyle.
How Sobriety Affects Your Loved Ones
Early sobriety is a transition period for the people who live with former addicts, too. Loved ones can also experience a range of emotions. They are probably relieved their partner, sibling, parent, or friend has embraced sobriety, but they may also worry about relapse, or wonder if trust can ever be fully restored. These issues can be compounded if the relationship had fallen into patterns of codependency or enabling.
Both people in the relationship will need to commit to doing the work to rebuilding it. Counseling sessions, done together and individually, can help each person look at the issues involved and how to best approach them. The loved one can also find support through a group such as Al-Anon, which is specifically aimed at helping people who have someone in their life who has struggled with substance abuse. While it may seem daunting in the early stages, this work will pay off down the road.
What Sobriety Looks and Feels Like in Months and Years to Come
Each day of sobriety adds up, and over the months and years, people can establish the necessary habits for a thriving life in recovery from addiction. This is key because life can always throw a curveball or two, but the person who has put in the work and regularly uses their tools can face setbacks without the danger of relapsing. For instance, if there is a financial crisis or a loved one develops a health problem, the person can attend a support group meeting or talk with their therapist to help cope.
Most people who have been sober for a substantial number of months and years will attest that life is richer and fuller. Once they have been freed from the haze of their addiction, people get the clarity to see all they have to be thankful for. They can connect with their loved ones in meaningful and authentic ways, and those relationships will also feel renewed. They can spend time on the pursuits that feed their soul, and they can feel healthy and strong with their bodies clean of substances. Overall, they can feel much better about themselves and the direction their lives have taken. To stay sober for the long term, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Never stop using the tools of recovery, even when life is going well and there doesn’t seem a need to use them.
- Find time to get grounded with meditation or relaxation techniques.
- Eat well and exercise—physical health can boost mental and emotional health.
- People should extend themselves some grace and remember they don’t have to be perfect.
- Develop a support network to talk through problems and be honest about struggles.
- People should check in regularly with themselves so they can recognize if they are falling into negative patterns or encountering potential trigger situations. Mindfulness and journaling are two good ways to do this.
- Never stop looking for the joy that sobriety can bring.
If you are ready to stop wondering what sobriety looks and feels like and you want to actually experience it, contact Casa Palmera today to learn more about our effective and compassionate addiction rehabilitation programs.