The Difference Between Being Sober and Being in Recovery

Sobriety and Recovery: Two Different Paths

Alcohol and drug addiction often involve lots of myths and misconceptions, some more harmful than others. However, a very common misconception about these addictions and specifically their recovery processes is the difference between sobriety and recovery.

To an outsider, these processes may seem interchangeable – however, they mean very different things to people who are working to overcome their addiction to drugs and alcohol. If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, knowing the difference between sobriety and recovery is crucial.

The Importance of Recovery in Sobriety

Being sober is very different from being in recovery. When someone who is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction tries to achieve sobriety without medically assisted rehabilitation, they fail to understand the deeper issues that contribute to the addiction. Without confronting the psychological and social roots of these issues, they stand a much lower chance of achieving full sobriety. In addition, they run the risk of falling into a relapse.

A person who is trying to overcome a drug or alcohol addiction must address these underlying issues if they want to begin truly recovering and reach full sobriety at some point in their lives. Through a rehabilitation program, they will have to confront these underlying issues through therapy and treatment. As a result, they develop valuable coping skills to avoid relapse and falling into the cycle of addiction again.

What Is Sobriety?

Addiction is not a choice when someone has a physical dependency on a substance that leads to dangerous, painful withdrawal symptoms. While addiction is an incurable disease, those who are trying to overcome it can learn to manage their symptoms. People who are struggling with addiction will need to find a recovery program that works for them to begin their journey towards true sobriety. To do so, they will need to maintain a connection with a program, support group, and a higher power. These support systems will help them maintain sobriety throughout their lives.

Sobriety is the process of completely abstaining from drugs and alcohol throughout one’s life. However, a person who is trying to achieve sobriety must undergo the recovery process in order to successfully maintain their sobriety. Often, people can relapse and begin the recovery process over again – but recovery from addiction is often a repeating cycle. People who go through it can become stronger through solid recovery processes.

Becoming sober without first going through recovery has several risks. First, those who decide to quit cold turkey can develop extremely painful withdrawal symptoms. In very severe circumstances, these withdrawal symptoms can lead to medical emergencies. In addition, they may develop a replacement addiction to fill the loss of drugs or alcohol. Common replacement addictions can include sex, relationships, food, or shopping.

Without recovery, a person can become sober without ever addressing the underlying problems that contribute to addiction. They will continue to suffer from mental health and emotional issues, repeating the cycle and even relapsing. Those who enter sobriety without recovery can become irritable, unable to cope with reality, angry, and unstable.

What Does Recovery Entail?

When someone is sober, they are simply clean and ceased the use of alcohol and drugs. However, recovery involves much more complex processes such as:

  • Changing behaviors that contribute to addiction and relapse, instead of simply changing drinking and using habits alone.
  • Realizing that drugs and alcohol were not the only issue in their life and that these are symptoms of an underlying issue.
  • Understanding that alcohol and drugs often act as a solution to a larger issue in their life.
  • Working through the issues that led to the development of the addiction and developing healthy coping mechanisms and solutions to deal with these issues.

People who are in recovery are in a remission phase – while they still struggle with addiction, it lies dormant. Through therapies and medical treatment, the person can develop strategies to cope with underlying emotional issues and the mental obsession with drugs or alcohol. Through this process, they can learn how to manage their cravings or even free their mind of the cravings altogether.

Unlike someone who enters sobriety without recovery, people who are in recovery can develop healthy mechanisms to fill the void that alcohol and drugs left in their life. They can develop spiritual, behavioral, and emotional mechanisms to handle their feelings and urges through therapy.

In addition, people in recovery develop strong support groups and a network of people who understand their struggles. Group therapy and mutual help groups such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous can provide this support. Overall, people in recovery can make significant changes in their life and develop a sense of peace and emotional stability – because recovery gives them the tools to do so.

How Can You Seek Recovery For an Addiction?

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, it is important to seek a recovery program as soon as possible. Do not attempt to quit the substance and enter sobriety alone – withdrawal symptoms can be very severe and lead to unpleasant and even dangerous side effects. Visiting a recovery center can help you safely detox with the help of a medical staff as well as reduce the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. Visit a rehabilitation center such as Acceptance Recovery Center today to seek help.

Seek Treatment For Addiction In Scottsdale Today

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction in the Scottsdale, Arizona area, you are not alone. Thousands of people suffer from addiction every single year and help is available. You need help to safely detox and battle this disease, moving you on the path to sobriety. At Acceptance Recovery Center in Scottsdale, we offer personal, individualized treatment to each of our patients.

Our facility offers holistic and comprehensive treatment programs for patients struggling with addiction, including substances such as alcohol, opioids, prescriptions drugs, and more. We offer a variety of therapies to fit everyone’s healing style, including:

  • Individual therapy
  • Community integration
  • Art expression therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Primary group therapy, including process groups and therapeutic activity groups
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • EMDR therapy
  • Continuing care planning
  • Relapse prevention
  • Psycho educational groups
  • Trauma therapy
  • Yoga and meditation therapy

Are you ready to begin your path toward recovery and sobriety? Acceptance Recovery Center’s team of professionals can help. Contact our addiction treatment specialists today to learn more about our treatment programs and how you can enroll.

About Dr. Greg Gale, MD

Dr. Greg Gale has been practicing and providing leadership in the field of psychiatry, substance use, and integrated care in the Phoenix metropolitan area for over 11 years. He joins us from his role as a national medical director overseeing behavioral health, substance use, and integrated care services for Humana Behavioral Health. Previously, he was CMO and VP of Clinical Services at Partners in Recovery, a not-for-profit behavioral health and substance use service organization, which operates five clinics throughout Maricopa County. Read more about Dr. Greg Gale, MD