When it comes to dealing with alcoholism or drug addictions, in general, there is a distinct difference between achieving sobriety and being in recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, understanding these differences is crucial. How is being sober unlike being in recovery? When an alcoholic or addict attempts to become sober without having some form of assistance, such as therapy or treatment, they are failing to address the underlying reasons that drive them to drink and use drugs. If one fails to address these issues, then sobriety is the only surface and, in most cases, will not last. For an alcoholic/addict to be in true recovery, they must face their past traumas, triggers, and mental health issues and work to develop the proper coping skills to prevent relapse.
Addiction is an incurable disease, but it is not unmanageable. All addicts can find recovery and go into a “remission” stage but must maintain a connection with the program of their choice and a higher power in order to maintain true sobriety. Most addicts find that there never comes a day where they can have “just one” drink or “just one pill”. In the AA Big Book, it says that “one is too many and a thousand is never enough” this statement truly highlights the nature of addiction, as it is not able to be maintained drug or alcohol use, any use at all leads to “jails, institutions and/or death.”
However, becoming sober without going through the recovery process often leads to the development of new addictions as a replacement. Instead of drinking/using, one might find themselves developing cross addictions, becoming addicted to food, sex, shopping, or romantic relationships as a way to fill the void that alcohol once used to fill. Essentially, an addict can become sober without ever making the necessary changes, causing them to struggle even more with mental health or emotional issues. This is more commonly known as a “dry drunk”, which is often characterized as an individual who does not use drugs or alcohol but is still emotionally unable to cope with reality and if often very angry or unstable. Because of the unaddressed underlying issues, this is not a lifestyle that many can sustain and often drink/use again because being drunk/high is better than their current emotional state.
Addicts who are in recovery, however, are in the “remission” phase. While their condition is not yet cured, it is somewhat dormant, allowing them to free themselves of cravings as well as the mental obsession and the underlying issues that allowed their disease to develop. Unlike someone who is sober and had just stopped the addictive act of drinking/using, addicts who are in recovery have found ways to fill the void alcohol/drugs once fulfilled, whether it be through spiritual, emotional, or behavioral solutions they learned through therapy, treatment, or mutual help groups like AA. Additionally, alcoholics in recovery are also able to make significant changes that help promote peace and emotional stability.
When a person is sober, all it means is they are clean and has ceased to drink. Recovery is much more complex and can be defined by the following points:
You might be eager to stop drinking now, but there are no shortcuts through recovery. Invest time into fighting this disease and you will stand a much better chance of achieving and maintaining your goal to lead a happier, healthier life that is free of addiction.
If you are struggling with alcohol addiction and want to reclaim your life, you will need some help to battle this disease. At Acceptance Recovery Center in Scottsdale, we work on a case-by-case basis to create a personalized plan that fits every individual who seeks our help. Reach out to our team today to get started on the path toward recovery, so you can enjoy life once more.
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