By Clint Fletcher
Sobriety is about refraining from using substances that are causing you harm, and recovery is about your life after addiction.
A common question that gets asked in the field of mental health or addiction treatment is, What is the difference between sobriety and recovery?
Essentially, sobriety is about refraining from using substances that are causing you harm, and recovery is about your life after addiction. It’s a lifestyle you choose that involves active sobriety through one or more 12-Step programs. Those in recovery often find other avenues to heal from their pain as well, like therapy, mindfulness, volunteer work, and physical fitness. While sobriety is about getting sober, recovery is about staying sober.
How to Stay Sober
If you‘re newly sober, you may be asking yourself what you need to do to stay that way. Whether you’ve just joined a 12-Step program or recently completed treatment, it’s important to have a plan in place. While no two strategies will look exactly alike, the following are some must-haves that every plan should have:
Recovery meetings are free and never-ending, online and in-person. They will be your main lifeline to others in recovery. There are many support and peer recovery groups available including those from 12-Step organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Regeneration, and Celebrate Recovery (CR). If you went to treatment, your provider may offer alumni meetings also.
Facing the trauma that caused you to numb out with substances to begin with is crucial to your sobriety. There are psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and licensed social workers who can guide you through your journey. Better yet, look for someone who specializes in recovery. While therapy can sometimes be costly, if you can find a good therapist, it will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
Learning to recognize distorted thinking is a key aspect of staying sober. Your thoughts may not be telling you the truth, causing your self-esteem to be negatively affected by feelings of fear, anger, guilt, or shame. Mindfulness through meditation can help reprogram your brain while keeping you present. Just one guided meditation a day can teach you to have a better relationship with your own thoughts.
Keep other vices that aren’t harmful
Staying sober is one of the most difficult tasks you will ever take on in your life, especially in the beginning. Now is not the time to quit coffee, junk food, video games, or any other safe vice you’d like to be rid of one day. That can come later.
Call your sponsor, call your fellows, call any safe person who will listen and be there for you.
You vs. Your Head
All those who’ve battled addiction come into sobriety with a negative thought process. Whether we were programmed by our childhoods to think this way or we allowed our wounds or trauma to shape us as adults, this is where that nasty, distorted thinking comes into play. Some familiar thoughts for a newly sober person might be:
“Nobody cares about me.”
“I’m a loser.”
“Why would anyone want to help me?”
“I don’t deserve a good life.”
“I’m not capable of staying sober.”
Absolutely none of these thoughts are true, but we can definitely convince ourselves to believe them. For the lot of us, that negative train arrives every morning, and it can be very difficult not to hop on it for the rest of the day. But with help from meetings, recovery fellows, and therapy, you can teach yourself to let these thoughts flow in and out without attaching to them or having an emotional reaction. You can learn how to acknowledge the train going by without jumping on it.
In the beginning, it can be very difficult — if not impossible — to recover on your own without treatment. The Meadows is an industry leader with an evidence-based approach to sobriety, treating every person with trauma-informed care by diving into all different types of trauma (childhood and emotional).
If you or someone you know needs professional help, reach out today by phone, online chat, or email. Our team at The Meadows Texas is ready to guide and walk alongside you on your path to sobriety in a calming environment as you begin your recovery journey.