Whether you are just starting out on your journey towards sobriety, or you’ve been sober for years, sobriety offers many positive rewards. During early sobriety, you’ll start to rebuild trust with your friends and family (even if it’s a gradual process), notice your physical health improving, get through withdrawals easier as time passes, and make healthy connections with people, places and things, while detaching yourself from toxic and negative influences. With all of the positive outcomes sobriety offers, it’s important to remember that sobriety isn’t like a light switch. Your life, relationships, job, etc. won’t repair themselves overnight just because you are now sober. There’s a lot of middle ground you still have to tackle, and therapy can help you sort through all of these feelings as you take on this worthwhile and rewarding challenge.
Realities of Sobriety
One of the hardest parts about becoming sober is knowing what to expect during the transition from active addiction to sobriety. Being sober doesn’t always look like roses and rainbows. It’s important to set realistic expectations about what challenges and obstacles you’ll face in recovery. You will most likely experience the world around you differently through sobriety. You may experience emotions you haven’t felt in years, which can be difficult or even frightening to cope with or even acknowledge. If you are faced with emotionally difficult challenges, you may question your sobriety or feel the urge to use substances or drink as a way to cope with the uncertainty and discomfort life has thrown your way. Transitioning from an addict lifestyle to sobriety may leave you feeling uncertain, confused, scared, or overwhelmed. By setting the expectation that you will encounter obstacles and uncomfortable feelings during sobriety, you can better prepare yourself to deal with these situations before they arise and set realistic goals as opposed to resorting to avoidant behavior and running away from any emotional discomfort.
In addition to setting realistic expectations and attainable goals, it’s important to have a strong sober support network. If you feel the urge to use or drink, who can you call in the middle of the night for support? Who can you talk to that will understand what you’re going through because they’ve been there before? What professionals can you rely on to help guide you? It’s important to set up a strong network of people who won’t judge you for your past, for relapsing, or for who you are today. If you don’t have that support system in place or don’t know of anyone who can fill that role, a good place to start is finding a therapist who specializes in drug and alcohol addiction and joining a peer support program, such as AA (or other 12 Step programs) and Smart Recovery.
Trusting & Loving Yourself
Sobriety is a journey that can be difficult and even emotionally painful at times, but overall it offers so many positive and rewarding benefits. Loving life’s joys and learning to cope with challenges by relying on yourself, rather than external validations or substances, is what life and the therapeutic journey are all about. Trust your inner wisdom and embrace the challenges that come with sobriety. I know that life can be difficult, and that’s OK. Give yourself permission to be human, to feel, and experience life on life’s terms through practicing acceptance, gratitude, humility, and authenticity. Just keep moving forward as you do your best to handle difficult situations and emotions, practice consistency in healthy decision-making, be mindful of your intentions behind decisions you make, and never be afraid to ask for help. We all doubt ourselves and make mistakes from time to time, but that doesn’t mean we should give up hope or stop striving to become the best version of ourselves.
If you need support, Dr. Heather Violante offers compassionate and judgement free therapy no matter where you are on your journey in recovery. Contact her today to learn more about how therapy can support you on your path to becoming your best self.