For many people who struggle with addiction, and are transitioning into sobriety, the sober lifestyle does not come naturally. The idea that you can have fun while sober – that life is far more enjoyable while sober – is usually quite distant for many in their first few months of recovery. A sober mindset will translate to a fulfilling sober life.
Staying committed to being sober is something you warm up to. As relationships go, however, it can be something of a rocky start for most. Quitting an addiction usually means going through withdrawal symptoms, followed by emotional turmoil during the early recovery period. Even after the first few weeks, it can be difficult to feel comfortable when sober.
This is because, for the most part, there is an adjustment period everyone must go through, from the very first day of quitting and going sober, to the end of the initial treatment process.
Getting used to the sober lifestyle is a big part of successful recovery – it is not enough to quit using and/or drinking. You must enjoy life while sober to stay sober – and it may surprise you just how enjoyable life can be when you are clear minded and aware.
What Sobriety Gets You
Unfortunately, sobriety is not magic. It will not automatically change your life for the better, provide you with good fortune or grant you happiness. Sobriety is a moment in time when your mind is clear, your body is free from drugs, and you’re bearing the full sensory brunt of living.
By being sober, you’re already giving your body and your brain a much-needed rest from the abuse that substance use puts them through. This is a good first step toward better long-term health and longevity.
Give it a few weeks, and you will begin to see massive changes in both mood and thinking. Drug use and alcohol misuse can cause mental impairment, changing and limiting your cognitive abilities, and your ability to reason and remember things. Only time can heal that.
Speaking of time, being sober means having a lot more of it. Addiction can be extremely time consuming, and it can be very expensive. Going sober and staying sober means cutting addiction out of your life, giving you time to:
- Sleep more.
- Focus on your passions.
- Work and achieve your goals.
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Make treasured memories.
Sobriety also gives you the chance to redeem broken bonds and hurt relationships. You can use your regained time to make amends and seek forgiveness or forgive others. Or, you can find new friends and create new bonds.
Overcoming the Fear of Relapse
Once you begin to get used to being sober, the fear that it all might go away grows stronger. That fear, ironically, increases your risk of relapse.
To some, relapse is part of the recovery process. It acts to further understand what triggers the person’s cravings, and it teaches them how to navigate early recovery without relapsing again. To others, a single relapse can be enough to lose all hope of recovery.
Relapsing does not spell failure for your recovery. It is best to think of it as a nasty bump on a long road. Relapses are significant – but only insofar that you should figure out why it occurred and understand how to prevent it from happening again in the future. Having a sober mindset can reduce chances of a relapse by helping change your lifestyle and needs alongside, although it takes a good amount of time and commitment.
The only way to fail at addiction treatment is to give up. But if you simply decide to get back on the horse, resume your treatment and recommit to recovery, then there’s hope yet.
Enjoying Your Sober Mindset
The sober mindset is one where sobriety is not a chore or a challenge, but a fact of life – one you embrace and feel grateful for. It’s not normal for most people who struggle with addiction to easily adopt a sober mindset and lifestyle– but shifting your mindset to seeing it as a new, fresh perspective on life rather than an indomitable challenge can help you better commit to sobriety.
How you go about reframing your sober life into something enjoyable is entirely up to you. Addiction, in a way, tears choices away from you and replaces them with compulsion and self-destructive behavior. But having a sober mindset, you slowly bring back the ability to shape and mold your own life and make your own choices. At first, it will be overwhelming and difficult to manage. Sober living communities exist specifically to help people deal with choice, by slowly introducing it into their lives through structured schedules and events.
Rather than seeing sobriety as an obstacle, see it as an opportunity. Rather than seeing choice as something to be anxious about, see it as a source of freedom. How you choose to see things can drastically affect your sober mindset – and thus, your recovery process.
Getting physically sober is not difficult – all it takes is a little bit of time. The hard part is staying sober long enough to make a meaningful difference in your life, giving your body and brain time to heal and gain a sober mindset, and taking the time to get your life in order as well.
Learning to enjoy your sobriety is an important step in that journey – but be careful not to “burn yourself out” on life. Remember that life is not just all about experiencing, but it is also important to take time and reflect. Take things slow for a while. Find a pace you are comfortable with, rather than racing from one event to the next to keep yourself busy.
To enjoy you sober mindset, you must find something you are passionate about, and pursue it, rather than finding things to distract yourself from the cravings. That might work for a while at first, but lasting sobriety is more involved – as time passes, stress can accumulate in ways we cannot anticipate. Your life may even reach a boiling point, or some unforeseen event might push you over the edge.
We all have moments we could never account for – which is why after treatment, it is important to look towards your support group as a cornerstone to a sober life.
Friends, family, and those you care for the most can help you through difficult situations, keeping you company through troubled times, and making sure you don’t stray from your sober path. Aside from regularly going to group therapy and helping others figure out their own way towards staying sober, remember that the people closest to you are ultimately those whose support you need the most.