The word Sobriety is heavy with expectations that many find difficult. Sobriety is first, and foremost, a choice people make. At one point or another, people choose sobriety to save themselves from the suffering caused by addiction. Many people get defensive when the idea is brought up. Those who suffer from alcohol and addiction cannot bear to imagine a life without the substance because there has been no way of living without it. Eventually, it becomes clear that we have been slowly killing ourselves over time. Our salvation becomes our damnation. Suddenly the one thing that once offered us emotional release only brings pain and consequence.
The literal meaning of the term sobriety is “to not be intoxicated.” In terms of recovery, it is much more than that. It is not a death sentence, it is survival. Sobriety means creating a new paradigm within oneself. It is creating a purpose for life and living in that purpose. It is a commitment to growing in happiness and usefulness to society. It is discovering ourselves and achieving our dreams. Soon enough, the use of drugs and alcohol no longer coincide with our life’s purpose. There are many things that we recover, and some within the first few weeks of sobriety.
Early sobriety can be terrifying, especially going through it alone. Not only is every new person confused, craving, and angry, there is delirium and desperation. Stopping the use of drugs and alcohol can be physically dangerous, but it also comes with emotional side-effects. A lot of the time, we used these substances to numb ourselves from feeling and to cope with traumatic experiences. The pain was unbearable and the substance made it bearable. We became unable to cope with the events that aroused these emotions, and the feelings got stuck in our mind, body, and soul. All of a sudden, in abstinence, we are struck with this unbearable suffering where we begin to feel every emotion we have long since tried to bury. This is the most vulnerable place to be, and also very dangerous because here we are most prone to relapse. But if we stick to the commitment, we get to know anger in its true form. We get to experience love in all its glory. The confusion that comes with these new experiences can be uncomfortable. The professionals at New River are trained in supporting and guiding individuals through these confusing stages of early recovery.
To Thine Own Self Be True
Saying no to a drink or a drug can be extremely difficult in the beginning. Often times, we have to fight the will to stay sober because we are still understanding how to implement new solutions into our lives. We have said, “this is the last time, I swear.” But eventually end up back under the thumb of the substance. Sobriety gives us the chance to question ourselves and finally get an answer. We find out who we really are, and why we needed to drink and drug in order to be okay. We uncover our truths and gain the clarity we need in order to deal with life’s circumstances. The first thing sobriety requires of us is that we get honest with ourselves. When we know our truth, we learn to respond in a way that will defend and protect it. This becomes self-confidence, and most beautifully, self-love.
The scariest idea about sobriety is the one that we have to stay sober for the rest of our lives. “Forever” is a daunting concept for the person who can’t bear the short sober hours alone. Without a solution to our problems, we are left with is confusion and a desperation. Progress comes from our willingness to do what we can to abstain from using. Forever is only one day. The past is gone, and the future has not arrived. One goal of sobriety is to design a new life today, and in turn, ensure a brighter tomorrow. Making peace with our past is challenging, but one that does not have to be done alone. We have access to a supportive community that is willing and capable of helping us work through traumas. All in due time. The beauty of sobriety is that we grace ourselves with time and dedication. These gifts allow us to progress in our recovery and our lives without the pressure of perfection.
Sobriety is a result of consistent, and dedicated work. It can be physical, mental, and spiritual progress. It is part of finding out our truth, what hurts us and what helps us thrive. It is about accepting ourselves as humans with emotions. It is allowing ourselves to feel, and finally, understand why we feel. Sobriety is an effort to be our better selves, one day at a time. We receive the support from people who have been there too. Then, we get to give that support to the person who needs it next. We are never alone.
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