May 19, 2016
As you prepare to enter detox and treatment, or as you begin to think about the process of transitioning into independent living in sobriety if you have completed a drug rehab program, there is no need to dwell on potentially negative “what ifs.”
It is true that recovery takes work, that there will be days that are harder than others and moments when you feel nothing but cravings
to drink or get high, but the truth is that there are so many amazing things about being sober that it makes more sense to focus on the positive things that are coming your way in sobriety.
Here are just some of them:
- A new identity: There is a whole new you on the horizon, and only time will tell the person that you will grow into and become as you better understand yourself, heal from trauma, and create goals for the future. The world is wide open, and every aspect of your identity is yours to sculpt. Have you always listened to classic rock or pop music? Explore German polka, flamenco music, Irish punk, and turn-of-the-century blues. Do you usually read novels only? Pick up a biography, a book on earthquakes, or funny first-person memoir. Have you always thought of yourself as a terrible gardener, cook, or photographer? Have you ever considered welding, spelunking, or car maintenance as hobbies? In sobriety, you have the opportunity to break through limitations, learn a little bit about anything, and see if your assumptions about who you are and what you like are correct.
- Unique experience: Just as there is no cookie-cutter formula that will ensure that everyone living in addiction gets sober, there is no one lifestyle or pattern of choices that guarantees happiness and balance in recovery. You have the opportunity to do anything you want, create a unique home space or schedule, or choose an interesting life philosophy that guides you. The choices – all of them – are yours.
- Satisfaction and renewed self-confidence: While addiction can feel like defeat and drudgery, recovery is the opposite. A sense of satisfaction every day that you don’t get high or drink, and a renewed sense of self-confidence knowing that you can set tough goals for yourself and accomplish them every day, will help you to feel stronger in your sense of self, knowing that you can do whatever task you set before yourself.
- A new family: Even if you remain married to the same person you were married to in addiction, hold onto relationships with extended family or children, and essentially change none of the key players in your life, you will find that your relationships with everyone you love are new and stronger in recovery. It can take some time to create this new dynamic, especially if trust was deeply broken during addiction, but over time, you will find that your interactions with the people you love are stronger than they have ever been.
- New friends: In recovery, you will not only meet others who are working toward staying sober as well, but you will also meet people you may never have connected with during active addiction. These new friendships will be far more meaningful and authentic than the ones that were based on little more than a shared dependence on substances, and the new relationships will create a solid support system for you throughout your recovery.
- A new career: Whether or not you pursue the same career track you were on prior to entering treatment, you can move forward in your career and achieve far greater heights in recovery. Learning new skills, acquiring accreditations and degrees, and committing to volunteer work and internships will all serve to make you a great candidate no matter what your goals. All these things are far more easily accomplished when you are sober.
- Clarity of mind: No matter how functional and rational you may have felt during addiction, in sobriety, it becomes obvious just how obscured your thought processes were under the influence of drugs and alcohol. You will likely have a number of “What was I thinking?!” moments as you contemplate your past in addiction, but the good news is that in recovery, you can make positive choices based on continued health and wellness.
- Renewed physical energy and health: Similarly, the ongoing use of toxic substances like drugs and alcohol takes a toll on the body’s ability to function. In addition to the needed recovery time after a binge, there is often diminished immune function and increased bouts of acute illness as a result. Over time, the continued use of these substances can lead to chronic illness like heart disease, certain cancers, and respiratory problems, depending on the substance of choice. Though sobriety will not always reverse all the damage done during active drug and alcohol use, in many cases, it will allow for healing and better management of ongoing symptoms.
- Openness of spirit: When you are not absorbed by a haze of intoxication, you are better able to intelligently explore the spiritual side of your life, if you are so inclined.
- Strength beyond the norm: Living through an addiction, getting treatment for addiction, and learning how to manage sobriety are no easy feats. Your ability to continually return to the positive principles of sobriety define a certain strength of character that only comes with hard work and perseverance.