Sober Is One Thing But Recovery Is Another

Drug DetoxWith millions of people struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, the topic of recovery is becoming more and more popular. You can find men and women talking about rehab treatment and recovery efforts around the water coolers at work, at the doctor’s office, and on the subway.  With the media covering the latest movie stars that have passed away from an overdose or drug abuse, you can’t deny the fact that a massive amount of people are in trouble.

And, those that are struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction want to get sober. Most of them don’t want the monster of addiction to control them, yet they don’t always know how to get sober. Or they may have tried several things in order to recover to no avail.

The various paths to sobriety

Getting sober is important, and fortunately, there are various avenues to get there. Some go to outpatient or inpatient treatment programs, some attend a 12 Step group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Some go to halfway houses, counselors, or some other form of recovery path. There are even some people that head off to an indigenous tribe in another country because they heard that the medicine men have the answers.

The point is that if someone really wants to get sober, there are various options he or she can try. If one way doesn’t work, try another – or feel free to try them all!

Getting sober is only the first step

Now, getting sober is simply the first step to a successful recovery. Putting down the drink is wonderful, but there may still be some issues that you need to contend with in order to experience peace and joy.  If you’ve ever been to a 12 Step meeting and you’ve met men and women who seemed to have it together, and experience life with an abundance of peace and joy, chances are they’ve worked the 12 Step program. They’ve embraced a personal and spiritual development journey that has helped them heal emotionally and learn valuable life skills.

See, if you just stop drinking, but you don’t get to the root issues that may have prompted the drinking, you may still feel miserable. And, feeling miserable may lead you right back to drinking in no time.  By root issues, I mean things like childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, and so on. Perhaps you’ve got deep depression or anxiety going on under the surface. Or maybe you’re struggling with PTSD, codependency, fear, anger, and more. All of those things ought to be dealt with in a healthy way as part of your recovery.

Recovery is a journey

Putting down the drink is wonderful, and important.  Embarking on a recovery journey is a step in the right direction.  Remember that it’s a journey, and it’s about progress; not perfection. Give yourself permission right away not to be perfect.  Many times, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, or we’ll feel like failures. Recognize that life isn’t so black and white. You can make mistakes and not be considered a failure. Mistakes happen, and there are always opportunities to learn valuable lessons.

Growing emotionally

Sammy started drinking when he was a mere 14.  He grew up in a dysfunctional home with a father who was an alcoholic and a mother who was a narcissist. He was neglected and emotionally and verbally abused. He grew up feeling alone and afraid, and instead of being able to share his feelings with his parents or anyone else, he stuffed them. He pushed them deep down and tried to be alright anyway.

When his dad gave him a shot of whiskey at age 14 he realized he loved the way it made him feel. He loved the way it burned going down his throat, and after one more shot, he loved the way the booze made him feel numb.  It was at that point Jimmy decided he wanted to drink, so he didn’t have to feel the enormous amount of inner pain.

Experts state that when one starts self-medicating at a young age like they, they stunt their emotional growth. This means that emotionally, Jimmy essentially stopped feeling as best as he could, and opted not to deal with emotional issues. He swept them under the carpet. When relationship issues arose, he went into “shut down” mode, because he didn’t want to deal with it.

Years later

Now, Jimmy is 44 and has been drinking for a solid 30 years. He’s wanted to quit before because he’s tired and miserable. He’s lost relationships with loved ones and even lost his job – several times. Still, he drinks because he doesn’t know how to cope with life without drinking, and he can’t seem to get past the withdrawal symptoms.

Emotionally, when he hits a rough patch or an argument with someone, he reverts back to that little boy. He acts in an immature way, just as any little boy may because his emotional growth was stunted way back then.

A new path toward recovery

Jimmy, and many like him, want to get on the recovery path, and eventually, a rock bottom shows up in their lives. For Jimmy, this was crashing into a house while drunk, getting DWI and jail time.  Spending time alone in jail without alcohol caused him to really start thinking about his life and his future.  He didn’t want to continue drinking and making poor choices. He could finally come to a place in his life where he admitted he was an alcoholic and he needed help in order to quit. He even considered attending a 12 Step group.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment

When an alcoholic comes to point where he or she is ready to admit that he wants to quit drinking, he has several options to get sober. Many opt to attend either an inpatient or outpatient treatment center. There he will be surrounded by substance abuse professionals who can provide the care he needs to quit drinking, get through detox, and learn how to cope with life without drinking.

Quitting is just the beginning when it comes to recovery. Attending an inpatient or outpatient treatment center is a great way to learn valuable tools when it comes to staying sober and growing.  While at the treatment center, you may be introduced to a 12 Step meeting such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.  There you’ll be able to work through the 12 Steps, which will help you in your recovery efforts.

Giving back in recovery

Once you quit drinking and embrace recovery from alcoholism, you have the opportunity to give back to others who may be struggling. In the way of 12 Step support groups, you can be of service by getting to the meetings early and making coffee, greeting people, chairing a meeting, or cleaning up afterward. By volunteering your time and energy, you not only get to help others, but you feel better about yourself too. Giving is a great way to receive, and means you’re really growing in your recovery journey.

Other ways to grow in recovery

Each person is different, and you can grow in your recovery in various ways. What works for one person may not work in another. For example, Jimmy may really be encouraged by reading books about alcoholism and recovery. He may put a lot of value in his personal development journey. However, Frank may think reading is boring, yet he may really get a lot out of attending recovery meetings and personal growth workshops.  There’s no right or wrong when it comes to this; it’s simply what each person prefers.

Counseling

For many people in recovery, taking a season and going to a professional counselor usually does them quite well.  Underneath that alcoholism is usually some negative feelings that may need addressing. There are all sorts of things that people have the opportunity to bring to the counseling table to work through, like childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, abandonment issues, divorces, setbacks, and a host of negative emotions. You can also learn various techniques that can help you with coping with life sober, conflict resolution, relationship issues, communication skills, and so on.

If you’ve never spent time with a counselor, consider doing so for a season. It may take six, eight, or more sessions to really feel as if you’ve worked through some things.  Keep in mind that if you don’t resonate with one counselor, you can try another. Not everyone aligns or feels comfortable and that’s alright.  You may have to see two or three before you find one that suits you.

The more you work on your recovery via a 12 Step program or some other way, the more you’re able to experience life with more peace and joy.  If you simply stop drinking but don’t work on any issues that you have, you may still go through life angry, sad, lonely, and so on.  Some people call that a “dry drunk”, which means that the person put down the bottle, but still thinks and acts like he did when he was drinking heavily.

Are you seeking to recover from alcoholism?  Have you had enough?  If you’re struggling to quit, consider reaching out for help. Call a rehab, talk to a counselor, or your doctor, attend a 12 Step meeting. The point is that there are certain things you can do to stop drinking and get on the road to recovery. Feel free to give us a call and we’ll assist you in getting started on your recovery path today.