How are Sobriety and Recovery Different?
There is a major distinction to be made between being ‘sober’ and being ‘in recovery’. Those who have experienced the very early stages of the recovery process, or who have attempted to maintain prolonged abstinence without the assistance of a recovery program, will surely be familiar with the drastic difference. Those who are unfamiliar with addiction recovery, however, may believe that the only true disparity is a matter of personal choice – do you choose to tell people that you are sober, or do you choose to tell people that you are in recovery? While this matter of semantics if, of course, closely tied to personal choice, it is usually exacerbated by a simple lack of knowledge regarding the two terms.
What Does It Mean to be ‘Sober’?
When an alcoholic is ‘sober’, it typically means that he or she is abstinent from alcohol. An alcoholic who is merely ‘sober’ is likely not attending any variation of 12-step or self-help program, and has failed to address any of the underlying issues that have inevitably played some sort of a role in the exacerbation of chemical dependency. Such issues either acted as contributing factors or developed as addiction progressed – either way, simple sobriety is no cure for such deep-seated troubles. Many ‘sober’ alcoholics will begin to experience a transfer of addictive behaviors soon after putting down the drink. They may begin acting out in other ways, with other compulsions, perhaps relating to food, sex, relationships, shopping, personal appearance, or gambling. The void that alcohol once satisfied is left agape, and the alcoholic becomes desperate to fill it, reaching for whatever temporarily satisfies. Sure, they have quit drinking – but their lives will remain unchanged unless they begin to seek a long-term, comprehensive program of addiction recovery.
Abstinence and Sobriety
Abstinence is a word rich in negative connotation. Abstaining from something essentially means white-knuckling your way through a period of painful and forced self-restraint. Disallowing yourself something because you know that it will ultimately cause you more harm than good. Those who observe Lent will abstain from sugary foods or shopping sprees or promiscuous sex, in some cases. They will be consciously exerting immense amounts of self-will for religious purposes – good motivation, for many. When an alcoholic abstains from consuming alcohol, he or she is similarly likely running on little other than self-will. Many alcoholics come to find, however, that self-will alone cannot keep them sober for all too long. Addiction is not a mere lack of willpower or weak moral resolve – it is a chronic, progressive, relapsing brain disease.
Why ‘Recovery’ is So Important
An alcoholic who is in ‘recovery’ is essentially in remission from the disease of alcoholism. He or she is dedicated to taking all of the necessary steps in order to ensure that an entirely new and better way of life is developed and adopted. Most true alcoholics find that the mental obsession, physical cravings, and general spiritual sickness that accompanies alcoholism will continue to linger or incessantly resurface unless they fill that innate void with something of a thoroughly positive spiritual, emotional, or behavioral nature. While inpatient addiction treatment and the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous have proven successful methods of recovery for many (though inpatient rehab is only the very initial stage), unique individuals require unique programs. Some will need supplemental therapy to work through past trauma, while others – those who simultaneously struggle with psychological disorders – may require regular psychiatry sessions.
At Next Chapter Treatment, we believe that an all-inclusive program of recovery is necessary to a full remission. We have compiled a team of licensed professionals, ranging from therapists and psychiatrists to addiction specialists and holistic counselors. For more information on addiction recovery, or to learn more about our specific program, please give us a call at 1-844-822-7525 today.