You are in recovery or are now sober. You want to know if there’s a difference between recovery and being sober? Yes, there is a difference between recovery and being sober because each of them has its unique characteristics.
When someone is sober but not in recovery, their symptoms can be difficult to see. But you may start noticing they will be withdrawn, irritable or depressed. In the world of recovery, many professionals view sobriety as the first step in recovery.
Those who are not sober will stay in addiction until they are ready to start in recovery. Or sometimes those who are sober will go back into the life of abusing drugs or alcohol because they never explored recovery. Let’s start with the symptoms of being sober but not in recovery.
Sober and Not in Recovery
When you are sober and no longer using alcohol or drugs you may experience some unsettling symptoms. Those symptoms include:
- You feel alone and isolated
- You suffer from insomnia
- You refuse other people’s support or help
- You still associate with those who abuse drugs or alcohol
- You obsess or think about alcohol or drugs
- You lie about who you are with or where you are
Many dry drunks will have symptoms that may make you think they are abusing alcohol or drugs again. The behaviors a sober person may exhibit are the same behaviors they displayed when they were using drugs and alcohol. That’s because the sober person has never addressed their problematic thinking or behaviors that led them to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Being in Sober Recovery
Being in recovery means you are now sober, but it also means you are addressing the behaviors, problematic thinking, and impulsiveness which led to your alcohol or drug problems. One of the first steps you take in recovery is addressing your PAWS. PAWS stands for Post-Acute withdrawal syndrome.
PAWS is when you feel the symptoms of becoming clean and sober. Symptoms of PAWS range from trouble sleeping to depression. You may feel lackadaisical and not want to shower, eat, go to work, or be with friends. PAWS may be the most difficult stage in recovery. It is this stage of recovery you may need therapy, an anti-depressant, or medical care.
Many people in sober recovery feel like it is the making amends stage that is the most difficult. The difficult part of making amends for whatever behavior you exhibited when you were using drugs and alcohol is you don’t know how to make amends. There is also no timeline or rule book for when or how to make amends.
Making amends is the stage that belongs to you. No one can tell you how to make amends or when. Mental health professionals do agree on two common rules to follow when making amends:
- If when you make amends, you are going to cause more harm than good to someone you shouldn’t do it.
- 1. Prayers, meditation, and thinking about what you did doesn’t qualify as making amends.
You have to be the main participant doing an action that helps ease the past hurts you caused for it to qualify as making amends.
The most dangerous stage is the the overconfidence stage. The overconfidence stage comes when you think you have it all figured out and will never use drugs or alcohol again. No one ever has it all figured out. You may start to skip 12-step meetings or stop going to your therapist because you know how to perform healthy self-care now. It is when you become overconfident, you may need to start your recovery process all over again.
It’s important to remember recovery is always a work in progress. Therefore, you will always be in recovery. Recovery is a lifelong process. But the good news is living in recovery exposes you to experiences, love, adventures, and options you never had when you were abusing drugs or alcohol.
Embrace Life Sober
Embracing life means you are mindful of what life is and how much it offers. Mindfulness gives you the ability to concentrate on the world around you. You begin to realize your thoughts do not define you. You may think you can’t do anything, but your actions may prove otherwise.
You become self-aware and engaged with the people, places, and things around you. It may be one of the first times you feel like you are embracing life. Part of embracing life is accepting you will be in recovery for the rest of your life. You will also need help from mental health professionals and family when you feel the most tempted to use again.
Recovery aftercare programs are like going to a spa to rejuvenate your body. Few people in recovery can go it alone. Part of embracing life is learning how to reach out to others when you are in need or when they need you.
One Step Away
You are only one step away from the rest of your life. You can learn to embrace the colors, events, and people in your life or push them away. The choice is yours. Living in recovery allows you to live honestly, cleanly, and openly.
There is great freedom in living free of fear, free of wondering when and where you will get your next substance. It is that freedom which gives you the ability to start living. One of the most important things you learn while living in recovery is how to let go of situations out of your control. You learn to accept your flaws. You discover the world is imperfect, but it is also beautiful and ever-changing. We are ready to help you find out about the free and color-filled life waiting for you when you live in recovery.