While in a certain sense it’s abstract, sobriety is easy to define in the straightforward sense. It’s a person who isn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol and who doesn’t take drugs or drink.
Sobriety is the state of being sober in other words.
That’s where some abstraction comes into play because oftentimes you might find people using the words “sobriety” and “recovery” in place of each other. It’s worth exploring the distinction between the two.
The Difference Between Sobriety and Recovery
As is well known by now, addiction is a mental issue that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines as “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. Those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs.”
Those functional changes to the brain and the long-lasting nature of it, even after you’ve quit using, are what color the difference.
The state of sobriety is momentary and passive in a way while recovery is the active process of staying sober. One that requires diligence, constant attention to your state of mind, situational awareness, and continuous work on addressing the underlying cause of your initial substance use disorder.
Recovery is the journey of staying sober and achieving the long-lasting sobriety you deserve.
What Are the Different Ways to Achieve Sobriety?
That said, and given that sobriety takes commitment and effort, there are options in how to achieve it.
First things first, deciding you want to change your life and nix the addiction that controls it is quite frankly life-altering. You’ll look back at recognizing the need and want to live a life that you’re in command of as a pivotal moment in your life.
That’s when the journey towards sobriety begins.
To achieve it in the literal sense, you’ll need to go through a detox which is your body’s natural process of ridding itself of the chemicals you’ve been putting, be it alcohol or drugs.
It’s recommended to do this at a treatment center as detoxification can lead to potentially severe withdrawal symptoms – your body and mind have grown accustomed to functioning with drugs or alcohol, stop taking them and it throws your system out of whack – and 24/7 care and attention ensures you get through them as comfortably as possible.
At that point, by the definition of the word, you are sober.
But because you haven’t worked through the root issues that led you to take substances, your sobriety is extremely fragile and any inconvenience or problem that arises which you’re not ready for, big or small, can trigger a relapse.
That’s where the active work of recovery comes in to support your newly won sobriety.
Depending on your addiction and how serious it was, it’s highly advised that you attend some type of treatment since detox isn’t a solution by itself. For less severe substance use disorders, outpatient or intensive outpatient care is generally suitable whereas, for heavier addictions, inpatient care is likely to be more effective. Rest assured though, no matter which rehab center you choose, each person is assessed on an individual basis, and recommendations are made according to that.
With rehab, you truly dig into the causes of your addiction and develop new, healthy coping mechanisms to use in place of substances, with treatment centered on talk therapy in both individual and group settings that serve as a foundation for sobriety.
The difference between inpatient and outpatient care is that with inpatient care you live at the facility and thus it’s more regimented and controlled, hence why it’s recommended for those with more severe addictions.
Once you finish rehab, participating in aftercare is how you maintain that sobriety you’ve worked so hard to achieve. That can include alumni groups, support groups like AA, NA, SMART Recovery, etc. sober living homes, and more.
If achieving sobriety is something you or a loved one has had difficulty with, reach out to us at Multi Concept Recovery and we can walk you through options that might help.