Emotional Sobriety: Why It’s Important in Recovery

Emotional sobriety is just as important as physical sobriety during addiction recovery. So what does it entail and how is it beneficial for sober living?

In this article, you’ll find out all the details you need to know for a successful sober journey.

Emotional Sobriety: Why It's Important in Recovery | Transitions SL

What is the age associated with the onset of addiction?

Some reports claim the age when a person became an addict is also the age at which their emotions stopped developing. It is believed that mental growth is hindered by addiction. If true, this means if a person becomes an addict at the age of 15, their body continues to grow into adulthood but emotionally, they don’t mature. Instead, they handle all problems with a 15-year-old mentality.

If you have ever interacted with an adult addict who throws temper tantrums, runs away, or continues to party with teenagers, this probably makes total sense. There is no reasoning with an emotionally stuck addict because they are still in the rebellious, self-serving adolescent stage.

However, emotional growth and development can be restarted when a person enters recovery and becomes physically sober. Think of your mind as an engine in that classic car in your garage. For years, the engine has been in disrepair, just sitting inside the body of that old car. It hasn’t worked in years. One day, you decide to restore the vehicle. You start with the body of the vehicle. Then, you clean up the engine and rid it of clogs, rust, and other damaging elements. Now when you crank the car, it starts and runs.

Your mind in recovery is kind of like that engine. It needs clarity and to be free from drugs or alcohol so it can start functioning appropriately again.

These processes have been defined in the addiction community as physical and emotional sobriety. The latter has even been associated with the 12th Step in the AA and NA steps to recovery. Many say the restarting process of emotional sobriety is an essential companion to physical sobriety.

Emotional Sobriety Explored

Lives are filled with emotions and feelings. Throughout every day, you face a range of both positive and negative feelings. Most people can manage and balance these emotions to avoid mental or physical harm.

An addict, on the other hand, knows only one way to cope with emotions, to get high. That is their answer for everything because it is much easier for some to get high that deal with anger, fear, hurt, and even love.

Those entering recovery must learn to recognize emotions, regulate them, and healthily respond to them. There are many things they can do to conquer these steps, some of which are listed below.

Continue Treatment

For many, getting sober first means getting physically sober through detox, followed by inpatient treatment. The time a person stays in an inpatient program varies for many reasons. However, what has been discovered is that the longer they stay, the higher the chance of long-term sobriety.

Not everyone can afford two or three months of inpatient treatment. But they don’t let that stop them from continuing treatment.

They choose to live in a sober home until they have reached their goals with behavioral and emotional sobriety.

Sober living homes allow those in recovery to practice what they have learned about becoming emotionally sober in a safe, non-triggering environment with peers. Sober living provides the perfect environment to start building an emotional support system.

Emotional Support System

Everyone in recovery needs positive support. Building a support group has been shown to help people maintain sobriety long-term.

Support team members who can provide emotional sobriety support are beneficial.

These key people will keep a newly sober person in check when it comes to emotions. If they respond to a situation with inappropriate emotions, they can show support by analyzing their reactions.

So, when they get angry and frustrated, they can turn to their emotional sobriety support person rather than to drugs or alcohol. This can lead to emotional education.


Emotional Sobriety: Why It's Important in Recovery | Transitions SL

Emotional Education

Addiction can lead to emotional confusion. It becomes easy to twist the true meanings of emotions. Some may misinterpret love and abuse, possessiveness with caring.

There are common emotions associated with addiction and recovery. Guilt, loneliness, shame, resentment, anxiety, and sadness are a few examples.

Genuinely understanding the meanings of emotions, why you feel them, and connecting them to an appropriate response is vital in a successful recovery. You learn to take back control over your mental and physical reactions over time, showing maturity and commitment to a better life.

Emotional Benefits

Emotional sobriety in recovery allows you to experience benefits that can set you free from the ties of addiction. For example, change is not so scary anymore. You start to see failures as learning opportunities. You can let go of grudges and move on from negative encounters.

Emotional sobriety allows you to become the master of you, instead of a substance controlling you. It gives you the right to make good decisions without the fear of withdrawal or consequences. It means you get to know and like yourself and enjoy your own company. And, you can feel happy for others who are enjoying success.

You will know when you are succeeding with emotional sobriety. Some signs will appear. Even during times of pandemics and social crises, you can achieve success.

Recognize Emotional Sobriety Success

Success in anything comes with ups and downs. Emotional sobriety is no different. Don’t give up, though, because one day you will realize you are living more in the moment and letting yourself experience the life happening around you.

You will not feel the need to run away every time there is a disagreement or uncomfortable moment. You have a desire to help others. And you feel an overwhelming sense of appreciation for being given a chance to live sober.

Over time, your thoughts will focus less on drugs and alcohol and more on setting and reaching your future goals.

Then there will be one day where you realize cravings have been replaced with internal happiness. That’s the day to mark on the calendar, the day you know you have succeeded in your emotionally sober journey. What a great day!

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