The idea of committing to a life where you will always be battling cravings for alcohol or drugs is not going to be very appealing. The suffering of addiction can be intense, but spending the rest of your life counting the days probably does not sound like much fun easier. Thankfully, sobriety is not like this at all. Once people become firmly established in sobriety, they rarely feel like they are missing something because they do not drink or take drugs – and many of them never think this way.
If you have become addicted to alcohol or other drugs then it means that your body has developed a tolerance for the substance; it has needed to adapt in order to keep you alive. The problem is that your body is no longer used to functioning without this substance so, when you stop, you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. The discomfort of withdrawal is usually no worse to the type of thing you would experience from a mild flu. The symptoms can feel much worse though because you know how easy it would be for you to escape them. Most of the discomfort of withdrawals would only last a few days; however, you can have post-acute withdrawal symptoms but even these will not last forever.
As well as being physically addicted, you are likely to be psychologically addicted as well. This happens because you have trained your brain to associate alcohol or drug with reward. It can mean that you find it hard to imagine life without your favourite substance, and it can be the cause of cravings. The good news is that your psychological need to drink or use will diminish over time, and months may go by without you even thinking about it.
Staying sober should get a lot easier once you have put some time between you and your last drink or drug. There are things that could be done to prevent this from happening though and one of these is ambivalence. This means that you are in two minds about your new life, so you are not fully committed to sobriety. It could be that you are just looking for a reason to relapse and, if this is the case, you may deliberately keep sabotaging your own efforts. Under these conditions, staying sober is likely to be hard.
One of the other reasons why staying sober could feel hard would be if you developed ‘dry drunk syndrome’. This refers to a situation where one is physically not drinking or using drugs, but he or she is still acting as if they were in the midst of addiction. The reason individuals usually develop dry drunk syndrome is that they fail to develop emotional sobriety. When people stop making progress in recovery, the usual outcome is that they relapse or develop dry drunk syndrome. As long as the individual remains in this state, it will not be possible to get the most out of this new life.
It varies from person to person but things usually start to get much easier after the first few months – although the individual may still have the occasional bad day. It is generally the case that once the individual has been sober for a couple of years, it can almost be effortless. It is important to never take things for granted too much because relapse has occurred even with those who have been sober for decades.