The reason many people give up on recovery is that they were just not prepared for the realities of this new life. It can come as a huge disappointment to individuals to get sober and to find that there is still a lot wrong in their life. The person may have been blaming all of their troubles on alcohol or drugs, but it now turns out there are many other problems as well. The person may then use their disappointment at still having things to deal with as an excuse to return to substance abuse.
The Reality of Getting Sober – What It Does and What It Doesn’t Do
It is unrealistic for individuals to expect that getting sober will automatically fix all of their problems. It is a significant first step towards a better way of living but there can be no real progress unless you do this – but it is still only a first step. The reality is that recovery is a process and not just one event, so by giving up alcohol or drugs, you have begun the process.
There will likely be reasons why you began abusing alcohol or drugs in the first place, and these reasons are probably still there. It is also the case that you may have caused a good deal of damage to your relationships, career, and reputation during those years of substance abuse, so just getting sober might not be enough to fix all of this destruction. If you enter recovery with the expectations that everyone is just going to automatically forgive the past and that there will be no repercussions for previous bad choices, you are likely setting yourself up for disappointment.
Getting sober gives you the opportunity to start making the right choices in your life. It is sort of like planting seeds. During your years of addiction, you probably sowed many bad seeds and some of these may still be yet to blossom in the form of weeds in your life; there may not be much you can do about this accept deal with the fallout. What you can do is begin planting good seeds; this means you will have plenty of good things to enjoy in the future.
It is common for people falling into addiction to have or develop certain character flaws such as inability to manage anger, impulsiveness, unwillingness to delay gratification, and poor ability to manage stress. When individuals get sober, they can continue to suffer because of these character flaws, which is why one of the jobs of recovery is to overcome them. It is important to keep in mind that the term ‘character flaw’ is not being used here in a judgemental way. This is not about people being bad or somehow broken – character flaws are like bad habits that are picked up along the way in life, and they are things that can be unlearned.
Realities Newly Sober People Need To Be Prepared For
- People in early recovery tend to experience an emotional rollercoaster whereby they can be incredibly happy one minute and extremely depressed the next. This happens because of the rapid change that is occurring in their life as well as they fact that they are just no longer used to experiencing their emotions.
- It is common for individuals in early recovery to experience episodes of deep guilt about the past. This is very common, but the best thing anyone can do to make up for the past is to stop feeling guilty and live a better life.
- It can take a long time to win back the trust of friends and family – do not expect the past to be forgotten overnight.
- Every person on the planet is faced with challenges, so getting sober does not mean enjoying a hassle-free life afterwards.
- Making any major life change is stressful, which is why it is so important to have adequate support in early recovery.
- Some people experience a ‘pink cloud’ in early recovery but, when it ends, they feel a bit disappointed – it is important to be prepared for this.