Quitting alcohol is an achievement if you are addicted to the substance; however, it does not necessarily mean your problems are behind you. The reality is that most alcoholics are able to stop drinking for a few weeks or months – the difficulty is not stopping but in staying stopped.
Recovery is a Process and Not an Event
Sobriety requires far more than just quitting alcohol. This is because all that giving up drinking does is to get you back to where you were before you fell into addiction. The reasons for the substance abuse would still be there, so if these are not dealt with, it could mean you would either relapse or turn to new addictive behaviours.
They say that recovery is process and not an event because giving up alcohol is just one of the steps needed to achieve sobriety. Ending the physical addiction can lead to some initial improvements in your life, but it is probably not going to be enough to ensure your future happiness.
Dry Drunk Syndrome
One of the dangers for those who only achieve physical sobriety is that they can develop dry drunk syndrome. This is where the individual continues to behave in much the same ways as they did when they were drinking, even though they are sober. Dry drunk syndrome can lead to a very unsatisfying life in recovery, with symptoms including cynicism, unethical behaviour, negative thinking, pessimism, dishonesty, maladaptive behaviours (for example, work alcoholism), and black and white thinking.
Individuals develop dry drunk syndrome because they are not doing the work needed to build emotional sobriety. Those who are newly sober can fall into this trap if they do not begin taking further actions to make progress; it can also occur with those who have made progress but are now stuck.
The Importance of Emotional Sobriety in Recovery
Once you have managed to achieve physical sobriety, it is vital that you begin working on emotional sobriety as well. This is crucial because it is usually the inability to handle emotions that drives many into addiction in the first place. Emotional sobriety means being able to deal with life on life’s terms, no longer feeling the need to turn to addictive behaviours in order to cope.
Some of the key elements of emotional sobriety include:
- the ability to live in the present moment, not be too obsessed with the past and future
- the ability to manage stress levels
- the willingness to face the challenges of life
- realistic optimism about the future
- less likelihood of falling victim to strong emotions
- the ability to foster relationships with others
- the ability to be self-compassionate.
Importance of Dealing with Character Flaws in Recovery
One of the other important tasks many have when breaking free of addiction is starting to deal with their character flaws; this goes hand-in-hand with developing emotional sobriety. Every human has character flaws, so the goal of recovery is not to become perfect but to get rid of those character flaws that could lead you right back to addiction.
The way to deal with character flaws in recovery is to be honest and have a willingness to change. Prolonged suffering in life could a sign that there is something wrong in the way you deal with things. For example, if you are constantly arguing with people it could suggest that you have problems with your interpersonal skills. The goal is to always progress rather than perfection, but it is important to be always willing to look at and overcome character flaws that are holding you back in life.