Why There Is More to Recovery than Sobriety

Posted in: Recovery

August 18, 2016

A woman smiling while looking out at open water

Many people see recovery as simply deciding to stop using a substance and committing to long-term sobriety. This is far from the truth, however. Recovering from substance abuse and addiction actually involves many different components, and sobriety is just one part of recovery. While sobriety during recovery is an integral part of successful recovery, there’s much more to it. And when a person focuses only on sobriety in their own personal recovery process, they set himself up for frustration and discouragement. Instead of looking at recovery as simply abstaining from a certain substance, a person should try to think of recovery as a multifaceted process that consists of several different elements.

Admitting that a Problem Exists

A major component of successful recovery is being able to admit that a problem even exists. SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that in 2012, only 2.5 million of the 23.1 million people who needed to receive substance use treatment at a specialty facility actually did. Out of the 20.6 million people who needed treatment but did not receive it, 19.5 million reported not feeling any need to receive treatment. These figures suggest that millions of people are in denial about their substance abuse or addiction. But for many people, admitting that they are struggling with substance abuse or addiction is the first step toward recovery. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) clarifies, substance treatment doesn’t always have to be voluntary to be effective, but even if a person is compelled by his friends, family, job or the law to receive treatment, he will still need to admit that he has a problem in order to succeed in long-term recovery.

Successful Completion of Rehabilitation

Another essential aspect of recovery is successfully completing rehabilitation. In order for substance treatment to be successful, the NIDA suggests that it incorporate the following elements:

  • Individualized treatment that addresses the person’s multiple needs, including co-occurring disorders
  • Easy access to treatment and therapy
  • Appropriate length of treatment
  • Different forms of therapy
  • Regular assessment of progress along with any necessary modifications to treatment

Successful treatment engages the individual mentally, physically and emotionally, addressing underlying factors that may have contributed to the addiction in the first place.

Succeeding in Long-Term Recovery

Perhaps the hardest aspect of recovery comes after rehabilitation, when the person returns to their normal life and begins long-term recovery. In this stage, pure abstinence will rarely be enough to keep the person sober. Instead, recovering addicts should focus on finding the following forms of fulfillment from positive and healthy things in life instead of addictive substances:

  • Healthy relationships – Having positive relationships can improve a person’s physical and mental health, so it’s important for a person in recovery to make sure that his relationships with friends, family, coworkers and support group members are positive and productive.
  • Positive emotions – A recovering addict should try to focus on the good in life through meditation and thankfulness, and to surround himself with lots of support and encouragement. He should also limit his stress levels as much as possible.
  • Purpose in life – He should figure out what is most important to him and what his role is in those important things. He should then work towards making those important aspects of his life even better.
  • Quality experiences – Setting goals and engaging fully in important activities improves a person’s self-esteem and helps him create healthy habits, which are key to successful recovery.

Recovering from substance abuse or addiction involves many different aspects, not merely maintaining sobriety. By understanding these different components recovering addicts will be better equipped for success.

Get More Information about Recovery and Sobriety

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction and wondering what exactly the recovery process looks like, please give us a call at 615-490-9376. Our admissions coordinators will answer your questions about recovery and sobriety, and they can also help you find a quality treatment center that will work best for your individual needs.

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