What is sobriety?
Sobriety is the state of being sober and abstaining from using alcohol or other mood-altering drugs. In early recovery, staying clean and sober should be your top priority. It will be a daily challenge that you will have to prepare for.
As a recovering person, you will be faced with many types of high-risk situations that could contribute to a relapse. You will have to decide how to avoid these situations on a daily basis. For instance, any setting that has the potential for “bad news”—such as a doctor appointment, a court proceeding, or a meet- ing with someone who has “pushed our buttons” in the past—can be a problem. Anticipate this, and plan ways to handle them without using. In early recovery you do not yet have all the skills to handle some high-stress situations safely. Relapse prevention planning is a proactive way to protect your sobriety: for example, deciding not to associate with certain people or not attend certain events. Remember that no attitude, person, or event is worth a return to chemical use.
How does sobriety affect your lifelong recovery?
Abstinence from alcohol and other mood-altering drugs is the critical first step on your way toward lifelong recovery. By remaining free of substances, you stop the vicious cycle of use that results in negative consequences, only to be followed by more use. Embrace Step One—make a conscious decision to admit that no matter how strong your willpower, it alone can’t stop you from using. This is your admission of powerlessness.
Step One defines the disease of active addiction:
- You have a body that can’t handle alcohol or other drugs.
- You have a mind that can’t give them up.
- In active addiction, you had no spiritual connection to a Higher Power that could help you.
In early recovery, sobriety should be your number one priority. But it’s important to recognize that while sobriety is absolutely necessary to your recovery, it’s repairing your spiritual nature that will allow you a lifelong recovery from addiction.
Spirituality is discussed in Step Two:
When you admit powerlessness, you admit that you can’t control everything in your life. But you are responsible for the effort you make.
While you were in active addiction, you tried to fill your spiritual void with alcohol or other drugs, money, relationships, material things, or compulsive behavior of one type or another. But you found these external answers didn’t resolve your internal needs. You had to search for another solution. Steps Two and Three ask us to seek the spirituality that will give our life meaning.
Personal recovery Story
“Is there anything that can help me? By the time I came into the program, I was down on nearly everyone and everything. I decided it was crazy to believe anything could help me. My sponsor pointed out that for quite a while I’d been believing booze could help me. I had to admit she was right. So I figured if I’d been willing to trust a lower power for so long, I might as well give a Higher Power a whirl. That was my awakening. It didn’t mean anyone mistook me for Mother Teresa; it just meant I was willing. Nowadays I’ve come to see my life as one long, gradual spiritual awakening.”
—Valerie, recovering alcoholic