Sobriety seems like an easy concept if not a simple task. It involves not taking a drug like morphine or alcohol ever again, right? Yes and no. Sobriety begins with not using a substance, but that is not the sum total of what sobriety and recovery are. As the journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice explains, “Abstinence rarely brings instant relief from all other problems in life.” It is not a one-step solution to addiction, but it is necessary for subsequent changes to occur. Sobriety allows individuals to develop their selves and their lives in positive and unexpected ways and to greatly improve their quality of life. Rather than define recovery and sobriety as abstinence from drug use, PsychCentral posits that, “Recovery may be the best word to summarize all the positive benefits to physical, mental, and social health that can happen when alcohol- and other drug-dependent individuals get the help they need.” And what are these benefits? They are the signs that your life is, and you are, getting better.
Because sobriety is not an instant solution to addiction, measuring its success and effects on life can be difficult for a recovering individual. However an objective look at what sobriety has changed, allowed or prevented can provide a picture of how life in recovery is better and will continue to get better. Taking this objective look begins with understanding how to measure growth, change and success. Addiction Science explains, “While substance abuse treatment seeks to promote abstinence or at least significant reductions in substance use, its ultimate aim is to improve the patient’s quality of life.” This improvement in quality of life comes from living better and becoming a better person and is the hallmark of recovery success. The World Health Organization considers quality of life to be measured in, “the following broad domains: physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and environment.” Looking at each of these can show how sobriety has made an individual a better person with a better life.
Better physical health is one sign that sobriety is making you better. Drug use has a severe, negative effect on health, and it can be deadly. The National Institutes of Health explains, “One in four deaths is attributable to alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use.” Even when drug use does not lead to an overdose or other fatal accident or complication, health consequences of drug use can still reduce quality of life. Drugs such as morphine create side effects as seemingly simple as constipation, a problem that may seem laughable at best and embarrassing at worst. However chronic constipation increases stress and decreases overall wellbeing and quality of life. Sobriety can make you feel better, think better and be better simply by reducing, reversing or eliminating even the mildest physical side effects.
Sobriety helps you become a better person by helping you find recovery from both addiction and mental health issues. If you had a mental health problem before you began abusing a drug such as morphine, the problem likely became worse. The National Alliance on Mental Illness explains, “Opiate abuse results in a worse prognosis for a person with mental illness. People who are actively using are less likely to follow through with their treatment plans. They are less likely to adhere to their medication regimens and more likely to miss appointments, which lead to more psychiatric hospitalizations and other adverse outcomes.” When you are sober, you are better able to take care of yourself mentally, and this care results in much greater quality of life. You can handle mental health issues both big and small and can reach out for the support you need. When you are sober you are better able to manage and address your mental health, which improves your overall quality of life in countless ways.
When you become sober, you are able to be a better parent, child, employee, friend and more. This makes you a better person, and it also makes your recovery better and stronger. The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs shares that those in recovery, “who had social networks with a higher number of abstainers and recovering alcoholics had better outcome 3 years after treatment completion.” When you are sober, you can have relationships built on love, trust and shared positive values, and you can have relationships that strengthen your recovery. When your social connections encourage you to stay sober rather than use drugs, you know sobriety is making you a better person.
Your environment influences who you are and what you choose to do. The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs explains, “Lack of a stable, alcohol and drug free living environment can be a serious obstacle to sustained abstinence. Destructive living environments can derail recovery for even highly motivated individuals.” Relationships that support recovery are a sign of the benefits of sobriety, and an environment that encourages recovery is a similar indication of how sobriety is making you and your life better. When you have a stable home life, supportive job and drug-free social locations, you have a stronger recovery. When you identify these positive environment elements, you have another sign of how sobriety is making you and your life healthier, happier and better.
Sobriety begins with a simple phone call and a conversation with one of our knowledgeable and confidential admissions coordinators. These caring individuals have the information and resource access you need to begin or continue your recovery journey. A life in addiction only gets worse, and a life in recovery only gets better. Don’t put off starting a better life. We are here 24 hours a day, so there is no wrong time to call and begin.