Being “Sober” Versus Being in “Recovery”
will never forget standing on the hot streets of Florida one lonely Wednesday in July. I was three months sober and miserable. I was thirty hours away from home at a sober living facility in West Palm Beach, working for a recovering alcoholic who knew way more than me. As I stood bitter and resentful on that sidewalk, the recovering alcoholic was trying to offer me some advice. He told me I was a dry drunk and I would never stay sober. I was infuriated by the comment. Astonished by his remarks, I quit the job and relapsed the same day. He was right. Being called a “dry drunk” was definitely a wake-up call. One I never really wanted to experience.
What is a dry drunk? According to Psychology Today, a dry drunk may be referred to as someone who is “white knuckling” their sobriety. They may be abstaining from alcohol or their drug of choice, but they are not dealing with their underlying issues that caused their addiction in the first place. While there are many routes towards recovery, sobriety is simply the first step. It is an important one, but not the final step. Many people who are simply abstaining from using their drug of choice will begin to fill that void with other addictions: sex, gambling, food, shopping, or unhealthy relationships. This is not true recovery.
SAMSHA defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” Recovery can be viewed as a system of regaining the things that were lost during your addiction; it is how you maintain your sobriety. In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, you often hear, “recovery is a lifelong journey, not a destination.” In today’s world we know there are many roads that lead to recovery. However, in order to be successful you must come to the realization you cannot walk the road alone. Recovery takes total surrender. Once you have surrendered, you will have no need to fill that void with unhealthy desires. I have found after total surrender God has given me a life filled with joy, peace, and happiness, the life we were all destined for. Below you will find ways to maintain a healthy recovery that promotes long-lasting sobriety.
Ways to Maintain a Healthy Recovery:
Get enough sleep
Get a sponsor
Avoid past people, places, and things
See a doctor for regular check-ups
Work a spiritual program
Attend Alcoholics Anonymous /Narcotics Anonymous
Continue outpatient/ Peer support services.
Create a new hobby/Develop new interests.
Practice daily gratitude.
Participate in volunteer work.
If you are in recovery, I encourage you to practice these steps to help promote a life that supports long term sobriety. If you know someone who is suffering from simply being “sober,” they don’t have to live that way. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. We are not only meant to survive the disease of addiction, but we are meant to live abundantly and to thrive!
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, contact an addiction specialist at 606.638.0938 or use our confidential chat function at www.arccenters.com. We are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Kentucky State-Certified Peer Support Specialist
Addiction Recovery Care