Sobriety vs Recovery: Similarities and Differences

Those seeking help for drug and alcohol addiction often wonder what the difference is when it comes to sobriety versus recovery. These terms are commonly used in the field of drug and alcohol treatment, and understanding the similarities and differences can make a difference in the outcome of the treatment process. Freedom from active addiction is the goal, however, these 2 words have very different meanings.

Defining Sobriety

By definition, sobriety refers to living a life free of drugs and alcohol. It means that the individual has eliminated these substances from their life, however, the term does not necessarily mean that other unhealthy habits have been eliminated. What does this mean? Well, when the substances are removed, there still may be broken and unhealthy relationships in place.

When someone simply stops drinking or using drugs, that doesn’t mean behaviors like dishonesty, manipulation, and being unreliable have stopped. This is the difference between sobriety and recovery.

Understanding What Recovery Is

The process of recovery refers to the work that people do within themselves to live each day as the best version of themselves. This does not mean that they become “perfect”, but more so that they are striving to figure out what contributes to their drug and alcohol use, and refrain from reacting to these triggers with self-destructive behaviors.

Participating in drug and alcohol treatment, individuals learn that drug and alcohol use is a symptom of the underlying issues. Individuals working toward recovery are going through positive changes to learn healthier coping skills.

sobriety spelled out on wooden scrabble tiles

Sobriety Vs Recovery

Understanding the differences in sobriety vs recovery can help individuals who are struggling with alcohol and drugs like heroin to implement helpful and healthy skills into their daily lives. Making this transition is a leap of faith that requires commitment and work for successful recovery.

Learning how to live life without using detrimental substances is the beginning, recovery helps these individuals learn how to cope with daily triggers to prevent relapse.

Sobriety means the substances are removed from the equation, recovery is the process of understanding why they became a problem to begin with and also implementing new skills to prevent relapse.

Similarities Between Recovery and Sobriety

Recovery and sobriety can be similar. In both instances someone is working and trying to stay away from using drugs and alcohol. They have managed to stop drinking and using drugs for any amount of time, and have begun the process of rewiring their brain back to normal functionality.

Both recovery and sobriety can consist of going to AA meetings, and enjoying life free of substance use. But, these are both very different circumstances.

Differences Between Recovery and Sobriety

There are differences between sobriety and recovery as well. Sobriety is feat all on its own. Someone who struggles with the use of drugs and alcohol ending their use is a challenge all on its own. So, when someone has achieved a period of time without these things, it is an accomplishment.

However, as members of Alcoholics Anonymous would say, this is someone who is a “dry drunk”. People who maintain sobriety often struggle with living life without drugs and alcohol.

Those who are in recovery work to unveil the root of the problem, learning their triggers and how to avoid turning to the substances as a coping mechanism. Recovery is a process in which someone can truly get to know themselves sober.

How Does Someone Transition from Being Sober to Recovery?

When it comes to transitioning between the 2, sobriety vs recovery can be life changing. When someone is sober, without working on the recovery aspect, the negative and unhealthy behaviors often remain the same. They just aren’t using drugs and alcohol. They may still engage in risky behaviors, break the law, or just feel all around miserable.

When the individual begins working on themselves, they begin to feel true freedom from their addiction. Working toward recovery can look different for everyone. The most popular way to achieve a life of recovery is participation in a 12-step program.

However, it is highly recommended to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program first, in order to clear the mind and gain the capability of grasping what these programs have to offer.

Possible Challenges

One of the main challenges with recovery is not having the right support in place while embarking on the journey. Many people feel alone, or as if they are an outcast, when they remove drug and alcohol use from their lifestyle.

When they have the proper support, particularly through a professional drug and alcohol rehab, they are able to gain the confidence to continue on their journey, and get through the uncomfortable feelings. Recovery is possible, it just takes commitment and work to achieve it.

Connect with Extra Mile Recovery

Experiencing a relapse isn’t the end of your recovery journey—it’s a detour. Each step you take following a relapse is a step toward regaining your strength and advancing further than before. Remember, recovery is not a linear process. And, each experience, including setbacks, is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and refine your approach to wellness.

If you’re unsure about what to do when you relapse, creating a detailed action plan with professionals can provide clarity and direction. We’re here for you at Extra Mile Recovery, whether you’ve relapsed or are just seeking additional support. We can help connect you through our aftercare and alumni programs. So, you’ll feel surrounded with the support you need to continue in recovery and live a sober life.

Contact us today to get back on track and find compassionate support dealing with relapse.

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