Are you currently on a journey towards sobriety from addiction? If so, sober life can seem like a foreign and faraway prospect.
In this article, we hope to demystify sobriety for you and show you what life on the other side can look like.
In this guide, we’ll cover the benefits of sobriety in terms of mental and physical health and what you can expect as you maintain sobriety. This article is an ideal starting point for anyone making the leap into a sober lifestyle.
In this article we’ll cover:
- What sobriety means
- The benefits of sobriety and living a sober life
- What to expect when you first start living a sober life
- Tips for maintaining sobriety.
Let’s get into it.
What Is Sobriety?
Before we take a look at some of the benefits associated with living a sober life, let’s delve into the meaning of sobriety first.
The definition of sobriety refers to the state of not being under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.
Therefore, to live a sober life means to live a life free of consuming these substances. While relapses may occur, living sober means continuously choosing a life without the reliance on alcohol or drugs.
The Benefits of Choosing Sobriety and Living a Sober Life
If you’re on the fence about becoming sober or are finding the thought of long-term sobriety overwhelming, taking a look at the myriad benefits to be found in a sober life can be helpful in making your decision. Let’s look at each of these in more detail:
1. Improved physical health
Indisputably, giving up alcohol and drugs will have a positive impact on your physical health.
Not having to deal with hangovers will enhance your energy levels, and your body will function more optimally without having to remove alcohol from your body.
Alcohol also increases your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as having a negative effect on your immune system.
2. Mental clarity
Sobriety will also bring mental clarity.
Heavy drinking is known to cause memory loss and even complete blackouts, as well as general cognitive deficits when under the influence. Alcohol can even damage the brain if alcohol is abused long term.
3. Enhanced emotional well-being
When you stop drinking, this also has a positive effect on your emotional health and well-being.
Studies show individuals who become sober experience an increase in mental health as a result.
By giving up alcohol this will allow you to better understand why you felt the need to drink in the first place, creating awareness and better emotional coping strategies.
4. Better sleep quality
While alcohol may feel as though it helps you get to sleep at first, it actually has a detrimental effect on your sleep.
This is because even small amounts of alcohol before bed drastically decrease the amount of time you spend in REM sleep during the night.
Instead, you spend a longer amount of time in a light sleep – which causes your body to not restore itself properly, making you feel tired the next day.
5. Stronger relationships
Becoming sober will also undoubtedly improve your relationships.
Whether with friends, family, or romantic partners, you will become more present in your close relationships, and develop more healthy interactions. Over time, your relationships will likely develop more trust and greater communication.
6. Financial savings
Alcohol and drugs are expensive, and consuming them long-term has a significant financial cost.
By giving up drugs and alcohol you will save a large amount of money, which you can then invest into other things in your life that are important to you.
7. Increased productivity
Being sober also means you will become more productive. Whether you use this productivity towards work or other hobbies and passions is up to you!
However, without alcohol or drugs taking up your time and reducing your energy, you will find you have more time to spend on other endeavors.
8. Reduced risk of accidents
When you’re intoxicated, you’re at greater risk of having accidents such as falls and injuries.
The risk is at least doubled and can be up to five times greater than someone who is not intoxicated. By becoming sober, you’ll be increasing your safety.
Without alcohol or drugs in your life, you can look forward to a life without hangovers!
Waking up with a hangover is no fun and can set your day off to a bad start. Starting the morning sober, however, is bound to create a more positive tone for the day.
10. Improved self-esteem
While you often may feel more confident when under the influence, drinking long-term actually decreases self-esteem.
As alcohol is a drug, it changes the way your brain perceives reality and lowers self-esteem. Giving up alcohol places you on a path toward regaining your confidence and sense of self.
What To Expect When You First Start Living A Sober Life
Deciding to become sober can be challenging when you don’t know what to expect.
Being prepared will put you on the best foot towards success. Let’s go over some of the things that may happen to you when you become sober:
1. Withdrawal symptoms
It’s normal to experience withdrawal symptoms from substance use disorders. These may take the form of headaches, nausea, shaking, vomiting, sweating, and anxiety.
In more serious cases of severe dependence, hallucinations, and confusion may occur. This occurs in less than five percent of individuals experiencing alcohol withdrawal; however, it’s important to seek immediate medical care if this occurs.
2. Cravings for substances
Cravings for alcohol or drugs are likely, and an expected part of the journey to sobriety.
One way to curb cravings is to eat a healthy sweet snack such as fruit instead, alongside making sure you eat a nutritious, balanced diet.
3. Emotional ups and downs
It’s normal to experience emotional highs and lows on your journey to sobriety.
As you experience challenges and setbacks alongside happiness in your newfound freedom from alcohol, it may take some time for things to settle down.
4. Drunk dreams
It’s also possible to experience drunk dreams in sobriety or dreams that you have relapsed and consumed alcohol. These may be followed by intense feelings, but are a normal part of recovery.
5. Information and sensory overload
As alcohol is a depressant and numbs your emotions, it’s also possible that you may experience information and sensory overload when adjusting to a sober life after Alcohol Use Disorder.
However, this should ease over time as you adjust to your new life.
6. Social pressures and stigma
When giving up alcohol, it’s possible that you will encounter social pressure from others to drink. Prepare yourself for these situations, or avoid them altogether if possible!
Tips For Maintaining Sobriety
Maintaining sobriety over time isn’t always an easy feat. Below are some tips to help keep you on track:
1. Get support
Having support around you when giving up alcohol or drugs is crucial to recovery. There are many ways you can find support for yourself in recovery:
- Attend support groups like AA or NA: Support groups are a great way to share your story and connect with others in the recovery community.
- Build a network of sober friends and mentors: Find others in your life who are also sober and who can support you!
- Consider therapy or counseling: In some situations, professional help may be needed and can be an excellent tool on your journey to sobriety. This is especially the case if you are experiencing additional mental health issues in your everyday life.
Avoid your triggers
Avoid situations, environments, or people that you know will trigger your cravings to drink. This will prevent relapses from happening in the long run.
Live a healthy lifestyle
Looking after your health is also important to be mindful of when achieving sobriety:
- Exercise regularly: Placing exercise in your daily routine will reduce stress and improve mood, as well as keep your body in good physical shape.
- Healthy diet: Maintain a balanced diet that keeps your blood sugar stable to reduce cravings and keep energy levels high.
- Get adequate sleep: Sleep is essential to mental and emotional functioning, which is important to help you deal with stress and triggers.
Mindfulness and stress management
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, and learning to manage it is important. Mindfulness is a great tool that will help you stay present in the moment and reduce stress.
Set goals and stay busy
Set goals for yourself to stay motivated. It’s also a great time to take up new hobbies to keep your mind occupied.
One way to increase success is to hold yourself accountable:
- Share your goals with a trusted friend or family member: By sharing your goals with others, they can hold you accountable to keeping to them
- Keep a journal to track your progress: Keeping a journal allows you to look back and see what you have achieved so far – a great tool for motivation!
Learn from relapses
Relapses are a natural part of the recovery journey. Learn from them by uncovering what triggered them so that you can avoid them in the future.
As we’ve seen, deciding to live your life sober will have a drastic impact on your physical and mental health.
Sobriety brings better sleep, mental clarity, greater energy levels, and increased self-esteem – just to name a few benefits!
While long-term sobriety can be challenging with many ups and downs, triggers, and relapses, there are plenty of things you can do to make the journey easier.
Make sure you have a strong support network, take care of your health, and avoid situations you know may increase your risk of relapse, and you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term success.