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What to Expect When You Give Up Alcohol or Drugs


One of the reasons for why substance abusers are unwilling to give up alcohol or drugs is that it can feel like a real step into the unknown. The individual may have fallen into addiction at a young age, and they just have no real idea about what to expect if they become sober. The individual may also have picked up many misconceptions about what recovery involves, and this can put them off wanting to achieve sobriety. Once the person has a better understanding of what recovery is going to involve they may become more willing to embrace this way of living.

Misconceptions about Addiction Recover

There are a number of misconceptions about recovery that can make people less willing to walk away from alcohol and drug abuse. These misconceptions include:

  • The person believes that without alcohol and drugs their life will be dull and purposeless. This is such a common misconception among people involved in substance, but it is false. It is actually the life of the addicted individual that is boring and predictable. When people become sober, they get the opportunity to become really happy, so they no longer have to settle for the shallow and fleeting kind of pleasure that comes from substance abuse.
  • The individual may be put off giving up the substance abuse because they are sure that their withdrawal symptoms are going to be too unpleasant. The reality is that in the vast majority of cases these withdrawals will be no worse than mild flu symptoms. Even those people who are at risk of severe withdrawal symptoms (people who have been heavy users of alcohol or barbiturates for many years) can have their detox medically supervised so that there is relatively little discomfort. It is important to keep in mind that the minor aches and pains of the withdrawal process are nothing when compared to the misery involved in years of addiction.
  • Substance abusers will often claim that sober living is dull. The actually miss the reality that it is their life that is boring and predictable. Giving up alcohol and drugs opens up a world of possibilities, and a common complaint made by people who have been sober many years is that they just do not have enough hours in the day to do all the things that they want to do.
  • There is another misconception that sober living means having to be a “goody two shoes” or living saint. While it is true that people will need to find a better way of dealing with life, they will certainly not need to be perfect in order to live a good life away from addiction. It is all about progress rather than perfection, and developing a ‘holier than thou’ attitude would actually be counterproductive.

What to Expect When You Give Up Alcohol and Drugs

Here are some of the things that people can expect when they give up alcohol or drugs:

  • The withdrawal process only lasts a few days, and it usually does not involve too much discomfort. This detox process can be even less of a challenge if the person has the right mental attitude. Those individuals who have a detox in a rehab will usually find that their symptoms can be controlled by pharmaceuticals and other treatments.
  • As soon as the person gives up the substance abuse, their body and mind will enter the repair process. Things begin to improve in this regard almost as soon as they stop, and within a relatively short period of time, they will begin to feel much better both mentally and physically.
  • It is common for people to experience a bit of an emotional roller coaster during the first few months of recovery. This occurs because the person has been numbing their feelings with alcohol or drugs for many years, and so they are not used to dealing with them. It can be a great feeling to experience things without a filter again, but it also means that negative emotions feel even more intense as well. Things will settle down again once the person has been sober for a few months, and they are once again used to experiencing their emotions.
  • As the person’s mental clarity improves, they should find that the world becomes an exciting place full of possibilities. The individual will be able to see the world in a new way, and this means that they can have a much better relationship with it.
  • When people become sober, they will often find that in some ways they are back where they started before they fell into the substance abuse. This is because very little emotional development can occur when the individual is trapped in addiction. The individual may well lack the coping skills that most other functioning addicts use for dealing with life, and this can mean that they find life difficult to deal with. It is vital that the individual finds new coping strategies or else they could slip back into addiction or turn to new maladaptive behaviours.
  • The things that drove the individual into substance abuse will usually still be there when the person becomes sober. This means that they must now find ways of dealing with these roots of addiction, so that they can live a life that is satisfying and rewarding.
  • Becoming sober is not about going back to how things were before falling into addiction. It is about entering a completely new life that can be more satisfying and rewarding than anything that the person has experienced previously. People can do amazing things when they become sober and completely turning things around is well within the person’s grasp.
  • It is possible to become sober but still not find a satisfying way of living. This happens because the only thing that the person has changed is drinking alcohol or using drugs – the situation is referred to as dry drunk syndrome. In order to get the kind of life that the person really deserved, they do need to understand that giving up the addiction is only the first step.

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