HomeAddictionWhat’s the Difference between Sobriety and Recovery?

What’s the Difference between Sobriety and Recovery?

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Category: Addiction, Recovery

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A small word with a big meaning.

Think “being sober” is the same as “being in recovery?” Think again. While the two terms may seem interchangeable, there is a very important distinction when it comes to addiction. Here’s a closer look at the issue, along with why acknowledging the difference between sobriety and recovery can be essential to overcoming addiction and regaining control of your life.

About Sobriety

Simply put, anyone who doesn’t drink or do drugs is “sober.”  While sobriety is certainly part of the recovery journey, it can also be a short-term and tenuous state. Why? Because at any point—with the sip of a drink or the pop of a pill—you can quickly shift from sober to altered to addicted. Explains Psychology Today, “These individuals may be staying away from alcohol, but they are not treating the underlying issues that had either led to their drinking in the first place or developed as their alcoholism progressed.”

Because of this failure to address the root causes of addiction, it not only means you are more likely to relapse but also that you may simply transfer your old addictions into new ones in an attempt to fill the void left by giving up your initial vices. Continues Psychology Today, “They may have stopped drinking, but their life may be exactly the same, leading them to be jealous of others who are drinking or to struggle with emotional and mental health issues.”

Given that alcoholism is a chronic disease, sobriety can be viewed as the equivalent of a day without symptoms. This doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t look very different, and that the same or different symptoms may arise. Not only that, but in thinking of sobriety as the end-stop as opposed to the starting point, you may let down your guard and therefore be more vulnerable to temptation if—or, more likely, when—it arises.

About Recovery

If sobriety is akin to a symptom-less day for addicts, recovery can be viewed as remission. Explains Psychology Today, of recovery, “Their alcoholism is not cured, but is at bay in a way that allows them to be free of the cravings, mental obsession and they have treated their underlying issues (mental health, spiritual, physical) that led to or resulted from their drinking.”

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How can you recover from something you don’t understand? Enter behavioral therapy.

In acknowledging these root causes, you can overcome the obstacles that led you to your addictions, and therefore avoid transferring that addiction to another vice. In other words, you not only gain sobriety but also the emotional stability to defend yourself against relapse. This doesn’t mean you are relapse-proof, but it does mean you have the tools—thanks to a combination of medication, when appropriate, and behavioral therapy—within reach to stay strong in the face of temptation.

Perhaps The Discovering Alcoholic sums it up best, stating, “Sobriety is a state. Recovery is a process.”  While the former may be imperative to the latter, the latter is ultimately the key to truly conquering addiction and moving on with a full and functional life.

We’re Here to Help

At Harris House, you won’t just sober up. You will learn about the pivotal role of recovery and how best to embrace recovery in your own life. To learn more about this trusted St. Louis drug rehab program, contact us at Harris House today.


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