Is It Really Possible to Live Life Completely Sober?
When I first went into treatment, the idea of living a life 100% sober terrified me. I thought it would be boring and I had no idea how I would deal with the stresses of everyday life. I had a lot of false information on what it meant to have a good time and I had no idea how great it would feel to lead a healthy lifestyle. I didn’t really think it was possible to live life 100% sober, but almost 7 years later, I’ve realized that it has been the best decision I have ever made.
I learned how to have fun without the use of drugs or alcohol.
There is such a huge misconception in our culture that you have to drink alcohol in order to have fun. For many people, it starts out as a social lubricant and then turns into a social crutch. When I was drinking all the time I didn’t want to do anything in the evening that would require me to be sober. I would white knuckle it throughout the day at work and then as soon as I clocked out I started drinking. I believed the lie that I needed to drink to have fun.
As time went on, alcohol wasn’t really fun anymore and it only gave me problems. At that point I was too dependent on it and the only way I could stop was by getting help. Now I’ve learned that there is a whole world out there of things to do that do not involve alcohol. I found out it was what was holding me back from really experiencing life.
I learned healthy coping mechanisms that didn’t make my life worse.
One of the reasons I had such a problem with alcohol was that I used it for everything. I drank to have fun, I drank to deal with stress and I drank to try and forget my problems. The funny thing is that it actually not only made a lot of my problems worse, it also created brand new problems. Even if you don’t have a drinking problem, if you have ever drunk too much then I am sure you can understand what I mean by this.
At a certain point, I got sick of cleaning up the messes I made while I was drunk, especially when I couldn’t even remember what I did. It felt like I was constantly apologizing for someone else’s rude behavior. Since then I have learned how to have fun and deal with stress in healthy ways and I have found productive outlets for negative feelings.
I learned who my real friends are.
There are some people that I had to let go of when I first got sober, and some people that eventually fell out of my life because our lifestyles became incompatible. It can hurt to realize that the only thing holding a friendship together is substance abuse, but it is liberating to know that I no longer have fake people in my life that are not good for my well being.
I learned what is important in life and what isn’t.
There is something about the addiction recovery process that makes you grateful for the little things in life. You learn to appreciate simple things like waking up and not feeling sick or having extra money to go out and get a cup of coffee with a friend.
Because addiction takes so much away from a person’s life, they usually start out with very little when they finally decide to get sober. I think that it is the process of having to work for everything again that makes us appreciate it even more. People in long term recovery know how fragile this can be and therefore learn to value these things more than they did before.
I learned that a whole new world of opportunities had been opened up.
My alcohol use closed a lot of doors for me and stole a lot of opportunities for success. Once I got sober, these doors slowly began to open back up. I no longer needed to stay at a dead end job because they put up with my less than stellar performance and I no longer had to miss out on new opportunities.
I learned that I can actually be responsible with my finances.
When one is an addict, any and all extra money goes towards getting drunk or high. Even money that should go towards things like eating healthy or getting the car’s oil changed on time eventually gets siphoned off towards fueling the substance abuse. Addiction changes our priorities and not for the better.
When I was drinking I never had a savings account because I was living paycheck to paycheck. I wasn’t taking very good care of myself, my finances or my belongings. Once I got sober I realized that I didn’t have to make more money in order to pay all of my bills, I just had to be more responsible with what I did have. Not having to spend money on drinking made this a whole lot easier.
I learned to love and respect myself.
When alcohol was the most important thing in my life, my wellbeing was the least important. By going through the healing process I have learned how to truly value myself.
I learned that I could use my own experience with addiction to help others.
After finishing my treatment program I realized how many other people there are out there who are struggling with situations similar to mine. I found out that I had an opportunity to help other people overcome the same adversity I had faced. By working with people in addiction I have had the privilege to show people that not only is a life of recovery real, it is also attainable.
Throughout all of this, the most important thing I’ve learned is that not only is it possible to live life completely sober, I now wouldn’t want to have it any other way.