In the world of addiction, there are two terms used to discuss the self-work one must do: recovery vs. sobriety. On one hand, sobriety speaks to the abstinence of the act of using substances. Generally, this is the first goal of substance abuse treatment and an essential one. Substances cloud our minds, affecting our judgment, our emotions, and our perspective. Drug use, especially when problematic, can prevent us from holding employment, maintaining relationships, and caring for basic, essential needs. Certainly, cessation of use is integral to regulating all systems of the body, allowing our brains to return to higher levels of functioning, preparing us to manage life post-addiction. However, sobriety, by itself, is not the only work of treatment. To stop at abstinence is to neglect to address the reasons behind why our use began in the first place.
It’s important to note that recovery is a process rather than a destination. It requires careful attention to the intent and desired lifestyle changes that must occur. As with most processes, there should be room for improvement and regression. As a relapsing disease, addiction is never fully straightforward.
AspenRidge offers a continuum of support for individuals and families who are ready to move forward toward a life without drugs and alcohol. For immediate support and compassionate assistance, contact us directly at 855-281-5588.
What Is Addiction Recovery?
Recovery is the lifestyle we build to maintain our sobriety. In recovery, we investigate the circumstances behind our use, discover the contributors to our pain and create space in which to experience and honor, fully, the depths of the dark places we avoided in addiction. We work to discover the parts of ourselves we can appreciate and to accept the parts we don’t yet love.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017. Additionally, addiction costs American society more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime-related costs.
In the face of bleak statistics regarding addiction and drug abuse, clinicians and researchers are recognizing certain bright sides that focus on recovery. On the surface, addiction may feel like a hopeless condition that few will recover from. Unfortunately, grim statistics suggest that relapse and overdose death seem to be more likely.
Truths About Relapse In Recovery
There’s certainly no question that many people relapse once in addiction recovery, especially in the initial attempts and stages. Recent statistics from American Addiction Centers, show that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within the first year following treatment. Researchers also estimate that more than two-thirds in recovery relapse within weeks to months of beginning treatment.
As new information becomes available, treatment programs are integrating services that work to address the fallbacks of recovery. The goal of drug relapse prevention programs is to address the problem of relapse by teaching techniques for preventing or managing reoccurrences and triggers. High-risk situations of relapse include:
that leads to drug-seeking behavior. Without a long-term drug relapse prevention plan, most people will be unsuccessful in their attempts to remain sober.
Thus, the main idea we focus on for recovery vs sobriety is the idea that in order to maintain sobriety, active recovery is needed.
What Is Active Recovery?
When we are living in recovery, we intentionally create connections so that the inevitable ups and downs of our lives are witnessed, held tenderly, or celebrated by people who love us, so that we don’t do life alone.
We tell on ourselves in meetings, in therapy, or to family members with whom we have rebuilt the trust our addiction destroyed, so that we do not, in our shame, return to dark nights of the soul with drink and drug in hand. In recovery, we embrace the authentic experience of being fully human, feeling joy, pain, boredom, complacency, victory, and defeat in turn, and often simultaneously.
Asking for help for recovery from drugs and alcohol is usually a first step and a monumental one. Communicating about the need for rehab services is a crucial step toward long-term sobriety. Without it, a person may continue to experience life in solitude and continue to seek alcohol and drugs for support.
There is a difference between recovery vs sobriety. Similarly, there are major differences between active vs passive recovery. At some point, individuals who relapsed stopped practicing their program of recovery. Over time, their meeting count slipped. A person may have stopped calling their sponsor. Rather than put themselves in “the middle of the herd” and join in a group of peers, they isolate themselves. As a result of their isolation, they turn toward old habits and triggers. Without the support of a meeting, a sponsor, or a fellowship, the principles of their recovery start to fade from their minds. Without accountability, hearing the message, and being submerged in sobriety, they start to forget why sobriety matters. Without constantly working toward positive change, they start to become complacent.
Living a recovery lifestyle takes time, healing, education, and the demonstration of others who have walked the path before us. We can recover. We do recover. We can become recovered, and we can stay that way.
What is Sobriety?
Let’s talk about recovery vs sobriety. Are they synonymous terms? In short, sobriety is a choice we make daily, and recovery is the action through which we actively live out that choice. While we must choose both sobriety and recovery daily, we can have sobriety without living in recovery. Sobriety is short-lived when it is not followed by intentionally building a life in recovery which sustains us as we face life on life’s terms.
According to Psychology Today, sobriety actually means, first, not being intoxicated. In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DMS), contains no abstinence criterion for recovery (also called remission).
Other sources, similarly, conceptualize sobriety as refraining from a particular behavior or substance. However, the heavy emphasis on abstinence in today’s modern meaning of the word can lead to a shallow idea of what it means to be recovered. While being able to successfully quit the compulsive use of drugs or drinking is an important aspect of active recovery, it’s only one small aspect to it.
AspenRidge: Recovery vs Sobriety & Our Solution
Our team of experienced and compassionate addiction specialists can help answer questions on recovery vs sobriety. AspenRidge Recovery is a leading provider of recovery programs in Colorado that help more individuals and families overcome the devastations that result from substance abuse. Whether you’re facing challenges with alcohol or drugs, our dual diagnosis center can point you in the right direction to begin developing the tools and skillsets needed to find long-term sobriety. For more information contact us 24/7 directly at 855-281-5588.
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