When it comes to alcohol addiction, many individuals assume that the goal of recovery is reaching sobriety. The reality is that the goal is giving up alcohol for a lifetime. Sobriety is a limited term because it only describes one state of being rather than focusing on the lifestyle goals that come with realistic recovery.
Definition of Sobriety
Sobriety is a word that is often used in association with tests to determine drunkenness. Police might give an individual a sobriety test, which determines if the individual has been drinking or not, if behavior supports the idea that the individual is drunk.
The actual meaning of the term is that an individual is currently sober. It does not refer to past drunkenness or future behaviors. It is a term that is applied to the present condition of the individual, which can make it seem simple.
Although the actual definition is limited and the word is often associated with tests for drunkenness, it is also used in recovery as a goal. The real goal of addiction recovery is giving up the alcohol for life. The first step is reaching sobriety. After the body has cleansed the system, it is then possible to maintain a sober lifestyle that does not include alcohol.
Taking the First
Living a sober lifestyle begins with giving up alcohol. It is the first step that is always the hardest because the body and mind are both dependent on the substance. By cutting out alcohol, it is likely that withdrawal symptoms will occur and it will be hard to move forward.
The first step to reach for sobriety is detoxification. The body must remove the toxic build-up from alcohol abuse to get over the physical dependence on the drink.
Withdrawal symptoms that might occur include:
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares during sleep
- General flu-like symptoms
- Moodiness or sudden shifts in mood
- Shaking hands
- Shaking throughout the body or shivering
- Feeling sick to the stomach
- Heart palpitations
- Disinterest in eating food
Although the symptoms might seem manageable, the withdrawals can become severe for some individuals. It is best to seek the help of medical professionals during the detoxification process because certain symptoms can require medical attention. A medically supervised detox program is usually ideal because a nurse and a doctor are available at all hours, even in the middle of the night.
Work on Realistic Maintenance Goals
From the day that the alcohol is out of the system, sobriety has begun. An individual is considered sober after the alcohol is not in the system and the body is cleansed of the toxin.
At the point that the detox process is complete, it is time to take the next step forward on the road to maintenance. Since alcohol addiction has many potential causes and factors that are involved, the only way to move forward is by setting realistic goals.
Identify the reasons that alcohol is bad for personal health or future hopes and dreams. Make a note of the reasons that alcohol abuse continues. If it is hard to pin-point a reason for the alcohol abuse, then it is possible that a counselor can help. The causes of addiction come from many sources, including past trauma or mental health challenges. If it is possible, then make a list of the pros and cons of both sides of the alcohol abuse
When the reasons for abuse and the motivations for giving up the substance are identified and listed, it is possible to make realistic goals. Goals can range from learning how to handle certain emotional challenges to finding alternative activities to handle stress. Each goal should address short-term and long-term needs, such as a short-term goal of talking to a counselor and a long-term goal of taking appropriate steps to control a mental health problem. The exact goals will vary, but it is best to provide a clear path that will reach for long-term success.
Ask for Help
Entering a treatment facility for detoxification and continued treatment is the ideal way to take the first steps to sobriety. The facility will provide the tools to set realistic goals and the professional counseling that makes it possible to identify factors that contribute to drinking and solutions that will work.
Asking for help is a positive step in the right direction. Assistance to recover from alcohol addiction can include family members, close friends or professionals in a treatment facility. Regardless of the source of support and guidance, the help will provide the opportunity to overcome challenges that seem insurmountable at the beginning of sobriety.
The support and help of loved ones is particularly beneficial during recovery and after the first steps of a sober lifestyle are completed. Maintaining sobriety requires solutions that work, which might means that family members will occasionally need to step in and stop personal drinking before it leads to a relapse. Loved ones are available to listen to problems, offer advice or even just come play a game when the temptation to drink becomes difficult to manage.
Counselors and professionals services are also useful because it helps identify the problems that are leading to drinking and provides tools to fight those problems. Whether the challenges are associated with stress or the temptation to drink occurs when bad memories strike, the tools to solve the underlying causes of alcohol abuse are discovered by professionals.
Deal With Emotions and Stress in Healthy Ways
Maintaining sobriety will require some effort into the maintenance of personal emotions, feelings and stress. The reasons for alcohol abuse are numerous, but many individuals drink as a result of emotional pain or a high-stress lifestyle.
Stress relief options that might be available in a treatment facility include:
- Exercise programs
- Martial arts classes
- Art workshops or drawing classes
- Music classes or workshops
- Alternative medicine for pain reduction, such as massage therapy
Although the treatment program will have specific activities available that help reduce stress levels and provide emotional balance, personal interests will also play a role. It is possible to reduce stress by reading a good book, watching a comedic show or enjoying time in a hot-tub. The key is finding the solution to stress and emotional management that works best for personal needs and interests.
Healthy ways to manage personal emotions will depend on the situation and the problems that are involved. Although many of the stress-relief solutions can help, emotional pain from trauma or a mental health condition might require more than simple stress reduction solutions. In some cases, medication for the mental health condition might be provided or the counselor might suggest additional therapy until a personal emotional state is under control.
Sobriety is a term that refers to the lack of alcohol in the system. Maintaining a state of sobriety requires active care and management of a personal recovery. Although the process of recovery is challenging and will require effort, it is worth the time and energy put into giving up alcohol. Relationships with loved ones will improve, the body will heal and overall health will see positive changes. Getting sober is the vital first step of recovery from alcohol abuse.