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What Happens After You Get Sober

Thinking about getting sober can be terrifying. Fear of the unknown is enough to keep people stuck in the cycle of addiction for years. In early recovery, I was told, “You only have to change one thing and that’s everything.” The idea of changing everything is extremely overwhelming.

You start to feel better physically

One of the first things that happens in sobriety, is your body starts to recover. Yes, you first have to get through that initial withdrawal period. But once that ends, you will wake up every day feeling healthy. No more shaking while drinking that first drink. No wakeup pill or shot to feel normal. It really is such a freeing feeling. I know I didn’t realize how badly I felt until I got sober. Feeling sick had become normal to me.

Many emotions come to the surface

Many of us used drugs or alcohol to cover up difficult emotions. We numbed out anything we didn’t want to feel. Once the substances are gone, all the emotions we have kept bottled up inside will start to come up. It may be all at once or little by little, but it will happen. This is one of the reasons that counseling is so helpful in sobriety. Learning to handle different emotions becomes much easier with time. Even though you have these emotions, being sober allows you to stay in control when dealing with them. No more drunken arguments or drug-induced rages.

You start to feel better mentally

Yes, you may feel relaxed initially after having a drink or a drug, but it adds to depression over time. The chemicals in your brain (like serotonin or dopamine) are constantly going up and down. That takes a toll on your mental health. It will take time after becoming sober for your body to level out, but it will happen. It is also important to speak with a doctor to make sure you don’t have an underlying mental health condition. Many people who struggle with substance abuse also have a mental health issue. Depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder are easily treated.

People may not trust you right away

When we get sober, sometimes we expect people to trust us right away. But most of us have broken the trust of our loved ones many times. It can be frustrating when people don’t trust you, even though you are doing everything right. Try to remember that their trust wasn’t lost overnight and it will take time to rebuild. Do what you can to reassure loved ones that you are sober and committed to staying sober. People may not trust you right away, but that won’t last forever.

People WILL begin to trust you

After some time in recovery, your loved ones will start to regain their trust in you. This is such a satisfying feeling after years of nobody trusting you. You will find that people treat you differently and no longer question everything you say or do. Over time, people will continue to place more trust in you.

You will have to clean up your messes

Many of us leave a path of wreckage before we make it to recovery. The messes could be financial, legal, emotional, or physical. We may be in debt, going through a divorce, dealing with legal issues or with poor health due to our choices. No matter what has happened, you can make it through anything if you stay sober. Life may be a little different than you expected, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be beautiful.

You will save money

This one is easy. No more drinking and drugging means a lot of saved money. In addition to saving money, you also can make more money. When you’re not drunk or high, you become a more productive worker. Maybe you don’t miss work as much or you apply for a better job. Either way, sobriety equals more money.

Your social circle will change

You will most likely lose some “friends” when you make it to recovery. Some people you thought were your friends may turn out to be just drinking/drugging buddies. Others may be friends that aren’t ready to face their own drinking yet. Unfortunately, sobriety makes some people uncomfortable. It may feel lonely at first, but you will form deeper connections with people that are true friends.

You will be present for your family

Our children are the ones hurt the most by addiction and alcoholism. If they are young, they may not understand what is going on, but they do know when you are not fully present. Whether you’re drunk, hungover or counting down to five o’clock, your children can sense you aren’t with them. Sobriety means you can always be completely present for your children.

You can be proud of yourself

While in active alcoholism/addiction, it is difficult to have a positive self-image. You likely have done things that you regret. Rather than focusing on the past, you can become a person that you are proud of. It takes time and patience to build a new life, but it is worth it.

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