4 Unexpected Life Benefits of Becoming Sober
There are many, many benefits of becoming and remaining sober, and you have likely read about or experienced the following list:
- Regaining the respect of your family and friends
- The ability to keep a job and earn a living
- Staying out of jail
- Fewer medical problems
When someone gets sober from an addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, food or anything, a transformation occurs. The results are not to be taken for granted, as recovering addicts must work every day to stay clean; however, the longer recovery lasts, an inner freedom emerges. With that freedom comes some unexpected and subtle gains.
“Sobriety is the opposite of craving,” Dr. Rick Hanson writes in Psychology Today. “You’re not going to war with what’s unpleasant, chasing after what’s pleasant…Instead of willing yourself to avoid the bad, enjoying the good — the benefits of your sobriety — will naturally draw you in a higher direction”[i]. Dr. Hanson says to start recovery by setting yourself up to succeed: “Do what you can to take care of your deeper needs so you feel less driven to distract yourself, numb out or get high.” By focusing on your needs and deeper desires, you can begin working on positive ways to maintain sobriety, not just avoiding things, but looking forward to other things. But other, less obvious benefits arise from recovery, and here are a few that are both esoteric and life-changing.
Peace with Yourself
As hard as it may be to stay clean, every day that you make positive choices for your sobriety is a day that you will enjoy the “bliss of blamelessness.” You will have nothing to be ashamed of and can hold your head high while knowing that you are on a good path. In response, enjoy the sense of worth and self-respect[ii]. Relish the pleasures of a clear mind and a healthy body. Be glad about not putting toxins – the source of the word, intoxication – into your body and mind. Appreciate the gift that you are giving your future self.
Furthermore, enjoy the results in your relationships. You need not feeling embarrassed the day after you abuse drugs or feel too hung-over or tired because you stayed up late. These feelings will empower you to savor the respect of others: be glad that you avoided needless quarrels; feel proud that you did not harm other people; accept the fact that a relationship can meet your desires.
Manage Stress in a Healthier Way
In your sobriety, you probably learned some ways to manage stress. Everyone has stress, but how someone reacts to it is most important for maintaining recovery. When you are sober, you will know how to manage stress in better, mature ways that harm no one. With this knowledge comes the freedom to avoid cravings for alcohol, drugs or whatever problem tempts you. This reaction is part of a constructive cycle that opposes addiction. In short, the more you react in constructive ways, the better you are going to feel about yourself and about being in charge of your own actions, mind and life[iii].
Helping Other Recovering Addicts
Your recovery can be a win/win situation both for yourself and your loved ones, because you can help someone else in recovery while you also help yourself. A new study by Dr. Maria Pagano, associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, found that recovering alcoholics who help others can achieve the following benefits[iv]:
- Reduced alcohol use
- Increased consideration for others
- Completed more work in treatment
- Attended more recovery meetings
A concept called “the helper theory” holds that, when someone helps another person who suffers from a similar condition, she also helps herself. This symbiotic relationship exists because, when you help another person, your own selfishness and entitlement take a back seat, which means you are able to empathize. You may have forgotten this ability when you were consumed by addiction, but helping other people reminds you how to feel other people’s pain. In other words, Dr. Pagano writes that “Being interested in others keeps you more connected to your program and pulls you out of the vicious cycle of extreme self-preoccupation that is a posited root of addiction.” In short, empathy will enable you to become a greater force for good with the added benefit of strengthening yourself.
Gaining Self-respect and Empowerment
As you move through your recovery journey, you will feel more empowered the more you take control of your own actions. You will be more confident in your ability to make good choices, more mindful about your actions and more appreciative and respectful about yourself. Once these effects begin to take off and you stick with recovery, then there will be no stopping you.
Learn for Yourself
When you decide to work for a life of sobriety, you will find that the list of benefits is too long to number. Some of those benefits are obvious and others are subtle, but all of them will help you down your path to a happier, healthier life. If you would like more information about this process, then seek professional help at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline: our admissions coordinators will gladly discuss treatment and recovery with you.
[i] “Enjoy Sobriety,” by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., Psychology Today, Sept. 15, 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-wise-brain/201409/enjoy-sobriety
[iv] “Struggling to Hold Onto Your Sobriety? Try Helping Someone Else,” by David Sack, M.D., PsychCentral.com, http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2013/03/struggling-sobriety-try-helping-others/