Last Updated: February 15, 2023
What does sobriety really mean? When you think of sobriety, you might think of the fact that you are no longer dependent on drugs or alcohol. However, sobriety has a much deeper meaning as well. Substance misuse is not just about the physical dependence on a substance. It is about the emotional dependence too. Emotional sobriety can be even harder to achieve than physical sobriety. How can you get to a place when you are both physically and emotionally sober?
What is Sobriety?
Often, society thinks of sobriety as a physical state. As long as you are not using drugs or alcohol, you are considered sober. However, successful sobriety also involves emotional sobriety, and this can be harder to achieve. According to the Scientific American, those who are sober “must learn to regulate the negative feelings that can lead to discomfort, craving and—ultimately—relapse.” Achieving this is a constant work in progress, and it is one that begins with a physical act.
At first, people are often told to distract themselves from the desire to drink or use drugs. However, over time, the physical desire will abate, yet the emotional desire to distance yourself from negative feelings through substance misuse can still be there. At that point, you need to work on your emotional sobriety to achieve long-term physical sobriety. Emotional sobriety allows you to be wise and balanced in the ways that you approach your overall health.
Achieving Emotional Sobriety
Addiction is a disease that is easy to move into again and again. It involves challenges with motivation, rewards, impulse control, and responses to stress. If you did not grow up in an emotionally stable environment, you have a mental health challenge that makes it difficult to achieve emotional sobriety, or emotional self-regulation simply does not come naturally to you, you can access treatment and support to learn strategies to regulate your emotions. These strategies include:
- Disengagement from the negativity. Developing strategies through counseling or group therapy can help you regulate your negative thoughts by choosing not to dwell on them. According to Scientific American, “evidence is mounting that, under extremely adverse conditions, some emotional disengagement may indeed be tonic.”
- Engagement in milder negative thoughts. Working through your reactions to negative emotions can be helpful when those emotions are not as intense. Again, talking to others can help you process these emotions so that you can feel emotionally healthy again.
- Finding positive alternatives to drugs and alcohol. For instance, meditation, exercise, art, and gardening are all used as alternative therapies in recovery, and these can become healthy long-term strategies for those who are looking for a distraction or seeking support while engaging with negativity. They can be a positive support to the body and the mind.
When you are in recovery or considering visiting a treatment center, you need Ohio addiction treatment resources and support. At The Recovery Village, we understand your needs and can help you in your journey into sobriety. Contact us today to learn about admission.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.