Finding recovery and getting sober seems rational to those people that have never suffered from addiction. From the outside looking in, they see someone suffering from addiction whose life is chaotic and unmanageable and they think “why wouldn’t this person want to get sober?” It seems pretty simple. Drugs and alcohol are ruining your life, so of course you would want to find recovery and get sober in order to find a better life.
However, as anyone that has ever suffered from addiction and substance use disorder knows, it certainly is not that simple. For one, individuals suffering from addiction have had their brains hijacked by drugs and alcohol. Due to the impact of substances on their brains and bodies, they are not thinking rationally and are often incapable of making rational decisions. Their pleasure centers in the brain have been hijacked, and over time they have created habitual behaviors and patterns of thinking that will lead them to use drugs and alcohol in both good times and bad times, regardless of the consequences of their drug and alcohol use. They will, in short, drink or use no matter what.
Another major issue for individuals suffering from addiction is that, at least for many years, a life of using drugs and alcohol is the only one they have known. Drugs and alcohol typically are providing something for them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually that it typically does not provide for a person that doesn’t have a substance use disorder. Drugs and alcohol provide a sense of ease and comfort. It allows them to self-medicate physical and emotional pain or any mental health conditions they may also suffer from. It allows them to feel connected when they do not typically feel connected while sober. It is both an escape and a way to interact with the world. It is often the only coping mechanism they know and can use when they are dealing with stressors and other life situations. And often they cannot begin to view their life without drugs and alcohol.
Therefore, because of this last point, they begin to create in their head a number of misconceptions about sobriety, in order to self-sabotage any attempt at seeking recovery or getting sober. They begin to believe things about sobriety and about themselves that put up barriers to getting sober and finding recovery.
5 misconceptions about sobriety and the process of recovery:
I’ll never have fun if I’m sober
Many people believe they will never be able to have fun in sobriety, because they are typically only used to doing things socially when under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Or their social activities only revolve around things that consist of using drugs and drinking. Common concerns are the idea that they will never be able to go to parties or bars or clubs, attend concerts, hang out socially are family functions or BBQs, or even just hang out socially with friends. This is because most of the time, while in active addiction, all of these activities involve alcohol and/or drugs. The truth is, and anyone that has gotten sober and found recovery will tell you the same, is that all of those social activities a person did while drunk or high, they can do while sober. They will be able to enjoy concerts and events and social gatherings in sobriety, and often times, even more so. It will take some time, but they will absolutely get comfortable with being sober, and then all those social activities will be elevated because of their recovery. Additionally, once sober, they will begin to have new experiences and learn other fun outlets that they didn’t do while intoxicated or addicted to drugs and alcohol. They will try new things and learn that they are able to have fun at social activities that they didn’t like previously.
I’ll lose all my friends and no longer have a social life
Another one the most common misconceptions about sobriety, connected to the idea of not being able to have fun while sober, is the idea that a person will lose their friends and no longer be able to be social. Many people believe that sobriety is just not drinking, and all their time is spent in church basements of 12 Step fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA.) This is simply not true. The first point is that getting sober does not mean a person will lose their friends and acquaintances. If a person’s friends care about them and love them, and they see them killing themselves with drugs and alcohol, they will absolutely be supportive and want them to find recovery. If a person’s friends do not want health and happiness for them, they probably aren’t friends that they should want to keep around in the first place. Loving, supportive friends will be there once a person finds sobriety. They will continue to be a part of a person’s social life. Additionally, they will create new friends in recovery, often deep, emotional relationships that they find they never had in active addiction.
If I get sober, I’ll lose my job
Many people feel seeking help for addiction will make them suffer consequences like losing their job or means of employment. This is absolutely untrue. First, any person can take the time away from work that they need to find health and healing by going to detox and treatment. Most employers do not want to fire employees who are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Instead, they want that employee to get the help that they need and to get well. Often, employers have no choice but to get rid of employees who are personally suffering from addiction and whose job performance is suffering because of drugs and alcohol. This occurs because the employee does not want to seek help or denies help when it is offered. They may claim not to have a problem or minimize the issue. In this case, a company may choose to let an employee go. However, most people find when they go to their boss or the human resources department, get honest with the problem they are having around drugs and alcohol, that the company is extremely supportive of them seeking help. Additionally, companies want employees to be healthy, as a sober employee is often one of the hardest working, best performing employee in the company.
If I get sober, I’ll lose who I am
One of the biggest misconceptions about sobriety is the belief that when someone gets sober, they lose who they are as a person- they lose their personality or their sense of being. People in active addiction often talk about being afraid or fearful of “losing themselves” if they get sober. They believe if they’re funny, then they’ll stop being funny. If they’re fun, they’ll become boring. One of the greatest fears of creative people or artists is that they will lose that piece of themselves that makes them creative or that their art comes from the pain they’ve experience in active addiction and the feelings of disconnection. They believe that they will no longer be able to be creative- unable to paint or draw, unable to write or perform music, or unable to get in front of a camera or live audience and perform or act. This is untrue. The truth is that sobriety and recovery help people get in touch with their true nature, and most people when sober find that they are able to be who they truly are, also known as their authentic self. They are able to creative better masterpieces while in recovery or perform better when sober. When someone finds sobriety and recovery, they don’t lose who they are but rather, they find who they truly can become.
I don’t know how to cope with life without drugs and alcohol
A final misconception is the belief of individuals that they handle life better with drugs and alcohol, and if substances are taken away, they won’t know how to cope with life. Again, this is untrue. The truth is that, over time in active addiction, they have developed habits and behaviors that make drugs and alcohol the only way which they know how to cope with life. They have developed negative coping mechanisms that they return to time and time again. The truth is, they have never truly learned how to cope with life, and drugs and alcohol were what they turned to and continued to turn to, even though they were problematic and brought with them consequences. They have been unable to cope with both practical life issues as well as unable to handle and process emotions. So instead, they run from them. The truth is, getting sober is scary for people because they don’t believe they will be able to cope with normal responsibilities nor with the feelings and emotions that occur for them in most situations. However, getting sober and finding recovery also allows for people to learn and put into practice healthy coping mechanisms. Recovery allows for someone to learn the necessary skills to thrive in life, handle emotions, and create healthy coping mechanisms and behaviors that are not detrimental to them, and rather can place them in a position to handle any situation or emotion successfully.
Misconceptions about sobriety or recovery from addiction are all based out of fear. Individuals that have been living in active addiction only know how to approach life in the way in which they have been approaching it from so long- with the use of drugs and alcohol. The proposition that their coping mechanism (substances) will be taken away is terrifying to them, so their mind creates a belief system that tells them they could not possibly live without drugs and alcohol. However, the millions of stories of individuals who have found recovery from addiction, and who often felt the same way, tell us that those thoughts and beliefs are untrue. They are simply misconceptions or barriers that people place in front of their sobriety to protect themselves from having to give up drugs and alcohol. The truth is, recovery is absolutely available and attainable for anyone, and once finding recovery that person will undoubtably find that the thoughts and beliefs they had about sobriety and recovery were simply misconceptions. Once finding recovery, they will see that sobriety is not scary or something they need to avoid, but rather something that will not only put them on a path of healing, but a way of life that will help them thrive and success beyond anything they thought was possible.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.