• Staff Writer

What Is the Difference Between Sobriety and Recovery?


People often intertwine the words sobriety and recovery, but they don’t mean the same thing. Sobriety is the state of being sober, while recovery is a process of regaining control of your life. Yes, one is a part of the other, but understanding that they are different can help you through recovery and remaining sober.


What Is Sobriety?


Sobriety is a term for anyone. Someone who has never had an addiction can be sober by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol. Sobriety is also an aspect of recovery. Not using drugs or alcohol is one part of recovery. It is usually the start of it.

When entering recovery, you would detox, go through treatment, and be sober during that time, yet recovery is an ongoing process of growth. Some people may even describe sobriety as an easier part of recovery.

The deeper and more emotional parts of recovery can be more challenging to overcome. Being sober means staying away from substances, but not facing the underlying causes of addiction through recovery very often leads to relapse or a transfer of addiction to another vice.

Viewing sobriety as one step of recovery is how you find peace and move forward. Sobriety alone leaves you vulnerable to all the issues that lead to addiction in the first place.


What Is Recovery?


Answering the question of what recovery is, is complicated. Recovery is not just one thing. It is a lifelong journey of health, self-discovery, learning, and growing.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” Recovery is not just a state of being, it is a combined effort that includes constant change, adjustment, and effort.


While sobriety is a part of recovery, there are many other steps:


#1. Health: You can be sober without focusing on your sobriety. Anyone can decide to be sober, but health is an integral part of recovery when coming from addiction. Focusing on exercise and nutrition improves your energy levels, mood, and physical wellness. Addiction affects your body and mind, so taking care of your body by nurturing its needs is essential for recovery.


#2. Community: Being active in your community is not necessary for sobriety, but it is for a successful recovery. Being involved with social networks, caring for friendships, and finding purpose with those around you is a positive outlet.


#3. Passion: Finding hobbies or activities that improve your mood, give you purpose, and excite you offers balance and self-care into your routine, improving your chances of a long recovery.


#4. Safety and stability: Finding a safe place to live that offers stability and security is essential for addiction or mental health recovery. Your surroundings make such an impact on you, so being somewhere that feels secure is vital.


#5. Motivation: Long-term recovery requires ongoing motivation and action. Going to peer meetings, staying involved in your community, and pushing yourself to accomplish goals are necessary for healing.


#6. Hope: Having hope for the future and faith in yourself is vital for recovery. A positive mindset can significantly impact your ability to prevent relapse.


#7. Support: Support from friends and family offers a great deal of comfort during difficult times. Recovery has ups and downs, and being able to talk to people you love and trust about your struggles offers solace.


#8. Therapy: Working with professionals to address past traumas, mental illness, or other issues impacting your recovery is one of the best ways to function without substances. You learn how to handle stress and care for relationships.


#9. Confidence: Addiction comes with feelings of shame and guilt. Working through those emotions is complicated, but you can start growing your self-esteem once you face those emotions head-on. The more you believe in your abilities, the more likely you will stick to your recovery.


#10. Coping: Recovery revolves around coping mechanisms and learning healthy ways to handle problems. When something in life comes up that is outside of your control, it can be triggering and lead to an urge to use. Finding healthy ways to manage such moments helps you move along within recovery.


Recovery is not just about staying sober. Sobriety is only one part of recovery. Yes, it is crucial and makes the difference between relapse and recovery, but recovery requires work and dedication. Sobriety without the effort of recovery is not likely to maintain itself.


Although sobriety and recovery are often interchangeable in society, they are not the same. Sobriety is only one aspect of recovery, meaning you don’t partake in substance use. It is what prevents relapse within recovery, but without working through the actual cause of the addiction, sobriety is not enough. Sobriety is a step to be proud of, but alone it isn’t enough to sustain a healthy lifestyle without drugs and alcohol. Learning healthy ways to cope with all life stressors leads to recovery. Sobriety on its own lends itself to self-destructive and other addictive behaviors, even without substance use. Reaching out to a revered treatment center like California Care Detox & Treatment is the perfect first step into recovery. We are here to help you understand all aspects of treatment and recovery so that you have the best chance at a fulfilling future. Call us at (949) 281-0632 for more information.

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