Why Is Sobriety the Only Way?
When someone struggling with substance use hears the word sobriety, they may think of boredom or a lack of fun. Sobriety can seem overwhelming for someone addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Why do you need to have one extreme or another? Can't you cut back? You might think cutting down on candy or sugar is doable, so why not another substance? Well, addiction is finicky. It isn't just a physical addiction that needs proper detox but also a mental and emotional struggle. Often the aspects of addiction that lead you to relapse aren't physical but psychological. Just one drink or hit here or there might sound safe, but it can set you off on a dangerous path.
What Is Sobriety?
When you are sober, you are not using drugs or alcohol. Sobriety is more than abstinence. Sobriety means you are recovering both your mind and body. After detox, you are free from substances, but you are still recovering from the causes of your addiction, the effects, and other parts of your life that have been impacted.
Sobriety is not participating in drugs, alcohol, or addictive behaviors. This is a lifelong process. You will always have problems that arise or triggers that set off urges to use, but addressing and managing those is what helps you stay sober, and your sobriety is reliant on abstinence. Studies show that a commitment to abstinence is the number one factor in remaining sober. Without cutting out drugs and alcohol, the risk for relapse increases significantly. Of course, cutting down is better than not, but abstinence should be the goal.
Risks of Cutting Back
Cutting back may seem like the obvious first answer to addiction. You don't know if you can handle a complete removal of substances from your life, so you assume cutting back is the solution. It makes sense at first. Less has to be better when something is bad for you. However, research shows that addiction does not respond well to this method.
Addiction is a disease. An addiction to drugs or alcohol rewires the centers of your brain responsible for feeling pleasure and hooks you into wanting or even needing more and more of a substance. It overpowers the brain's ability to make safe choices to keep you healthy and alive.
Logically you may want to reduce your drug use because that seems easier than cutting it out, but your brain is addicted. That means that just one small exposure can set off your brain's alarm bells that crave more. This is when you use substances to reduce the unpleasantness of not using or not using enough rather than for pleasure.
Once you're addicted to a substance, even the smallest amount triggers your brain to want more and more. Fighting those urges to use more is often more challenging than removing the temptation altogether. Your risk of overdose or, at the very least, a higher tolerance increases when you attempt to cut down rather than quit. With that in mind, quitting should not be done cold-turkey or on your own. Medical detox is the safest option for getting off harmful and addictive substances. It also offers you the best chance at long-term recovery.
Why Sobriety Is Best
Sobriety is a process you are continually practicing through abstinence, therapy, mindfulness, and more. When you decide to stop using, abstinence is the most successful method because it helps retrain your brain. You are learning that you don't need the substance. Even a small amount can cause you to become out of control.
When you cut down, each time your brain registers that usage, it craves more and risks a dangerous loss of control. When you opt for sobriety you:
Set clear goals. As you likely know, addiction impacts every aspect of your life. You may want to improve your relationship, rebuild your self-esteem and learn healthy ways to cope with stress, but without abstinence, you risk a pattern of addictive behaviors as well as substance use. Without sobriety, your intentions become murky. The confusion within yourself and those around you cloud your achievements. By cutting out substances, you will see things more clearly and be able to find pride in yourself as you meet your goals.
Remove temptation. Even if it is less, you still have easy access to increase when you are still using. You are right on the edge of overdoing it every time you take a drink. It may seem better than doing nothing, but moderation leads right back into substance abuse in most cases. It is easy to be tempted just to have one more or just do it once more. This can even lead to multiple addictions or replacing one substance with another. Trying to moderate leaves you with unanswered questions. Recovery is about intent and meeting your goals. You can't recover without a clear and sober mind.
Learn acceptance. Acceptance is the first step in recovery. When you feel you have control in moderation, you deny your addiction. You believe you have all the power, not the addiction.
Reduce your risk of relapse. Trying to keep your drug use or drinking to a minimum requires a level of control and self-awareness that is nearly impossible to control while using substances. After just one use, you are likely to use more. This increases the odds of relapse, higher tolerance, and a more intense addiction. Sobriety teaches you to live fully without the substance. Without that trigger or addictive substance in your system, your risk of relapse decreases. Your continuous work can focus on your mental health and coping skills rather than your body's cravings.
Sobriety may seem like a huge change when you're in active addiction. You may think that is too much of a jump from where you are now, but California Care Detox & Treatment can help you understand the importance of sobriety for your recovery journey. We offer around-the-clock care and attention at our facility, so you are never alone in this adjustment. Sobriety is a significant change but a positive and necessary one we will work with you to master. We offer personalized care from detox through continued care, so you have the guidance you need to maintain your sobriety in the real world. Our goal is to ensure you find peace and wellness at our treatment center and learn how to carry that into the rest of your life. To learn more about how we can help you achieve sobriety, call us at (949) 281-0632.