Although it’s normal to look at detoxing as the big hurdle you need to get past for a clean life, the reality is that staying sober over the long haul is the true challenge. No matter what your substances of choice were, being sober will be a major adjustment from what you were used to.
Whether you’re getting sober now or you’re sober already and having a tough time, you’re not alone in your difficulties. Here are the most challenging parts about being sober.
Cutting Off Bad Influences
Perhaps the toughest part of being sober is realizing that you can’t see certain people anymore or at least for a long time. Depending on your situation, this could include:
- A significant other
You probably had certain people who you used drugs or alcohol with. It’s extremely hard to cut off people after you’ve bonded with them, and using together can be quite the bonding experience. But if you hang out with them, you’re going to be tempted.
Some people will try to tear down your efforts at sobriety. They’ll tell you that you can have just one drink or one hit, and that it won’t be a big deal. When you have people who are supposed to care about you telling you this, it’s very tempting to listen. The only effective option here is to cut them out of your life.
Setting Appropriate Boundaries
When you’re focused on your sobriety, you need to set appropriate boundaries, both with other people and yourself. One way you’ll need to do this is by deciding what types of situations and places you won’t go, at least until you’ve been clean for a while. These could include:
- Bars and clubs
- Parties where there will be alcohol or drugs present
- Homes of friends who use
The only way to succeed at this is to draw a hard line and be firm on your boundaries. Once you’re more comfortable with living a sober lifestyle, you may be ready to go to the occasional social hangout at a bar. But your boundaries should always be based on what you’re comfortable with, not what anyone else wants you to do.
Dealing with Your Emotions
Withdrawing from certain substances can cause mood swings, but you may also find yourself feeling more emotion well after you get clean. When you abuse drugs or alcohol, they can help you numb your emotions and avoid any issues. Once you’re sober, that isn’t an option anymore. All of a sudden, those thoughts and feelings start rising to the surface again.
Being sober can make you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. That’s why it’s important to see a counselor who can help you manage these emotions and avoid relapsing.
While there are plenty of challenges to being sober, the three above are the most common. As difficult as they can be, you can find ways to manage all of them if you fully commit to your recovery and see addiction professionals regularly for help.