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What It Means to Get Clean and Sober

You might already know that you want to get sober, but perhaps you’re afraid of what you don’t know. You might already know that you need to get help for an addiction, but you might not know what your life is going to be like if you’re sober. Certainly, the unknown is exactly what keeps many men and women from getting the treatment they need. Not knowing what to expect in treatment and also not knowing what to expect in their own lives can be frightening. This article is meant to give you a taste of the addiction treatment experience so that you have a sense of what’s coming.

Typically, treatment will begin with a detoxification process. It’s an important and delicate stage in the addiction treatment process in which your body and your brain detox from the alcohol or drugs that they were accustomed to. Depending upon how long you’ve been drinking or using drugs, your body might have developed a strong dependency on the substance you were using. This physical dependency is what needs to heal in order to move forward with staying sober. During this detox stage the body is trying to find its homeostasis, a way of returning back to how it was before the regular use of substances. Because this is a challenging stage for many people, many treatment centers have medical physicians on hand in order to guide and monitor this stage. As you can imagine a person will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms as the body reduces and eventually eliminates the substances it’s been dependent upon. Having medical as well as mental health professionals nearby during this process can ensure a safe and effective detox.

Once a person is no longer taking drugs or alcohol and has detoxified from substances, he or she has begun the process of recovery. Of course, recovery is not only healing from the illness of addiction, but it’s really healing the entire life experience of addiction. In other words, healing addiction isn’t only healing the brain, the body, and the way that they’ve been impaired by addiction. Healing addiction also means healing the relationships, finances, career, and/or social areas of one’s life. When a person struggles with addiction, there is often a wake of damage in that person’s life. In recovery, then, repairing those damaged relationships among family, co-workers, and friends is a part of the healing process. To do this, a person might want to work with a therapist in recovery.

Certainly, when someone is in treatment, there’s a good chance that they will also work with a drug counselor to learn about patterns of addiction and how to heal from those patterns. A recovering addict might also experience behavioral therapies that explore the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and choices so that he or she can learn how to make new and healthy choices in response to challenging feelings and thoughts. Lastly, a recovering addict will need to learn new coping tools so that stressful situations do not tempt them to reach for a drink or drugs to feel better.

This is a short overview of the early recovery process. If you’re afraid of the unknown, at least you have a sense of what addiction treatment might include. However, the changes that come about in your life will be up to you. If you’re willing to work at your recovery, stay open to change, and heal those challenging thoughts and feelings, your life is sure to change…for the better!



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