Nov 23, 2019

How to Achieve Emotional Sobriety

If you are in early recovery, you may have heard old-timers going on about “emotional sobriety”. When we first get sober, we often have the misconception that recovery is just about being physically separated from drugs and alcohol. As time goes on, we begin to understand that the substances we used were only a mere symptom of our substance abuse disorder. We used in order to numb our feelings, emotions, and attitudes upon life and our fellows. Becoming fully recovered entails correcting negative behaviors and patterns of thinking. We have to develop emotional sobriety in order to fully remove the desire to drink or use drugs.
What is emotional sobriety? 

Emotional sobriety is defined by your emotional wellbeing and your ability to regulate your own emotions after becoming free from alcohol and/or drugs. In order to make meaningful changes in your life and relationships, it is vital that you work to treat the mental symptoms of your addiction. It is often said that addicts and alcoholics are “restless, irritable, and discontented”. In order for us to create and manifest true recovery, we must overcome our personality difficulties.

Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous describes emotional sobriety best,

How shall our unconscious—from which so many of our fears, compulsions, and phony aspirations still stream—be brought into line with what we actually believe, know and want! How to convince our dumb, raging and hidden “Mr. Hyde” becomes our main task.”

Why is emotional sobriety vital?

When you are only physically sober, rather than both physically and emotionally sober, you will still be affected by distressing situations that you are incapable of resolving. Emotional sobriety is vital to long-term recovery, as it allows you to navigate triggers and emotions that once caused you to get high or drunk.

Emotional regulation skills

Before we get sober, our main issue is usually that we don’t know how to identify or regulate our emotions. Once we remove the drugs and alcohol, we are left with nothing to calm or soothe the negative emotions that will crop up. Learning how to regulate your emotions is a huge part of being emotionally sober. In sobriety, many people utilize therapy or 12-step fellowship meetings in order to learn the skills required to regulate their emotions.

Learning acceptance

Often, we come into recovery with a surplus of unresolved trauma. The barrier between us recovering from trauma tends to be our unwillingness to accept the reality of our past. When we become emotionally sober, we have worked on radical acceptance, which is a tool used to accept negative circumstances that we cannot change. Once we are able to accept the reality of something, it makes it much easier for us to work through the issue and move forward. Also, making it a practice to accept all of your emotions as valid will allow you to work through them properly; resulting in emotional sobriety.

Preventing relapse from occurring

Once you take drugs and alcohol out of the equation, it is vital to learn how to behave differently. If you are still stuck in the cycles of your old behavior, relapse is inevitable. To prevent relapsing, developing emotional sobriety is key. In order to do this, it is important to work through any traumas, develop mental stability, and learn how to work through your negative emotions in a healthy manner.

Author Bio:
Maya Kelley is an upcoming writer in the recovery community. She is passionate about working to break stigmas in relation to mental illness, addiction, and trauma.

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