“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.” – Helen Keller
When we come across difficult circumstances in life, such as a struggle with mental health or substance abuse, it is easy to succumb to feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. Many people who use drugs do not have the energy or the optimism to climb out of their rut. Many are ashamed to even try. The truth is, change is never easy. Getting sober, similarly, is not an easy task. It is a commitment and a complete lifestyle change. However, getting sober – and staying sober – can be well worth it.
As treatment professionals, we often get the question, “Is being sober worth it?” Knowing the journey will not be easy, especially in the drinking and drug-using culture that surrounds us, sobriety can be a really hard pill to swallow. Some people come to us asking, “Why should I get sober? Won’t that make life boring? If I am not addicted to drugs, why get sober at all?”
These are common misconceptions about sobriety—that sober people are not fun, or outgoing, or have difficulty socializing. Some people believe that sobriety is only an option for those who “hit rock bottom” and are struggling with addiction. In reality, anyone can make the positive choice to get sober, and those who choose to live sober enjoy a very vibrant and fulfilling life. Sobriety comes with many benefits.
Right now, you may be here because you are assessing your current relationship with drugs or alcohol. You may drink on a daily basis, or use drugs to “feel good” and “have fun,” but are starting to see how these substances impact your life negatively. This is the case for many, many individuals. Drugs and alcohol are chemicals that disrupt your brain’s functioning. This, in turn, can lead to problems with your behaviors, self-control, memory, relationships, and your mental health.
If alcohol and drug use has caused dysfunction in your life, you may be considering getting sober. However, is the journey to recovery worth the effort? Is being sober worth it for the long-haul? Turnbridge alumni would tell you YES, and here is why.
Why Getting Sober Is Worth It:
- You will be present.
In the early stages of sobriety, you may feel like the days are longer than ever. You may find it difficult to get through the day without using drugs or taking a drink. However, one of the greatest benefits of sobriety is that you will be present each and every day. You will be present to enjoy your life and all that each day brings. Most of all, you will remember those moments.
Perhaps you spend most of your days and nights in a haze, clouded by drinking and drug use. Your substance use may have carried over into your daily activities, work or recreation. Because of this, maybe you see your family less than you used to. Perhaps you have pulled away from friends. When you do participate in activities, maybe you struggle to remember them the next day. This is common for those struggling with a substance use problem.
Substance abuse affects your ability to retain information. It also affects your ability to think clearly, and can alter your perception and priorities in life. When you get sober, you will no longer be wasting away the days using drugs or drinking alcohol. You will be more engaged with your life and the beauty that it brings. You will no longer forget important events, memories, or milestones. You will wake up remembering the fun you had while sober, and the people you spent that time with.
- You will think clearly.
As noted above, chronic substance use can have a significant impact on brain function. After using drugs or drinking alcohol for a long period of time, you may have found that you’re no longer able to think quickly on your feet or assess situations rationally. You may find it difficult to solve problems or cope with stress. This is common for those struggling with a drug problem.
Getting sober can help you regain the mechanisms needed to think clearly and work through difficult circumstances. Studies show that being sober can reverse the cognitive damage caused by drugs and alcohol. A recovery program can also equip individuals with the skills needed to effectively manage stress, cope with difficult cravings, and think through situations in times of need.
- You will feel healthier and stronger—both physically and mentally.
Getting sober means you will no longer wake up with hangovers, or have to face painful withdrawal symptoms after a bout of drug use. Sobriety gives your body time to recovery and heal from the damage that drugs and alcohol caused. By detoxing your body of these substances, you will feel better physically. You will wake up more energized and, in turn, become more productive throughout the day. You may also notice physical differences. Your skin, eyes, and hair may be brighter. You may feel more nourished, after regaining a healthy appetite. And you will sleep much, much better without drugs and alcohol.
The physical differences are not the only benefits of to boast. Another reason to get sober is the mental health benefits it brings. With the physical changes you will experience, your sobriety may also bring greater feelings of self-confidence, self-worth, and improved mood as a result.
If you are struggling with mental health issues currently, sobriety is also an important step. Many people start using drugs because they are struggling with some mental health problem, whether that be feelings of depression, grief, anxiety, or stress. Drinking and drug use, however, only exacerbate these symptoms over time. Substances make mental health conditions worse. By getting sober, you can eliminate these factors. You will be able to separate your substance use and mental health problems, actively and effectively manage what is causing you distress, and seek help.
- You will find a sense of meaning and purpose.
Getting sober is worth it for the simple fact that you will find meaning for your life. Right now, you likely feel like you do not have a purpose. You may wake up each day wondering what to do or how to get through. You may not want to wake up some days at all. Perhaps that is why you turn to drugs or alcohol—because it gives you a sense of fulfillment. However, this feeling is only temporary. At the end of the day, substance use just reinforces this cycle of behavior and makes it difficult to break free.
When you get sober, you gain control back over your life. You can choose to fill your days with things, people, and activities that bring you joy. You can work, volunteer, or go to school and find meaning in your endeavors. You can establish goals for the future. Do you want to get married? Go to college? Achieve a career you love? Removing drugs and alcohol from the equation can set you on a productive, motivated, and meaningful path.
When living sober, you will find that your life is worth living every day. Though it will be hard at times, you will find something to live for. That may be yourself, your family, your greater purpose to change the world in some way. You will be able to think clearly and set your sights on all that lies ahead. Without drugs and alcohol disrupting your life, you can think about what you want and take the necessary steps to achieve your goals.
- You can establish (and re-establish) meaningful relationships.
Most people believe that it is their friends and family – their people – that make life so worthwhile. So, when thinking about sobriety, consider the impact this will have on your relationships.
More than likely, your substance use has affected your relationships with family and friends. You may have withdrawn from the people that matter most. You may have hurt them along the way. And, despite the bridges you think you have burned, your loved ones want to see you happy and healthy. Getting sober will mean a lot to those you love. It can help you re-gain trust in places where it was lost, and re-build relationships with your family and friends.
You can also build new, meaningful relationships along the way. One benefit of sober living is the sober connections you can build while in recovery. Whether you are in an inpatient rehab program, or attending support groups, you will find many opportunities to connect with others who are on a very similar path. These people will support your sobriety, without judgement and pressure, and will relate to you on a level that your old friends may not. Many drug treatment programs offer opportunities to build friendships and a sober support network, through activities like sober sports leagues, music sessions, yoga workshops, and more.
Whether old or new, relationships are the cornerstone of a successful recovery. There will be days when you need support. There will be times where you will want a friend to call, a shoulder to lean on, or to celebrate six-months of sobriety with. Building meaningful connections now, without the cloud of drugs and alcohol surrounding them, can be vital to you down the road. These friends will hold you accountable and will support you when you need it most.
Rather than Asking “Why Get Sober?” Ask Yourself “Why Not?”
Drugs and alcohol have disrupted your life in some way. These substances may have left you feeling disconnected from your family, your friends, or hobbies you once loved. They may have created a darkness that now shadows your life. You may see a spiraling effect on your relationships, your finances, and your health. You may not feel happy or satisfied with your current path. If this is true, take this as your sign to get sober. While it can be scary, the grass is greener on the other side – if you are willing to put in the work.
Getting sober can come easy to some, but learning how to live and stay sober takes time. If you would like help starting your recovery journey, know that you can call Turnbridge for support. Turnbridge is a young adult and teen treatment center, for those struggling with substance use and mental health disorders. Call 877-581-1793 to learn about our recovery programs.