What Is the Difference Between Being Sober and Being in Recovery ?
I work at an addiction treatment centre, often referred to as “rehab.” Every day I speak with people who are either considering treatment for themselves, a friend or loved one. I often talk about “recovery” and a question I frequently hear is, “what is the difference between being sober and being in recovery?” There are a number of ways to answer this question; one I commonly use is this: “Most people wake up sober, but that doesn’t mean they stay sober for the day. People in recovery wake up grateful for being sober. They make a daily effort to recognize and acknowledge their sobriety and to remember why they chose this life of recovery.”
“Most people wake up sober, but that doesn’t mean they stay sober for the day.”
This morning, I was reading about the psychosocial approach to development through life. That’s right, I chose to spend my Saturday morning with a psychology textbook, a coffee and a smile. Oddly enough, I’m not even taking a psychology course. I laughed at how strange this is, being that I am not all that interested in psychology. This moment of humour got me thinking about about the difference between being sober and being in recovery. There are those who may not find joy in reading a psychology textbook; in fact, if I asked my husband to read it I’m sure he would feel he was being punished in some way. However, I enjoy learning about people and human development. Perhaps I am a rare breed. I believe the knowledge I gain from this textbook will benefit the people I work with who are at a pivotal time in their lives. To be clear – I would not have chosen this reading material with my Saturday morning coffee ten years ago. I would have much preferred a Rolling Stone magazine and double the sugar in my coffee. As I move forward in my life and career I am learning how to enjoy and accept what it takes for me to succeed and it now excites me to work on being the best version of me. How does this relate to sobriety and recovery? Metaphorically speaking, my husband reading a psychology textbook because he was told to and hating every minute of it is representative of a person who is sober but not ready or willing to live in recovery. Conversely, a person in recovery has chosen to read the psychology textbook. They have chosen a path that leads to the best version of themselves. They are ready and willing to enjoy and accept the journey, knowing there will be many challenges that come with the benefits of a life in recovery. Much like the transition from Rolling Stone magazine to a psychology textbook, albeit on a grander scale, people contemplating recovery aren’t always ready and willing to commit to the process. Those who do choose recovery have spent so much time entrenched in their addiction(s), they are left with two options – destruction or reconstruction. Addiction will try very hard to talk a person out of choosing a life of recovery. At Top of the World Ranch, we see addiction as a brain disorder that can be managed with daily diligence, determinationand dedication. We understand how daunting it is for someone in active addiction to seek help and learn to live a life of recovery.
“We see addiction as a brain disorder that can be managed with daily diligence, determination and dedication.”
Sometimes we use the term “dry drunk” to describe a person who is sober but miserable because they are sober. They do not recognize the gift that comes with recovery. They do not yet appreciate their strength and hard work that will lead to recovery. They have either forgotten or have never experienced the freedom that is recovery.
In the end, the difference between being sober and being in recovery is simple. It is having gratitude for the positive changes that are the direct result of being in recovery.