Sobriety. You’ve read all the self-help books and online articles telling you why it’s great. You’ve scanned the many inspirational quotes scattered across the internet to remind yourself that it’s worth the work. You want to get there. But of course, the reality is never as simple as that. The earliest stages of recovery from alcohol addiction are especially hard, even for those who sincerely intend to remain sober1.
As you prepare for recovery, it helps to know what to expect from the very beginning. Here are four unexpectedly hard challenges many people experience in sobriety.
1. The Discomfort of Change
Change is uncomfortable—even when it’s a good change. Drinking keeps you in the same place, provides you with familiar feelings, and seems to help you cope with life’s stress. It offers predictable chaos that can become a comfortable norm.
The process of getting sober changes everything. You’re now seeing the world through sober eyes again, which gives you a chance to reevaluate your life and what you want out of it. If you can accept this discomfort and work with it, rather than ignoring it, each step you take will only make you stronger.
2. Loss and Loneliness
As you get sober, it’s vital to surround yourself with people who support your efforts. Sadly, you may need to cut some friendships loose along the way, especially when it comes to those who don’t have your best interest at heart. When this happens, you may feel a deep sense of loss and loneliness.
It’s okay to feel sad about what and whom you’re leaving behind. Still, as you move forward, know that you will form new relationships with people who share your values and care about your journey.
3. Facing Failure
One of the most surprising challenges during sobriety is coming to terms with the fact that your recovery will not be flawless. While treatment is an important aspect of maintaining sobriety and will definitely help, it’s not uncommon to face relapse. In fact, 40-60 percent of people fall into old drinking habits2 at some point—even those who’ve been sober for quite some time.
Relapse is a normal part of getting sober for many people, so don’t let shame drag you down. If you take a drink or get drunk, tell someone and ask for support. Each misstep is an important lesson that will help build your resolve.
Most people won’t admit it, but sober living can feel boring, especially in those first few months. Boredom is one reason so many people relapse early on. When drinking defines your social life, you may struggle to remember how to have fun without it.
But remember: over time you will figure out what you like to do without alcohol. Sobriety is actually a wonderful chance to rediscover missing parts of yourself, explore new hobbies, and fill your time with more rewarding pursuits. Stick with it, and a different, more rewarding life will come into focus.
Find Treatment That Works for You
Let this list be a reminder that you’re not the only one facing obstacles. You can tackle these common challenges during your sobriety as they come—one at a time. Finding the right support can also help you on your way. Ria Health is not rehab as usual. It’s an evidence-based approach that uses medication-assisted treatment and online support to help you stop or reduce how much you drink.
Ria does not view abstinence as the only solution, and we don’t believe that those who struggle with alcohol need always be “alcoholics.” We understand that recovery is a journey with ups and downs. Pharmacotherapy with specialized medications can help you manage cravings, while weekly online check-ins with your recovery coach will help you track your progress, and encourage you to keep going when things are tough.