When you reached your absolute worst, when there was nothing else to lose because all else was already lost, when you were at the very bottom, likely that’s when you decided to get sober. Perhaps you were in a car accident and almost lost your life, perhaps your wife left, or perhaps your children no longer want to spend time with you – whatever the reason that prompted you to get sober – that was the event that made you seek recovery. However, from that low place, from that earth-shattering event, a process begins. Sober living is a step-by-step path, not a one-time event. It’s a procedure, a means to an end, not necessarily the end itself.
Sober living means a slow changing of all aspects of your life. To do this, there must be a concerted and conscious effort to change, and this can be tricky. Addiction isn’t just an addiction to a drug; it’s an addiction to a way of life. It’s an attachment to certain feelings, behaviors, and choices. It’s an addiction to certain chemicals in the brain that rush or high that happens when you experience the pleasure of a drug.
And it’s important to point out that the American Psychological Association (APA) now recognizes that there are behaviors, such as gambling, which have the same high, or rush in the brain, similar to the use of drugs. In that way, behavioral addictions can resemble the physiological symptoms that the use of drugs and alcohol might create.
So, although you’re no longer using drugs, you might find yourself in that cycle of addiction, experiencing those highs in the brain, from attachments to gambling, food, sex, work, or money.
For this reason, living sober means investigating how you’re living. It means exploring your life for the attachments, the underlying wounds that led to drinking in the first place, perhaps it means seeing a therapist. The process of sober living is a process of becoming more and more aware of who you are beneath the addiction, and that means both the authentic parts of you that yearn for more expression as well as the wounded parts of you that yearn for healing and love.
Just as developing an addiction was a process over time, undoing that is also a process. The path of recovery is, in a sense, walking more and more into the light. You can interpret that spiritually, but it has a literal translation. For instance, when you become sober you open yourself and discover those parts that led you to drink in the first place. It means uncovering parts of you that have kept you walking through life in the dark, unconscious and wounded parts that only want to keep you living life in a trance.
Walking more and more in the light means bringing those parts of you into the light so that they don’t rule you. It means developing a relationship with those wounded parts so that you can live your life from a conscious, awake, more aware place.
This, of course, is a process of becoming more and more aware. It’s not an event that happens suddenly when you decided to get sober. It’s a slow process of growing, maturing, and becoming more and more of who you are.
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