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Recovery Is Not About Sobriety


Aerial picture of snow covered mountain

When you’re starting out in recovery (from whatever addiction you have), it’s very important to lay out your goals. Why do you want to recover? The answer most recovering people give is so that they can be sober. Sobriety is the goal. I have a surprise for you. Recovery is not about sobriety.


It’s very easy to start recovery as if you’re looking up from the bottom of Mt. Everest. It seems like sobriety is a mountain that you have to climb and conquer. If your mountaintop experience is being sober, you’ll likely never have the motivation to continue your recovery. By pursuing the very thing that you desire, you’ll lose it.


When I coach recovering people, we do talk about ways to maintain sobriety. Every addicted person needs safeguards and boundaries in their life. Being sober is one of the things that will help them reach their future goals. But instead of making sobriety one of the goals, we draw a picture. What is the picture in your mind when you think of yourself in five years? Who do you want to be? What is your profession? What does your family look like? Who are you connecting with? What relationships have been mended? What kind of confidence do you have? What are you fearful of? What challenges have you overcome?


Taking a snapshot of this mental image is a very powerful tool. Visualizing the life you want as a goal is a much more motivating picture than just being sober. Don’t misunderstand me, sobriety will always be part of reaching those goals. Addiction is the enemy of connection with others and a fulfilled life. Addiction takes control away from you, and as you are freed from its grasp, you can start to take back that control and put the pieces of your life back together.


As you work through recovery, you’ll start to realize this. You’ll make it 30 days… 90 days… 6 months… a year. Way to go! At this point, you’ll feel the accomplishment of being free from acting out. People who don’t know will cheer you on and see you as having reached the top, but only you will know that the journey to reach your goals is just beginning. It’s like you’ve now just reached Everest Base Camp and now the mountain of life is ahead of you. Now that you’re sober, you’re ready for it. Begin the climb.

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