Improved health. Better relationships with family and friends. Being able to hold down a job.
Everyone knows there are real benefits to sober living. Just being able to think clearly is an incredible relief! But there are a few…secret benefits to sober living. Why are they secret? Well…these benefits never seem to get brought up.
But they’re real.
The Major Benefits of Sober Living
There are some obvious benefits to living in recovery. For example, you no longer have to worry about the legal problems that come with addiction, such as DUIs and possession charges. You also don’t have to deal with the negative physical and mental health effects of substance abuse.
This is no small thing. Substance abuse is incredibly harmful to our physical health. Substance abuse leads to heart attacks, strokes, and chronic diseases such as diabetes, hepatitis C, and worse. Also, there is the ever-present specter of a drug overdose. Sober living helps people to avoid all of these health problems.
Sober living also has major benefits for our mental health. Addiction takes a toll on our ability to think clearly, make sound decisions, and cope with stress. Sober living gives us the time and space we need to heal from the damage that addiction has done to our minds. In sobriety, we can learn how to deal with stress in healthy ways, how to set boundaries, and how to communicate effectively. We can also begin to work through the traumas that may have led to our substance abuse in the first place.
But there are also tons of other ways sober living in recovery improves our overall quality of life.
7 Secret Benefits of Sober Living
One of the best things about recovery is realizing just how many good things come with it. Some of the less obvious ones include:
- Money in Our Pockets: Substance abuse is a tremendous money sink. When you’re addicted to drugs, a lot of your time is spent scrambling for cash to purchase and use substances. In fact, the hunt for money can be so intense it leads us to do foolish, dangerous, and illegal things. When drugs and alcohol are out of our lives, we can spend money on things and places we really care about. This isn’t the only thing sober living gives us, however.
- More Free Time: One of the benefits of sober living is discovering just how much free time we have. When we were caught up in addiction, most of our time was spent looking for, obtaining, using, and recovering from the use of addictive drugs. When we stop using them, we get a lot of time back. We’re able to spend that free time on meaningful things which benefit us.
- A Good Night’s Sleep: Sure, some drugs like benzodiazepines are initially used as sleep aids. However, even their ability to give us a good night’s sleep wears off. No addictive drug allows for healthy sleep. Plus, the negative emotions we experience during addiction – shame, fear, guilt – also cause us to sleep poorly. When we stop using drugs, we’re able to get the healthy sleep we really need.
- We’re Able to Stop Hurting Our Loved Ones: The worst thing about drug and alcohol addiction is we don’t just hurt ourselves when we’re addicted. We hurt everyone around us. When we’re in sober living, our loved ones don’t have to worry about our safety and future anymore.
- Healthy Relationships: Sober living doesn’t just let us build healthy, long-lasting relationships with healthy boundaries. It gives us the resources we need for support when time gets rough. If we ever need someone to talk to who really understands what we’ve been through, there’s always a 12-step group, support group, or another place we can go to be heard.
- A New Sense of Purpose: We know time spent in addiction is largely about finding our next fix, dealer, or source of drugs. In sober living, just about every path you can think of is open to you. Sober living gives us an enormous amount of control over our lives.
- We’re Able to Be Seen: Before we decided to enter drug rehab, a lot of us spent a lot of time hiding. Running into someone who you hadn’t seen in a while and/or didn’t know about your addiction is a tremendous source of anxiety when you’re addicted. Now that we’re in recovery, meeting old friends and acquaintances is a new opportunity to catch up.
When it’s all said and done, sober living provides us with opportunities for personal growth and development. In sobriety, we have the chance to explore our interests, talents, and abilities. We can also develop new skills and hobbies. Sober living gives us the time and space to grow into our best selves.
Sober Living Homes: Where Sober Living Gets Taught
During recovery, most people arrive at the outpatient stage of drug treatment. No longer needing to live at a detox center or an inpatient drug treatment facility, they’re able to return to their homes or wherever they were living before they entered treatment.
For a lot of us, this isn’t the best situation. Our home environment may be distinctly recovery unfriendly. Our families may still be angry about our addictions, or we may have friends and/or roommates who don’t understand what we’re trying to accomplish by attending treatment at an addiction center.
This is where sober living homes come in. They serve a dual purpose. First, they act as a sort of safety net for reentering regular life after time spent in rehab. We’re able to test out the survival skills and coping mechanisms we learned in treatment in a safe environment before entering the real world.
Second, sober homes offer us a degree of protection while we’re still in recovery. For those of us who are unable to return to our homes, they give us a safe place to strengthen our recovery without distractions and pressures. Before we return to ordinary life, sober living allows us a space to build up our defenses so we’re better able to resist addiction triggers when we can’t avoid them.
Finding a sober home can be tricky, however.
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