Sober Living

What is Emotional Sobriety ?

emotional sobriety   emotional sobriety   emotional sobriety   emotional sobriety

Emotional Sobriety is the title of an article written in the journal of Alcoholics Anonymous, known as the AA Grapevine, by one of its co-founders Bill W.

In the article, he writes at length about the need to address many of the underlying emotional drives that fuelled his alcoholism, and implied that this was in effect a stage that follows the initial phase of getting sober and staying sober.

Many people have interpreted this as meaning different things. Emotional sobriety is often used as a form of judgement as to how ‘well’ people are in sobriety, irrespective of how long they have been sober.

Other people will often compare what they call physical sobriety with emotional sobriety, implying that once physically sober the level with which people are able to adapt and integrate their lives into sobriety indicates a degree of wellness.

It is really important, to understand the thinking behind the term emotional sobriety, irrespective of how long anyone has been sober or not.

Firstly sobriety is about being sober, pure and simple. There are no degrees of it, there is no judgement about it in terms of wellness or not, or how well people cope with it or do not manage to.

Emotional Sobriety

Emotional sobriety should be thought of much more in terms of the underlying emotional drives that play a part in most people’s alcoholism.

Anyone getting sober, whether in a rehab or through a 12 step program or some other way, will soon begin to realise that once sober the real issue becomes how do people stay sober, whilst living with the emotional turmoil that most people feel is inside them.

The process of people understanding and making sense of their alcoholism is a really important one.

What is equally important is that they have the freedom to discover for themselves what this understanding and connection is between alcohol and their emotional states.

Most people would recognise that their alcoholism is a mix of an instinctive or instinctual need to drink, and the sense of relief or freedom that alcohol gives them once they have taken a drink or several.

Often this connection between the effect of alcohol and what it is affecting you within is only clear at a felt level. Once sober, it becomes clearer that the emotional states such as anger, fear, loneliness etc that are a common part of alcoholism play a major role as a trigger for the compulsion or obsession to drink.

Emotional Sobriety and AA

However people come to understand their emotional states, it is normally clear from early on either in rehab or in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous that the main type of therapeutic/spiritual work that needs to be done, is on helping the individual stabilise their inner world, and as such prevent the reflex action of picking up a drink or feeling the need to have a drink.

This work on one’s inner world, on helping to stabilise one’s emotions and begin the process of feeling relatively at peace with oneself at some level begins the moment an individual gets sober, either in a rehab or in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is the real focus of emotional sobriety, the understanding and need to be at peace with yourself.

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What is a dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a term that specifically refers to people who would consider themselves both alcoholics and drug addicts, or people who have had problems with both alcohol and drugs. The term arose mainly in rehabs and treatment centers, and it is important to understand this context.

Initially treatment centers and rehabs treated people who had a problem with alcohol, whether they were turned alcoholics or problem drinkers, or people who had alcohol abuse issues. As this industry grew, people entered rehab who not only had problems with alcohol but with other substances including many narcotic drugs, and various behaviours.

Treatment centers and rehabs quickly picked up on this, and in the specific case of people who have problems with both alcohol and drugs they refer to them as being dual diagnosed. In addition, the rehab industry widened their scope of potential clients or a client base by beginning to define people as an addictive personality.

This meant that  in effect, any individual who had any addiction to any substance or any type of addictive behaviour could be labelled as an addictive personality, and  their particular addiction,  whether substance or behaviour, could be labelled their drug of choice.

Dual diagnosis

There are many people who believe that the terminology employed in the idea of an addictive personality and a drug of choice is simply to enhance the pool of people who can be susceptible to needing to go into treatment.

There are other people who defend the term addictive personality as being  a reasonably good definition of some help an individual who has a number of differing emotional drives and issues which fuel that alcoholism or addiction.

Whatever someone’s take on the term dual diagnosis, in reality it simply means that it refers to someone who has a problem but with alcohol and drugs, or has had a problem with alcohol and drugs and is now clean and sober.

In terms of 12 step recovery, what it really means is that individual will have used both alcohol and drugs at different stages of the alcoholism and addiction, and probably recognises a need to keep clear of both in order to stay clean and sober.

 

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SOBER LIVING

When people talk about sober living, they are invariably talking about people who have been alcoholics or sometimes drug addicts or possibly both who have got clean and sober, and are trying to rebuild their lives both internally and externally.

Living sober is a title of one of the books published by Alcoholics Anonymous that gives a wide range of practical advice to people who are newly sober, about how to handle a wide variety of practical and emotional situations that they may encounter.

Sober living tends to refer to a much longer process, and sees day-to-day living as being that process in action.

Sober living can also refer to a development that has come about in recent years, which is commonly referred to as sober living in houses.

The scope of what sober living houses mean can vary quite widely, and sometimes can be linked to specific treatment centres or rehabs.

The intent behind sober living housing is for people who are in early recovery from alcoholism and possibly drug abuse as well can live together in a safe and clean environment, and have mutual support from each other, as well as possible input from some type of key worker or therapist.

Sober living housing can sound a great idea, and can often work really well in practice.

SOBER LIVING

Where sober living housing can run into problems is quite simply the nature of the environment.

Putting together a number of people who are in early recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse is both potentially hugely important in terms of providing a safe environment, but is also potentially something of a time bomb emotionally if not managed in an appropriate manner.

It is probably fair to say that anyone in the early recovery from alcoholism is struggling to deal with a wide variety of conflicting emotions, the most common one doing an oval office level of anger.

It often does not take much for these emotions to spill over, and in the context of alcoholics and addicts in recovery living together this can be a tense situation or environment.

Luckily most sober living housing will realise this potential conflict, and will put in place a number of practical measures to minimise such confrontations.

Sober living generally, aside from sober living housing, is a hugely important aspect of recovery, and is a hugely broad subject come sing a wide range of approaches and techniques that people use in order to be able to live a life with a degree of stability in a world that used to frighten and overwhelm them.

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Rehab sober living

Most people entering a rehab will at some level appreciate that hopefully it is the beginning of a period of sober living that will last for most of their lives. Some people will see this as a rebuilding process, others will see it as a last gasp attempt to reconstruct their lives.

The nature of a rehab and its commitment to sober living can vary quite widely, both in terms of inpatient and outpatient facilities, attitudes to substance abuse addiction and its various addiction treatment programs.

The term sober living originally applied to people who became free from an alcohol addiction or alcoholism, but as the world of rehab and treatment centers has enlarged, the term sober living has begun to apply to people who feel they are free of any chemical addiction that they might have been treated for in a rehab.

The majority of rehabs are focused on 12th step recovery programs, and encourage or insist that clients undergoing an addiction treatment program attend regular meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous or some other 12 step fellowship.

Apart from anything else, the main focus of going to meetings of these 12 step fellowships will actively encourage the clients who are in rehab that long-term sobriety and sober living is attainable and a real possibility in their lives.

Rehab Sober Living

The term sober living can sometimes be taken to extremes and this is an issue that needs to be flagged up and dealt with either in rehab or in early recovery. People will often enter a rehab or attend 12th at meetings in order to deal with a particular addiction alcohol or drugs.

Sometimes people will also be encouraged to break off other less serious addictions such as smoking, coffee/tea or sugar. This can often present an additional level of stress which is not only unwelcome but also potentially dangerous.

If someone has a problem with alcohol or drug addiction/alcoholism then that need to be their main focus of attention. Trying to get someone to effectively purify themselves is not only no one else’s business, but is also potentially extremely dangerous in terms of compromising a client’s commitment to sober living.

Sober living is a process whereby the individual does whatever they need to can do to free themselves of their addiction, and live a life free of the need to drink or take drugs.

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