It’s widely thought that getting sober is the ending to a chapter in your life. While this can be true, it’s not the end of your life, it’s the beginning. When we recover our lives change drastically. Personally, I thought I would never have fun again, be social, or enjoy events where alcohol is a staple, like weddings, birthday parties, and holiday get-togethers. I thought I was just going to stop drinking and that would be that. I didn’t realize there would be countless ways my life would change in recovery. Here are a few drastic changes you can expect.
1. A fresh beginning
You will not be the same person as you were during your addiction. Your sobriety will be a turning point in your life. It will always be a “before sobriety,” and, “after sobriety,” thing. I didn’t think I would become a new person, I just thought I would not drink, but when I began to look inward and work on myself natural changes happened. Living drug and alcohol free allowed me to slowly become the best version of myself. I was able to look at old coping mechanisms, unhealthy behavioral patterns, and past mistakes and learn from them. Now that I know better, I do better and my life is easier and happier because of it.
2. New opportunities
I never thought I was a person who didn’t have choices in my life. When I got sober I realized just how much of my life was ruled by partying and booze. It didn’t matter that I didn’t drink every night, I still was on the lookout for parties, people to party with, drugs, and alcohol a lot of the time. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was cleaning up the mess and drama I created when I did drink. It consumed a great deal of my time and energy. I also drank in a manner that resulted in blackouts. In a blackout, I relinquished any sort of choices I had. I was no longer in control of myself or my body. Without alcohol in my life I have my choices back. If I feel uncomfortable in a situation I can leave or remove myself from it. I no longer blackout or put myself in dangerous places with strangers or other people who may not have my best interest.
3. Lose relationships, but gain others
This can be hard to accept in recovery, but it’s just a part of the new life you’ll live. During my addiction, I had many friendships that didn’t serve me, and I had others that I didn’t contribute to or took for granted. Getting sober changed all of my relationships. I learned how to show up, how to be responsible and communicate. I let go of toxic people and situations. In recovery, I’ve gained a ton of new friendships, many with other sober women who support me and have been through what I’ve been through. Being sober gives you a better idea of what you will and won’t except in relationships.
4. Rid of self-inflicted sickness
I had nasty hangovers when I drank. When I took cocaine, my heart would race for days afterwards. Depression and anxiety filled me and I found it impossible to break free from. Eventually I would end up drinking again. I would endure headaches, stomachaches, vomiting, and exhaustion that could last for days at a time. I wouldn’t eat or I would eat too much. It wasn’t healthy and I’m glad that in recovery I do not self-inflict this kind of destruction on my body anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t get sick or make unhealthy food choices sometimes, because I do, but I no longer have hangovers or other sickness brought on my alcohol and drugs.
5. Living in the moment
The irony is I always felt like I was living in the moment during my addiction. I thought I was “living every day like it was my last,” and being spontaneous and carefree in the process. I had no concept of the word mindfulness and no clue what it actually meant to be present in any situation. In recovery, I’ve learned how to stop and pause, how to feel gratitude in every moment, and to sit in the here and now. I hardly ever wish I was somewhere else other than the present moment and when I do I know it’s because I’m uncomfortable or working through something. I know that life is a process and that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Your life will change drastically in recovery, but it won’t just be about mocktails, designated driving, and AA. It will be about how you feel. It will be about your health, your relationships, your coping mechanisms and your communication. You will finally feel like you are truly living.
About the Author
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine. She is currently writing a memoir.