When people escape an addiction they have the opportunity to completely turn their life around. Alcohol and drug abuse may sometimes feel comforting, but it eventually sucks all the happiness out of life. The individual ends up with a miserable existence where they may only feel half-alive most of the time. By the end of their addiction most people will just be happy for the pain to stop. In recovery they end up with a great deal more than that. Sobriety really is a chance for the individual to experience a level of joy that they would not have even dreamed was possible. Such claims sound exaggerated, but those who have established themselves in recovery can vouch for their veracity.
When people are still in the midst of an addiction they can find it almost impossible to imagine how anyone could experience joy without alcohol and drugs. Even when they can acknowledge that their own life is a mess they can still hang onto the idea that sober living is dull and not worth having. They can view a life without alcohol or drugs as being similar to a life sentence where there is no chance of parole. This image of recovery couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of sources of joy in sobriety including:
* Once people have established themselves in recovery they can begin achieving their dreams. The individual will now have the time and motivation to do all those things they once only dreamed about doing.
* One of the biggest rewards of recovery is inner peace. The individual feels comfortable in their own skin, and they no longer have any need to hide from reality.
* The individual gets to enjoy spending time with their family and friends. This can be one of the most rewarding aspects of recovery.
* They can get to develop meaningful relationships that will last for the rest of their life. These relationships will be based real caring and respect and not just a shared goal of getting high.
* Those who have managed to escape an addiction can help other people do the same. This can be highly rewarding and helping other people can be a source of great joy for everyone involved.
* Life in recovery is full of possibilities and opportunities. It is common for sober people to complain that there is not enough hours in the day to do all the things they want to do.
* The life of the addict revolves around obtaining, using, and getting over the effects of their drug of choice. People can find real meaning in purpose in their life once they become sober.
* Humans probably only get a limited amount of time on earth so intoxication means missing out. Sober people get to fully soak up reality and get the most out of the ride known as life.
* It is often said that recovery is a process and not an event. The individual is unlikely to ever reach the end of this path, but there is great joy to be found along the way.
Establishing a joyful life in recovery usually involves a bit of patience. There will be many moments of joy right from the early days of recovery, but it can take a bit longer before the individual feels more fully happy with their life. The individual is able to find happiness in sobriety by:
* Having realistic expectations. Expecting too much right away is probably going to lead to disappointment.
* It is important to keep in mind that joyful living does not mean that people walk around with a constant smile on their face – it just means that for the majority of the time they feel content with their life.
* In order to create a fulfilling life in recovery the individual will need to put some effort into it. Just giving up their addiction alone is unlikely to be enough.
* Once people become physically sober they need to begin working on their emotional sobriety. It is this that will lead them to true peace and happiness.
* Many people find that joining a fellowship can help them establish a more successful sobriety. This way they can benefit from a program and the experience of people who have gone before.
* Other individuals may find that therapy helps put them on the right path in sobriety.
* It is highly recommended that people maintain a beginner’s mind in recovery. This means that they do not allow their preconceived beliefs, opinions, and ideas to get in the way of helpful advice.
* Those people who are most successful in sobriety are willing to take risks and try new things. It is always good to develop the willingness to try new things.
* Sticking with the winners is very good advice for anyone who hopes to build a strong recovery. Those individuals who have already made their own recovery successful tend to be inspirational and a source of good advice.
* When people achieve their dreams in recovery it can increase their sense of well-being.
* Techniques such as mindfulness meditation can be wonderful for helping people develop emotional equanimity. The meditator investigates their own inner world and they develop much greater understanding as a result of this.
* Joyful living is often all about perspective. It means viewing challenges as a chance to grow and failures as a chance to learn.
* Joy is not to be found in self obsession and selfishness. Sharing and thinking about others is what really leads to happiness.
One of the stumbling blocks to finding joy in recovery can be unrealistic expectations. It takes time and effort to build a good life away from addiction. The individual will not have made a mess of their life overnight so it is unrealistic to expect everything to be fixed right away. Giving up alcohol or drugs is a vital first step, but it is only the beginning of the journey. There will be good days, and there will also be bad days to endure. The one thing for sure is that life will become better than it was during the midst of addiction. The problem is that progress can occur so slowly that the individual underestimates how much better their life has become. This is because no matter how great things become the individual can still take things for granted.
The main danger with unrealistic expectations in recovery is that it can lead to relapse. The individual may begin to feel disappointed because things aren’t quite as great as they had hoped for. Eventually this individual may use their disappointment as a justification relapse. They will then carry the notion that life in recovery is just not satisfying enough for them. They fail to understand that if they hand only waited and put the right amount of effort into it they would have been able to create the type of life they’ve always dreamed about.
In order to find real joy in recovery the individual needs to develop emotional sobriety. This is often described as the ability of people to feel their feelings. Emotional sobriety involves:
* The ability to cope no matter what is happening in life.
* The individual will experience far less stress.
* Lower risk of suffering from stress related illness
* The individual who has emotional sobriety will not fall victim to extremes of mood.
* They will not have any urge to escape reality using mind altering substances or other maladaptive behaviors.
* The person with emotional sobriety finds it easy to develop deep and meaningful relationships with other people.
* They will hold an optimistic view on life and feel positive about the future.
Emotional sobriety does not develop overnight. When people first become sober they are likely to be extremely immature emotionally. In fact the early months of recovery are often referred to as an emotional rollercoaster because people can experience such extremes of mood. Over time the individual gains more control over their emotions. This happens by facing life on life’s terms and picking up appropriate coping strategies. As time passes in sobriety life becomes easier to handle. Those who are persistent will reach a stage where managing life feels almost effortless most of the time – no matter what is happening in the outside world the individual still feels in control.
When people become sober they are in the ideal position to begin achieving their dreams. This does not mean that the individual should allow such goals to get in the way of their recovery, but once they are firmly established in sobriety they can begin setting themselves tough challenges. The skills that the individual has picked up to help them stay sober will also be useful when it comes to achieving their dreams. It is likely that the individual will have to deal with failure along the way, but the journey to these goals can be even more rewarding than the goal itself. Achieving things in life is important because it helps to increase self-worth. The first step for people looking for joy is to feel that they deserve to experience it. Those who have low self esteem may believe that they do not deserve happiness so they hinder their own attempts to achieve it.