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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

09-06-18 | By

Emotional Sobriety – What Exactly Does It Mean?

Emotional sobriety. We hear about this in meetings, in therapy settings, in treatment centers, or maybe some have never heard the coined phrase at all. No, it’s not about being overly emotional, as sometimes that can happen in early sobriety. However, some may think that emotional sobriety means being “happy, joyous, and free,” or “living life beyond our wildest dreams.” At the beginning stages of sobriety, it is often considered that one gives their attention to staying away from drugs and alcohol or situations that will “trigger” them to use. When we’re in our addictions, emotional sobriety can be something that the person caught in the midst of addiction can lose, and in addition the family members dealing with their loved one can lose sight of their emotional sobriety.

We can kick and scream our way to emotional sobriety, or emotional regulation, and the good news is, we’re doing the work – we’re feeling our feelings.

Emotional sobriety is something everyone needs to get back after a long journey through addiction. So.. what is emotional sobriety? And what exactly does it mean? We’ve put a list together to get down to the nitty-gritty.

What Is Emotional Sobriety?

Emotional sobriety can be a term used to describe a state of mind that goes beyond physical recovery. There’s no argument that giving up drugs and alcohol is the most important first step, emotional sobriety is essential to maintaining the positive lifestyle change. However, recovery doesn’t always mean that we’ll be surrounded by rainbows and butterflies or free from our problems and intense feelings. Sometimes we can be pushed to the edge by our emotions. Learning how to deal with these feelings in a healthy way without having to resort to old habits is the basis of emotional sobriety.

Are you emotionally sober? Here’s a list of signs that you may be:

You’re Able To Regulate Feelings

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t feel, and it is all apart of the experience of life – even negative feelings. However, emotional sobriety is less based on the quality of the feeling (“good” or “bad”) and more about the general ability to feel one’s feelings.

These newfound feelings can be like a roller coaster, especially when we’re in the early stages of our sobriety. When we’re in our addictions, we try to push our feelings down by using substances. We drank when we felt happy, and we used drugs when we were upset. Becoming physically sober is a process, and so is learning to overcome our emotions and adapting new coping skills to regulate feelings.

Unfortunately we can’t get rid of these feelings, but we can learn to regulate them. When we’re able to be thoughtful and think before acting out on our feelings with our old maladaptive behaviors, we’ve reached an important epoch in our recovery. We must think first, but live easy.

You’re Able To Live In The Moment

No matter who you are, recovery or not, living in the moment is tough. Sometimes we can get stuck in the past and stay there, but it doesn’t do anything for us. The past is the past, and now the only way we can move is forward. Instead of looking backwards and sulking about the future, we can focus on what we’re currently doing, or what we want to be doing, and do something different the next day. Being present and living in the moment can become empowering.

Additionally, a person who is emotionally sober will be able to handle their feelings in all of life’s moments and also acknowledge when they need help. By doing this we can find peace with our past actions, and not overthink about what the future holds.

You Can Form Deep Bonds

Interpersonal connections. Friendships. Bonds. Relationships. Whatever you want to call it, that was something that hardly existed during an active addiction to substances. However, when we get sober and shed those that we thought were friends, we can form new relationships where one can talk through stressors and emotions without leaning on the relationship of alcohol and drugs that we used to have. Once these bonds begin to form, one can develop commonalities and we can begin to see people for who they really are, as well as they see us. These type of bonds can help us reconnect with friends and those that were once close to us.

In addition, those who are newly sober can form deep bonds and re-establish their relationship with themselves. Addiction can take a toll on one’s self-esteem and confidence, and without the substances we can begin to see who we are on a deeper level, and recognize what kind of person we want to become. Self-reflection along with interpersonal connected-ness is a staple of emotional sobriety.

You Take Life As It Comes

Being emotionally sober means seeing our struggles as beneficial and grief as a necessary tool to grow. We no longer pity ourselves and begin to see road-blocks in our lives as stepping stones. Those that are emotionally sober see these things for what it is and can continue to be adaptable to the situation without having to resort to a drink or a drug. Whether it be something offensive someone said to you, or a life situation such as getting laid off from a job. Alcoholics and addicts that are emotionally sober will take the appropriate measures to find a solution to the situation, however know at the end of the day everything is going to work out as long as we stay sober.

Looking For Emotional Sobriety?

Have you stayed sober, however emotions still run your life? Do you still self-sabotage? We can kick, cry, and scream about the feelings and make our way to emotional sobriety, but we can’t force it. The good news is, there’s no timeline for when one reaches this type of state. For some it can take days, and for others it can take years. Sobriety has it’s ups and downs just like life. However, as people who are sober, we have the opportunity to make each day a better one.

Sometimes we can create unnecessary pain and turmoil in the world around me even with this newfound sense of freedom. If you’re still struggling with emotional sobriety, check out our transformative course on this topic on Sobriety Engine, here.


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