Emotional Sobriety: What It Is and Why It Is Important

This woman cannot achieve emotional sobriety with this man lecturing her all the time.Millions of people are struggling with addiction. For people recovering from addiction, sobriety is typically the desired goal. Everyone in recovery hopes to attain and maintain sobriety, which usually means complete drug and alcohol abstinence. Unfortunately, some people with addictions focus too much on this singular goal and forget about emotional sobriety. This mindset enables one to live a substance abuse-free life that is productive and satisfying.

What Is Emotional Sobriety?

“What is emotional sobriety and how do you obtain it?” you may ask.

Emotional sobriety is a term that describes the change a recovering addict makes beyond obtaining general sobriety. General sobriety refers to giving up drugs and alcohol, an already very difficult pursuit. Achieving emotional sobriety is even more difficult because it involves the ability to feel and cope with emotions, particularly those attached to drug and alcohol use.

Every human being possesses a drive to protect themselves from pain. The difference between the general population and addicts is that addicts are very good at ignoring their feelings by masking them with drugs or alcohol. Being emotionally sober means getting in touch with your emotions, whether positive or negative, and allowing yourself to feel them. We teach this technique in our acceptance and commitment therapy program.

The Importance of Emotional Sobriety

The importance of working toward and achieving emotional sobriety cannot be overstated. Initially, addicts in recovery may feel that detoxing is the most difficult step in getting clean. However, avoiding temptations and refusing to give in to cravings is a lifelong battle. There may be the temptation to use spirituality, though this actually hinders progress because it prevents a person from learning their true emotions. The concept involves an individual wearing a “mask” or embracing a false sense of spirituality that hides aspects of their true self. Instead of displaying humility, this false sense of spirituality reinforces the barrier between the person and their emotions. As a result, they continue to avoid the truth rather than accept it.

Achieving Emotional Sobriety

Emotional sobriety should be an integral part of all addiction treatment programs. Some therapists and/or rehab facilities may refer to this as emotional rehab or another term. Regardless of the term used, it is key to work toward this goal in therapy. Emotional treatment centers focus on helping clients be present in the moment, whether that present is good or bad. Most people in recovery want the ability to access all of their feelings. Being fully cognizant of reality enables choices, and it is choices that propel people toward finding their authentic self and achieving a fulfilling sober life.

Emotional sobriety means something a little different to every person in recovery. However, it generally comes down to:

  • Maintaining a healthy emotional balance
  • Accepting reality as it is today, in the moment
  • Not dwelling on regrets or wishes

Achieving this involves learning how to deal with emotions in a healthy way. There are many therapeutic approaches in addiction treatment that can help, such as:

Obtaining Long-Lasting Sobriety Through Promises

If you achieve physical sobriety but never take control of your emotions, it is likely that you will relapse. Coming to terms with the fact that addiction recovery is a lifelong process can help. Although there may be a step backward now and then, stick to the goal of living in the present and controlling your emotions. Give yourself permission to experience all of your feelings. It is human nature to feel numerous emotions simultaneously. However, be aware that major ups and downs could signal a co-occurring mental health issue such as bipolar disorder.

If you have been through rehab, are thinking of going to rehab, or are struggling with daily temptations after recovery, seek professional help as soon as possible. Call Promises Treatment Centers at 1.713.528.3709 immediately and enroll in our substance abuse treatment programs today.