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Words like sobriety and addiction tend to conjure up extreme images, like people slumped in dark alleys or staggering around yelling and throwing bottles. So it can be surprising for some to realize how common and how diverse addictions are.
A survey of all the different ways we can get hooked into destructive living uncovers a difficult truth – any of us can get addicted, and many of us are. While most of us don’t hang out in dark alleys or throw glass objects on a regular basis, a large number of us are struggling.
What is Addiction?
An addiction is a behavior that's repeated for its rewarding effects, in spite of negative consequences. Healthline describes it as “a chronic dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory.”
What may have begun as a choice becomes a compulsion, with physical changes taking place in the body and brain that support it. There are physical addictions to alcohol, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs.
There are also behavioral addictions such as gambling, sex, shopping, work, and video games. One of the most insidious addictions, often not recognized, is codependency. If you’re in distress about someone else’s addiction, this may be one to explore for yourself.
What Makes Someone Prone to Addiction?
In the past, we've made the mistake of tying alcohol and drug addiction to moral weakness, or certain types of dysfunctional personalities. We know now that there's a strong genetic component. For instance, children of alcoholics are at much higher risk of becoming alcoholics, even if they don't grow up around their parents.
Genes have been identified that are associated with increased alcohol use, putting some families at greater risk. Obviously, environmental factors also play a part, with risk factors including childhood deprivation, trauma, and high use rates in the culture.
It's way too simplistic to say that bad choices lead to addictions, and the belief can lead to a lack of compassion for people suffering from them. Like anyone else with a life-threatening illness, substance use disorders and other addictions need treatment, and people suffering from them need a lot of support to recover.
31 Words of Encouragement for Sobriety that Lasts
That said, here are some thoughts to encourage anyone struggling with an addiction to get help and work towards recovery:
1. Sobriety brings freedom.
All addictions put us in bondage to something. When those chains are broken and we're free to walk away from what has caused so much trouble and pain, that's a fantastic feeling – a high all by itself!
2. Sobriety makes other good changes possible.
When we're mired in addiction, especially to some chemical like alcohol, it seems like all our problems are caused by other people and circumstances. That's part of the illness; our defenses get skewed and we can't see how our behaviors are sabotaging us.
When we get some weeks of recovery behind us and the haze starts to clear, we can see what's wrong with our lives. While this isn't much fun, it's the first step to being able to make real changes that will really work.
3. Sobriety fixes relationships.
The recovery process teaches us so many awesome things. One of them is how to admit when we've done something wrong and apologize, then go on to make amends.
Can you imagine how amazing the world would be if everyone actually did that?
4. Sobriety adds years to our lives.
The sooner we get into recovery from addiction, the sooner we'll recover from all sorts of other things that drag our health down – messed up sleep patterns, anxiety, loneliness, bad eating habits, forgetting to take supplements and medicines, forgetting to drink enough water. When some compulsive behavior isn't driving us, we've got a shot at being healthy!
5. Sobriety frees us from guilt.
There's only one feeling as intense as the pleasure of giving into a craving – it's the guilt that comes on the other side of that.
Nothing's worse than waking up and remembering the consequences of something harmful we've done; sobriety makes it possible to wake up with a clear conscience.
6. You can do this!
Don't underestimate the power of this one. Say it to yourself over and over. When you need help with motivation, call a sponsor, or a safe friend, or check out one of these movies about someone else recovering.
7. You're not alone.
Pride is our worst enemy. A huge part of the recovery process is to know when we need help and be humble enough to ask for it. Then other people can be there for us.
8. It will get easier.
Seriously. Brain chemistry changes. Switch from the damaging addiction to healing choices, reward those choices, and your brain will stop lying that you can't live without whatever you're addicted to.
9. There's a beaten path to sobriety.
Anonymous groups have been around for decades. Medical addiction experts too, solid recovery programs, and all kinds of great books to help you on the journey. All you need to do is follow the path.
10. Sober people are more fun.
I really like recovering people. They're more honest, calm, kind, focused on the present moment, caring about other people and creative about what they do with their time than when they were lost in their addictions.
11. New behaviors become automatic.
Sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes months, but in less than a year, a new behavior you're forcing yourself to will become automatic. That means it’s effortless, minus the angst and the agony.
12. If child addicts can do it, so can you!
Drew Barrymore started drinking when she was nine and was doing pot and cocaine at age 12.
Now in her 40s, she's sober and happy. Robert Downey Junior, another person who used drugs before he was a teenager, said most of his early acting career was spent under the influence. A stint in jail followed by rehab got him into recovery. Then he got to be Iron Man.
13. There is life after addiction!
Around 75% of recovering people achieve sobriety. It might take more than one try, but those are pretty good odds.
Sometimes we hear so much about high addiction rates we start to think there's no one recovering, but that is simply not true.
14. Sobriety will advance your career.
Addictions lie. When we're at the top of our game, addictions like workaholism, or living glued to our phones, seem like part of the success.
What we can't see is how they wear us down, cloud thinking, and poison our emotional lives. Sobriety makes us better, smarter, nicer coworkers. Every time.
15. Sobriety will free you from other addicts.
We find our level in so many areas of life. If we're dependent on a substance or behavior to feel okay, the people willing to hang out with us will probably have their own addiction going.
Their troubles will keep them from being able to be reliably there for you at the deepest levels because they can't even be reliable for themselves. So if we want good friends and lovers who treat us well, we need to stop mistreating ourselves and recover from what's hurting us.
16. Sobriety will save you money.
Right? Sometimes, when we add up how much we're spending on booze or drugs or food or shopping, or we count how many hours of working we miss due to binge watching shows or viewing pornography or scrolling social media – it can be the wake-up call we need.
17. Sobriety will help you relax.
It seems like the object of our addiction is what helps us relax – the joint or the drink or the hit or the completion of one more email.
But not for long. Soon, the same need winds us up again. Only when that cycle is broken can we learn how to truly relax.
18. Sobriety helps you get to know yourself.
Part of recovery is to learn to identify how we feel, and how to express it. It's a process of self-discovery.
19. Sobriety makes you safer.
The people who love us need us not to pull no-shows, say crazy things, fall down stairs, crash cars, spend our savings, or die. They're counting on us,
20. Sobriety gets you cheaper insurance.
Even non-chemical addictions lead to distracted behavior, which leads to accidents…you get it.
21. Sobriety helps you kick the other vices.
A co-worker in recovery once said, “Man, I need to learn about how to invest money. I'm running out of vices that keep me in debt!”
22. Sobriety helps with social anxiety.
Let's face it, if you can sit in a meeting full of strangers and say, “I'm Tiffany and I'm an addict,” those random work socials just don't seem so intimidating.
The process of recovery leads us to connect honestly with people in a way that is so therapeutic.
23. Sobriety is sexier.
Unless you're addicted to sex, I guess. But even then, the returns are diminishing and real intimacy is hard to come by.
24. Sobriety makes life balance possible.
The further into an addiction we go, the more out of whack the rest of life becomes. Recovery gives us the tools to live well in the real world.
25. Sobriety helps you get organized.
Along the same lines, recovery frees up our mental focus and gives us the impulse control to figure out how to structure our days and get stuff done.
26. Sobriety protects your gains.
Addiction is so wickedly deceptive. Often, people can't see how trapped they are till they've hit bottom.
By that time, so much is lost that took years to build up – reputation, family, property, a solid career. If you have the least suspicion that you need help – go for it!
27 It's a whole lot easier to parent sober.
Addiction, by definition, is more important than everything else. If you have kids, they'll suffer.
One sweet woman I know said she knew she needed to get sober when she woke from being passed out to see three little frightened faces staring down at her.
28. Sobriety opens your mind to truth.
The authenticity we need to recover leads to a rewarding search for truth in all areas of life.
29. Sobriety makes you brave.
If you can get sober, everything else isn't so scary.
30. Sobriety makes us wise.
I've noticed that recovering addicts can always spot people when they're lying.
31. Sobriety teaches us how to love.
Above all, the life-saving community we find in recovery gives us the love that everyone needs. Then we have it to give to everyone in our lives.
Final Thoughts on Encouragement for Sobriety and Recovering from Addiction
Facing an addiction is one of the hardest things a person will ever have to do. So is getting help. But remember, things start to get better after that! What feels like the end of the road is really just the beginning of a new life.
It's ironic that the peace and joy we're seeking in addictions can only be experienced in recovery. A good place to start is to join the many recovering people who find help in reciting the serenity prayer. Then, be sure to check out the treatment options and recovery groups in your area.
The only good news about addictions is that recovery is possible for everyone. It begins with your desire to seek it out … and ends with a support system to help you get there.
And if you want more positive words of encouragement, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 65 Comforting Words of Encouragement for Hard Times
- 161 Inspirational Words of Encouragement to Motivate You or a Friend
- 31 Words of Encouragement to Comfort Someone with Depression