What is Emotional Sobriety?
What is sobriety vs. emotional sobriety? To understand the differences between sobriety and emotional sobriety, we must start with their individual meanings. Sobriety is the act of refraining from using alcohol, drugs, or other addictive substances.
Sobriety has both physical and emotional components. Emotional sobriety is a skill set rather than an action. It aids our ability to not use addictive substances. Some of the most common relapse triggers are emotional ones.
Anxiety, depression, high levels of stress, anger, and other negative emotions can trigger a relapse. Emotional sobriety involves learning how to regulate negative feelings so that we can alter or overcome them.
Defining a Dry Drunk
When we talk about emotional sobriety, one of the first things to come to mind is what we call a dry drunk. Someone who is a dry drunk has stopped drinking, controlling the physical aspect of their addiction. But they have not recovered emotionally yet.
They may still act impulsively, behave in dysfunctional ways, or otherwise remain stuck in unhealthy behavioral patterns. They have achieved physical sobriety but have not yet mastered emotional sobriety.
Both are important for long-term recovery. And that is not only because negative emotions can act as relapse triggers.
The Emotion and Addiction Connection
We mentioned before that many negative emotions, including anger and stress, can lead us to relapse. Mental health disorders, trauma, and adverse childhood events are additional emotional elements that often drive our addictions.
While it can be tempting to do so, ignoring negative emotions is not a healthy way to cope with them. The better option is to practice emotional regulation, the ability to control our emotional states and prioritize positive emotions and thinking.
The Downside of Neglecting Our Emotional Needs
Ignoring negative emotions is not the only way that we neglect our emotional needs. Failing to manage our emotional lives can mean different things. One common example is the inability to regulate intense emotions like anger.
Another is acting impulsively when we face challenges instead of stepping back, thinking them through and reacting with logic and reason rather than emotion. This neglect can be as complex as a refusal to connect with the people we care about or as simple as having a generally pessimistic view of the world and everyday life.
Neglecting our emotional needs might be the mistake that keeps us trapped in a lifelong cycle of addiction and abuse. Thankfully, this is a problem that can be solved.
Benefits of Working on Emotions During Recovery
Building emotional intelligence and awareness in recovery has many benefits. One of the greatest is that it helps with relapse prevention. But it also helps us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
Developing our emotional intelligence and awareness can help us make more meaningful connections for stronger, healthier relationships, whether these connections are with our family members, friends, peers, or spouse.
What Emotional Sobriety Looks Like
Because everyone in recovery is different, emotional sobriety can mean different things for different people. Here are some examples of what emotional sobriety may look like:
- Working toward a healthy and emotionally balanced life.
- Setting reasonable expectations for ourselves and others.
- Accepting things that are out of our control.
- Being conscious of things that are within our control.
- Recognizing stress, grief, and other negative emotions as opportunities for growth rather than roadblocks.
- Refusing to dwell on the past.
- Prioritizing your emotional wellness over meeting other people’s expectations or ideas for how your life should look.
- Focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
No matter the approach, the goal is to work toward living emotionally healthy and satisfying lives, finding balance and harmony along the way.
How to Practice Emotional Sobriety
Emotional progress and lasting recovery go hand-in-hand. There are many ways to practice emotional sobriety, including participating in activities like mindfulness practices, yoga, and meditation. Art therapy and music therapy are two other creative treatment options we offer.
On the more traditional side, anger management and stress management are proven techniques for regulating our emotions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches us how to anticipate problems and develop effective coping strategies for them.
This is a crucial step in the pursuit of long-term sobriety. It helps us learn to recognize and correct unhealthy thought patterns and other emotional relapse triggers. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a pillar in emotional regulation.
Finding healthy ways to process our emotions is a personal journey. But that does not mean that you must take that journey alone.
Inpatient Treatment and Emotional Sobriety
Long-term recovery and emotional health are not limited to what you do at home. The activities mentioned earlier, including mindfulness, yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, and anger and stress management, can be done here or at home.
Traditional therapies, in the comfort and safety of our luxury recovery facility, can also help. Behavioral therapies, including individual, family, and group counseling, are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
Why Behavioral Therapies are so Important
To be the primary treatment method in addiction recovery, behavioral therapies must pack a powerful punch. And we’re speaking from experience when we say that they live up to the hype. There is a good reason that recovery centers across the country prioritize these treatments.
Research shows that behavioral therapies help us achieve many common recovery goals, including:
- Addressing your unique motivation to change.
- Identifying abstinence incentives.
- Building relapse prevention skills.
- Replacing drug or alcohol-seeking and otherwise unhealthy habits, thought patterns, and coping mechanisms with healthier ones.
- Improving our relationships and communication skills.
- Reducing or eliminating the symptoms of common mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, among others.
Individuals with moderate to severe addictions, a history of relapse, health concerns, or other potential complications may benefit the most from full-time, inpatient care.
Additional Treatment Programs and Settings
One of the most common recovery paths starts with detox and inpatient care. Next, clients following this path typically transition into an intensive outpatient or traditional outpatient care setting. After some time, most transition again, this time into aftercare treatments.
Aftercare treatments include activities like support group meetings, alumni programs, and continued counseling. While this is one of the most common courses of action in recovery, it is not the right path for everyone.
Others with milder addictions and withdrawal symptoms, solid support systems at home, or full-time work or family obligations may prefer not to attend an inpatient program. Instead, they may choose to start with an intensive outpatient program, which averages less than 20 hours of meetings and other treatments each week.
Or a traditional outpatient program, which provides support with even more flexible time constraints. But we do not expect you to choose a program on your own. We will get to know you and your addiction, symptoms, and needs to help you choose the right recovery path.
Achieving Emotional Wellness at The Discovery House
Emotional wellness is a crucial component in long-term recovery. But it is also a challenging one. There are no shortcuts to building emotional sobriety, and breaking old habits isn’t always easy. However, over time and with effort, it becomes more manageable.
Our holistic recovery approach and customized care plans can make it more manageable, too. Call our confidential call line, day or night, at 818-452-1676 for more information.