Recovery vs. Sobriety
What Is the Difference?
Unlike most medical conditions that have a clear definition of remission, for example, five years of being disease-free, addiction does not. Although addiction is a chronic disease, there isn’t a distinct definition of recovery and its significant difference from sobriety.
Recovery vs. Sobriety
Sobriety is the first step to recovery. They are interconnected, but their definitions are very different. A person living in recovery is managing their sobriety every day.
A person struggling with substance abuse that achieves sobriety doesn’t mean they’ve overcome addiction or even started recovery.
What Is Sobriety?
Sobriety is refraining from using all mood-altering substances and is considered the requirement to benefit from recovery.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines recovery with sobriety, stating the definition as “overcoming both psychological and physical dependence to a psychoactive drug while committing to sobriety.” However, a commitment to sobriety is simply that; it’s not recovery.
What Is Recovery?
Most people define recovery as total abstinence or restraint from alcohol and drugs. But it goes well beyond continued sobriety. It is a fulfilling experience that allows you to discover a meaningful and abundant ‘new life.’
Although recovery is not easy, it’s an ongoing process of dedication to growth, self-change, and taking back your sense of self.
People in recovery know what it means to them, but it’s unclear to most people.
Recovery is the process of regaining an identity lost to a substance use disorder; it’s not an endpoint.
The definition of recovery is consistent with the World Health Organization’s concept of health: “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not simply the absence of disease.”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people typically start their recovery process for reasons including:
- Not liking where your life is going
- Being tired of the drug life
- Having the desire to get better
- Concerns over the consequences of substance abuse on yourself and others
- Difficulty getting along with others
- Seeing the negative outcomes of use from others battling addiction
It is important to remember that each person’s recovery process looks different. However, staying abstinent from alcohol or other drugs is usually a defining element for most people in recovery.
The recovery process may include all or any combination of these components, including:
- Participating in a behavioral therapy
- Attending group therapy sessions, such as an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program
- Connecting or reconnecting with family members and repairing damaged relationships
- Spending time in nature or exercising
- Remaining sober and abstinent from drugs and alcohol
- Staying away from triggers such as specific people or places where drugs or alcohol were used
- Learning how to set boundaries with others
- Engaging in daily self-care practices
- Connecting with your community
- Eating healthy foods
- Practicing mindfulness or meditation
- Distracting yourself from memories or situations when feeling triggered
- Looking to other people that have been in recovery longer for mentorship, support, and accountability
The Difference Explained
Sobriety, or abstinence, is simply not consuming alcohol or using drugs. Recovery is recognizing the use of alcohol or other drugs as problematic and the need to be avoided.
Long-term recovering individuals view the process of recovery as holistic healing or treating the whole person rather than just the disorder’s symptoms.
Behavioral Therapy for Substance Abuse Treatment
Behavioral therapies are effective, evidence-based treatments that serve as an enormous help for people in recovery and those suffering from mental health issues.
Behavioral therapy can further the benefit of medications, especially for opioid use disorder. It can also help people stay in treatment longer, modify bad attitudes and behaviors related to substance use, and assist in handling stressful situations and various triggers that could lead to relapse.
These behavioral therapies include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Contingency management
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- Family therapy
- Twelve-step facilitation therapy
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) acknowledges addiction to be a treatable disorder, but like other chronic conditions such as asthma or heart disease, there isn’t a cure. Recovery is an ongoing process that never ends, like keeping a disease in remission.
At Northridge Addiction Treatment Center, we understand the importance of a resident’s motivation to stay sober and recover— encouraging and strengthening those feelings.
Additionally, we know residents need to identify and avoid relapse triggers and build coping strategies for them. And ultimately, we know that emotional, spiritual, and social support is critical to recovery.
Our compassionate and professional team’s motivation, especially to motivate you to remain abstinent, accompanied by our unwavering support and positive coping skills, can be the best tool to prevent relapse.
Beginning the path to your recovery starts with achieving sobriety. Our residential treatment facility in Los Angeles is the first step toward consistent sobriety and life-long recovery.
NATC ensures to foster your confidence for success even after you walk out of our doors, giving you a step-by-step plan for relapse prevention and setting you up with continued care after treatment.
Our medically supervised detox keeps you safe and comfortable, surrounded by the support of professional and caring nurses and therapists.
NATC is a sanctuary for healing with a family environment and various evidence-based treatment programs. We remain committed to supporting our residents each step of the way, including creating an individualized plan as unique as every resident to address all aspects of addiction.
Every day presents new opportunities to grow and make better choices. Our treatment specialists are eager to answer any questions you may have. Let us help you find your path to recovery. Reach out now.
Our caring and compassionate specialists are eager to help you comfortably navigate this journey to recovery. Our individualized treatment plan, programs, and therapies may be a perfect match for you or your loved one. Let us assist you in living the happy life you deserve. It starts with a phone call.