There are many physical, emotional, and mental benefits of sobriety from alcohol, even if they do not all become immediately apparent.
Substance abuse is a growing problem in the United States. One issue is that 28.5 million people now have alcohol use disorder, and 40 million people have substance use disorder. To inflame this issue, there is also a significant treatment gap. Per The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, only one in ten of those who need addiction treatment receive any kind of help.
Learning how to stay sober sustainably and safely is pivotal to continued abstinence without relapse. The more you understand about the manifold benefits sobriety will deliver, the more you can focus on your recovery, resisting any temptation to relapse.
General Benefits of Sobriety
During the initial phase of sobriety, it pays to remain realistic at all times. Recovery is a lifelong journey, and that journey is not always linear. The journey will also be unique to you, but there are some common things to expect in the early days of sobriety.
Both during and after detoxification, you may experience pronounced mood swings. One moment, you could find yourself brimming with enthusiasm about the future and sober living. Suddenly and without warning, these positive thoughts might shift as you slump, questioning why you are sobering up at all. While this is normal and expected, if depression or mood swings persist, you should consult your treatment provider or doctor.
As you ease into life substance-free, you should find any weight gain or weight loss associated with substance abuse normalizes.
Without alcohol or drugs to rely on as a coping mechanism, you may find yourself experiencing a volley of intense emotions, and you may find these emotions challenging to cope with. Learn to embrace these emotions and practice mindfulness, a technique of focusing on the present moment and a powerful way to deal with overwhelming emotions.
Everyone has a personal recovery journey, but the benefits of sobriety timeline unfolds in roughly the same way for most people.
What are the Benefits of Sobriety?
The opening three days of life substance-free are typically characterized by any of the following symptoms:
- Appetite loss
- Excessive perspiration
- Increased heart rate
Regardless of whether you are detoxing from alcohol, prescription medications like benzos or opioids, or illicit drugs, the most acute withdrawal symptoms should dissipate within a week or so. This is the stage from which you will start to feel the earliest benefits of sobriety.
During the second week of sobriety, you may still experience infrequent mild headaches. Insomnia is still likely to persist as your body becomes accustomed to an absence of addictive substances. You should start to feel stronger, physically and emotionally.
Many people experience intense cravings during the third week of sobriety, meaning it is unsurprising that up to 60% of those in recovery will relapse at least once. You could also find dramatic mood swings and bursts of uncontrollable anger complicating your recovery during this tough early phase. These feelings will pass.
Both body and mind are detoxed after a month of sobriety. You may still feel occasionally tempted to use substances, but the most powerful cravings should now be gone.
The benefits you will notice as you move forward into sober living can be categorized as follows:
- Physical benefits
- Mental benefits
- Emotional benefits
- Overall health will improve
- Energy levels should start increasing
- Sleep patterns typically normalize
- Reduced incidence of serious health conditions
- You will look better
Overall health will improve
The moment you stop using addictive substances, your overall health will start gradually improving.
Initially, both blood pressure and circulation will improve. You should notice any weight gain or weight loss triggered by addiction starts normalizing.
Regular exercise in recovery delivers many powerful benefits, both physical and emotional. If you start incorporating 20 to 30 minutes of heart-raising aerobic exercise into your daily routine, those benefits will be quickly felt.
At the same time as these positive changes start taking effect, your body will also be getting stronger without the damaging onslaught of addictive chemicals.
Energy levels should start increasing
After perhaps two weeks of sobriety, most people in recovery find their energy levels start climbing. Take full advantage of this newfound energy by becoming more productive.
You could also consider taking up a new sport or fitness activity to expend more energy and to generate even more physical benefits as you embrace life substance-free.
Sleep patterns typically normalize
Addiction negatively impacts sleep patterns.
As an example, alcohol abuse interferes with your REM sleep. This is the cycle of deep sleep crucial to wake up feeling recharged.
Even though it might take a while for sleep patterns to recalibrate, you will soon fall asleep more easily, and you should also stay asleep throughout the night. Even better, you’ll wake feeling refreshed rather than hungover.
Reduced incidence of serious health conditions
Beyond heightening your risk of developing alcohol use disorder, long-term and abusive patterns of alcohol intake is also associated with the following negative health outcomes:
- Impaired ability to fight infections
- Increased risk of certain cancers
- Disrupted functioning of brain
- Heightened risk of heart disease and stroke
- Higher rates of liver disease
You will look better
As the physical benefits of sobriety start compounding, you will look better all the time. Your skin and eyes will look brighter and clearer. You should be fitter and stronger, and you should also find yourself feeling more self-confident as you continue the road to recovery walking tall.
- Overall mental health should improve
- You can develop healthier coping mechanisms for life’s everyday stressors
- You should start feeling more confident and comfortable in your skin
Overall mental health should improve
Many people in active addiction are self-medicating the symptoms of mental health conditions with alcohol or drugs.
If you have been using addictive substances as a coping mechanism when feeling depressed or anxious, you should find sobriety helps to even out these emotional peaks and troughs.
Self-medication tends to inflame the symptoms of both depression and anxiety over time, with sobriety having the opposite effect.
You can develop healthier coping mechanisms for life’s everyday stressors
As you explore healthier coping mechanisms during your counseling and psychotherapy sessions, you will learn to deal with your emotions rather than blotting them out with alcohol or drugs.
As you develop better techniques for managing stress, you should find that you make better decisions and come up with stronger solutions for any obstacles blocking your continued recovery and sobriety.
- You can start repairing relationships
- You will have more disposable income
- You should start feeling more confident and comfortable in your skin
You can start repairing relationships
Almost everyone grappling with addiction finds even their closest interpersonal relationships unraveling.
As you start showing your loved ones how you are changing your life, you will find actions speak louder than words. You should also have access to family therapy if you need the help of a neutral third party.
You will have more disposable income
Even if you found financing addiction treatment was an unexpected expense, you will find you have more disposable income without the financial drain of alcohol or drugs.
One sound strategy is to save half of the money you were spending on addictive substances. Use the other half to generate immediate benefits, while building or growing an emergency fund with the remainder. This will give you both short-term and longer-term benefits.
You should start feeling more confident and comfortable in your skin
As all the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of sobriety start snowballing, you will become more self-aware and more comfortable in your skin.
How can you best shift from using substances to sober living, then?
How to Get Sober
Research shows that you will increase your chances of getting sober by engaging with detox and addiction treatment if you have external support in place. You will also have more likelihood of completing a course of treatment if you have a robust social support network.
You should nevertheless focus on soliciting help only from those who are not enabling your addiction. Some people will strengthen your resolve as you move into sober living, while others are liable to disrupt your progress. Be selective.
If you need help choosing a suitable addiction treatment program, reach out to friends, family, and your healthcare provider.
Choosing the right rehab is a cornerstone of your recovery. Look for treatment centers offering evidence-based therapies like MAT (medication-assisted treatment), psychotherapy, and counseling.
Most severe addictions to alcohol or drugs respond most favorably to residential rehab, also known as inpatient rehab. Studies suggest that outpatient treatment is equally effective as inpatient treatments for most milder addictions. IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs bridge the gap between inpatient and outpatient treatment.
By accepting that recovery is a lifelong process not a single time-limited event, you will be perfectly placed to start taking full advantage of life substance-free. We can help you get started here at Renaissance.
Getting Sober at Renaissance Recovery
At Renaissance Recovery Center, our outpatient programs for alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, and co-occurring disorder provide intensive addiction and mental health treatment without the constraints or the expense of residential rehab.
For anyone requiring a supervised clinical detox, we can connect you with a variety of suitable medical detox centers throughout California. Once you have purged the toxins from your body and started to reap the earliest benefits of sobriety, you are ready to double down with a suitable treatment program.
For all those with addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, our dual diagnosis treatment program delivers simultaneous therapy for both conditions.
Whatever level of time commitment makes the best fit, you will have access to evidence-based therapies here at Renaissance, including:
- MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
- Psychotherapy (talk therapies like CBT and DBT)
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling
Additionally, we offer a variety of holistic therapies, as well as family therapy as required. To start enjoying all the benefits of sobriety right now, reach out to Renaissance at 866.330.9449.