What is Emotional Sobriety and Why It’s Crucial In Recovery

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  – Albert Einstein

You’ve finally entered a rehab program and have done all of the work to get sober physically. You’ve also attended all of the counseling sessions/therapy and thought you’ve taken all of the steps necessary to deal with the emotional issues connected with your substance use disorder. Now you’re back home, and even though you’ve stayed sober, you are still battling emotional problems that continue to linger below the surface. These feelings can act as triggers for relapse, so being able to manage them is crucial for staying sober over the long-term. You can learn to react to life’s stressors in healthier ways by developing what’s called emotional sobriety.

What’s Emotional Sobriety?

The term emotional sobriety basically means being able to experience, embrace, and accept all emotions, even the most difficult ones. This task is not an easy one and takes a lot of work, but it is the most effective way to stay sober long-term. In the bigger picture, learning to become emotionally sober means finding your sense of self and being firmly connected to who you are, even in the hardest situations. Emotional sobriety is bringing the best and most emotionally grounded version of yourself to cope with daily struggles and stress. Should you expect to do this every day? Certainly not. But learning techniques to handle everyday challenges without running away from them, or emotionally relying on others, can help you to stay strong on the path to recovery.

Ways To Achieve Emotional Sobriety

Practice not being emotionally dependent on others

Try not to impose demands on others so that you feel emotionally better. Instead, check-in with yourself while going through a challenging situation or in conflict with others. Ask questions like: Did I cross a boundary? Did I do something wrong? After asking these questions, if the answers come back as no – then look beyond your place in the conflict. You may realize the other person is suffering and that the issues are really about them and not you.

Behavioral therapies 

These kinds of treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or mentalization-based therapy (MBT), focus on practical strategies for becoming more aware of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and taking steps to change or cope with those that are negative. These therapies are often offered in rehab treatment programs and can truly help those find their center and emotional sobriety.

Mindfulness and meditation

Before getting sober, most people’s minds were constantly stuck in an emotional upheaval or loop, resulting in little to no awareness of the feelings or emotions lurking under the surface. Obsessing about things like, “how I was going to hide my drinking at work?” or “how can I just get rid of the pain I feel,” or other racing thoughts constantly plague those in active addiction, leaving them in a constant state of heightened anxiety and being completely ungrounded. Having an awareness of our feelings and being present in the moment can help in achieving emotional sobriety. Mindfulness can be achieved through different mediums such as journaling, yoga, painting, meditation, or just being outside in nature.

Emotional regulation strategies

Emotional regulation strategies, such as cognitive reappraisal, are strategies used by those in recovery to confront rather than avoid a painful emotion and restructure it to make it more positive, even beneficial. This approach increases a person’s psychological flexibility or perspective when dealing with stress. For instance, instead of feeling nervous about joining a new group, or worrying about the possible rejection of others in a new social situation, reappraisal teaches us to recognize the anxiety and reduce it by focusing on the positives of forming new friendships.

Building a social network

Forming trustworthy social networks that are meaningful can be very helpful when dealing with difficult or painful feelings or emotions. Having a group, whether big or small, that loves you “warts and all” can go a long way in attaining emotional sobriety.

Addiction, Treatment and Emotional Sobriety

No one achieves perfect emotional sobriety. Instead, the important thing is to always be working toward being grounded, having greater emotional awareness, and utilizing coping strategies that are healthy and productive. Emotional sobriety is a journey and can be assisted by addiction professionals in a comprehensive treatment program.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder or addiction, get help now. Substance use disorders or addiction is treatable, and recovery is possible. Daylight Recovery Services takes a holistic approach to substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual facets of addiction and recovery. We ensure clients emerge from our facility with the proper tools and confidence in their ability to lead a healthy, enjoyable life. If you or someone you love is ready to break free of the bondage of addiction, contact one of our recovery experts today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.