Getting sober – for too many people, those two words represent a seemingly-unattainable reality. You feel like you’re endlessly falling down a hole leading to inevitable death, and then someone throws you a rope. But now what? Instead of early death, you’re faced with the prospect of once again having a future through recovery and getting sober.
It’s more than a little mind-boggling to think that not only is there a future for you, but that you might be able to live it free of addiction and that you can find actual happiness once more. It’s the most unlikely of second chances.
Getting Sober: Where to Begin
Where to begin, that’s probably the biggest question you face. I suppose detoxifying all the chemicals and garbage out our systems will help us better function in the way we are naturally intended to. All the alcohol and drugs do is weigh us down anyway. So heavy. Now the goal is to start shedding that weight that prevented us from life for so long.
The initial process of detoxification will put the body through hell, and maintaining proper hydration and rest will be the godsend you need for getting through it.. The idea of addiction and the aspect of recovery following it are more so the mental gymnastics of this life after getting sober. With both the brain and body in mind, there will be trial and error- but the living, breathing results will be worth it.
What Science Says About Getting Sober
Chemically, what’s happening inside the body as we begin to detox from drug or alcohol addiction?
We know that addiction develops when we’re consuming substances that abuse the brain’s reward system. The chemicals in the drugs interact with the brain and release strong feel-good hormones, rewiring the brain to prioritize that high over anything else. When we can’t achieve that high, our brains suffer, causing us to feel desperate or depressed.
When we’re in recovery, we’re working on re-rewiring the brain back to its normal, non-addicted state. However, because of the lack of feel-good hormones from the drugs during recovery, we begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms come as the brain is beginning to adjust to the sudden drop in the chemicals we were addicted to. Because these symptoms are often scary and sometimes even painful, the best way to detox is always under the care of doctors, nurses, or other trained healthcare practitioners.
Each person’s experience with detoxing and withdrawal symptoms is unique, depending on the substances they’d been using, how long they were drinking or using for, and their mental and physical functioning.
You Have to Believe It Will Get Better
It is often recommended that when starting the cleaning of your system and readying for this life after getting sober, doing a little more than just dropping the substances is required. For us true addicts and alcoholics, this sobriety thing can only be preserved with due diligence and the work of patience put into it.
Upon entering recovery or sobriety, it is imperative to know that sometimes you must run twice as fast just to stay in place- a favorite saying of mine used over and over again (sometimes I’m just that broken record player skipping on repeat in the background). Addiction and alcoholism are tricky mental diseases that will catch people off guard time and time again. So, being proactive in our health choices will help everything flow smoothly as the chemicals slowly exit our bodies and we continue looking into this life after getting sober.
Before and After Getting Sober: A Study in Contrasts
Understanding the journey you face physically and mentally before and after getting sober is important.
At first, there are going to be aches and pains in places that you didn’t know even existed. There’s no sugarcoating this. Be prepared for discomfort. Your knees will hurt, nausea will come and go, hot flashes and goose pimples will seem like the norm. Brace yourself because it will not be fun depending on the buffet of chemicals that you’re coming off of. This is the body’s process of cleaning itself out.
Eventually, things will start to ease up and there will begin a new sense of clarity involving all physical aspects. As weeks continue on and the initial sweaty discomfort has played its course, the body will start to renew itself. You will find:
- Aches disappearing
- Renewed energy and stamina throughout the day
- Sleeping better
- Increased appetite
The overall physical comfort involved in the situation will improve in ways that you thought impossible during the throes of withdrawals and detox. As the body and mind heal after getting sober, it starts to become apparent that age wasn’t nearly as much a culprit on the wear and tear of our bodies as the substances were.
It’s Getting Better All of the Time
Of course, everything happening in the healing process of the body is occurring in the mind too. This includes sleep, exercise, and nutrition as top priorities in that list. Not staying up too many hours and trying to get on a regular sleep schedule does both the mind and body wonders.
Physical activity can help you sweat out toxins over time even after the detoxing is done, it can increase healthy blood flow to your heart, and it can release endorphins in the brain causing you to be in a content state of mind. Certain healthy patterns can make or break the mental state of your well-being in life after getting sober.
As we continue moving down this new-found path of glory, our mental state will continue to adapt with our bodies. We will begin hearing and seeing things clearer. The mind will begin to function with greater clarity. Natural things that used to give us pleasure will soon become our new high- and there are limitless possibilities of how to create that high. Releasing endorphins with activities such as exercise, sex, or volunteering and helping others will have this whole new connected meaning that we forgot about after years of the chemical obsession.
Better, Better, Better
Everyone’s body and mind are different, so it’s important to understand that everyone’s journey from addiction to sobriety will also differ. Some will enjoy specific things more than others, and some will respond quicker to positive stimuli over others.
Rest assured that it’s just a matter of a little introspection and figuring yourself out as we push forward in this life after getting sober. After a little perseverance, the mind and body heal in ways that will return your rational sanity back to the “before times”, before addiction overtook.
You see, when deep in active addiction, we always think we see things so clearly. Looking back, it’s more than apparent that we were looking at life through this jail-fogged glass. To know that you’re not looking at life in this distorted view anymore is so very comforting.
You’ll thank yourself down the road after getting sober. It’s just something about knowing how clear-headed you’ve become and seeing a light on the pathway, instead of fumbling around in the complete darkness.
What to Expect Physically and Mentally After Getting Sober
We’ve touched on a few of the things you can expect after getting sober, but there are others that you will experience.
Many people experience weight gain after getting sober, particularly if your drug of choice was heroin, cocaine, or meth. This is natural and is nothing more than your body rebuilding itself after the ravages of drugs.
While there is often nothing to worry about if you’re gaining weight after getting sober, that’s not always the case. In some instances, people will turn to food to “scratch their itch”. This is most infamous with smokers who turn to food rather than smoking a cigarette, but it can happen with all types of addiction.
Regular exercise, healthy meal planning, group support, and regular therapy are all critical tools to prevent this and to help with losing weight.
Those struggling with alcoholism face the opposite problem, though. Losing weight after getting sober from alcohol will require a commitment to regular exercise (both cardio and strength training), as well as a healthy dose of patience, as it can take time to shed pounds.
Finally, many people report experiencing vivid dreams after getting sober. Again, this is natural and to be expected. It’s part of how your brain handles the detoxification process and is not harmful.
Addiction Does Not Have to Be Your Future
Addiction is a monster and drugs and alcohol are the teeth that rend and tear at your mind and body. While some people can indulge moderately, that’s not the case for all people. For many of us, addiction bites and it bites hard. However, that doesn’t have to be your reality moving forward.
You don’t have to let addiction devour you (or your loved one). If you’re ready to start the process of healing, call us at 512-746-7036. There is help and hope. There is a solution! You just have to reach out and take our hand.