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3 Things No One Tells You About Getting Sober

Eighteen months ago today, I entered rehab for what I hope will be the last time. It was my third go around, and I was sick of the way I was living. I had nothing left, and I was desperate to find a way out of my addiction. I hadn’t really made any effort to stay sober after the first two times I went to treatment. Convincing myself that I wasn’t really an addict, I went straight back home after the thirty days were up and continued to do what I had been doing. Eventually, my addiction brought me to new and terrifying lows. All the things I never thought would happen to me happened, and I absolutely hated the person I saw in the mirror.

This time I knew my way wouldn’t work, and if I didn’t find a way that did, I probably wouldn’t survive long enough to come back a fourth time. I wasn’t ready to die, so I threw myself into recovery with the desperation of a drowning man clinging to a life boat. And I haven’t had a drug or drink since.

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about addiction and recovery. And there are some things that no one ever tells you about getting sober.

3 Things No One Tells You About Getting Sober: Your “friends” aren’t your friends

Most alcoholics and addicts hang out with other people who drink or use drugs. It’s comforting to have people around who are doing the same things you are. Once you’ve been sober a while, you realize that the drugs and alcohol was all you had in common. Very few of your drinking buddies want to be around you and you start to realize that you may not want to be around them. Usually, with this type of friend, every activity revolves around drinking and drugs, and it just isn’t appealing when you’re sober. Eventually, you lose touch, and you are faced with building a whole new social circle from scratch.

3 Things No One Tells You About Getting Sober: You don’t know what to do for fun

For the first few weeks or months after getting sober, you won’t know what to do. You’re used to “drinking/and or getting high plus X”. When you take the drinks and the drugs out of the equation, you are at a loss. Moreover, you may find that you don’t even like to do the things you used to do while drunk or high. I used to really like going to clubs and dancing when I was drinking. I loved the pounding of the music and the crush of the crowd. Recently, I tried going to a club sober and I realized that I hated clubs. It was crowded, awkward, and smoky. The loud music pissed me off and the drunk people were just obnoxious. One of the things no one tells you about getting sober is that you have to discover what you actually like to do for fun. This takes effort, and you may have to try a lot of new things before you figure it out. It’s a necessary part of recovery though, because boredom is a dangerous state for anyone who is in early sobriety.

3 Things No One Tells You About Getting Sober: Current Alcoholics are Obnoxious

When you get sober, other people with drug and alcohol problems will reach out to you for help. It’s great to be able to help people who are suffering the same way that you were, but it’s so frustrating when they don’t listen to the things you have to say.

A lot of the time, you see them doing the exact same things you were doing to set yourself up for failure. I have had many people in my life tell me stories of drug and alcohol abuse-spending the rent money on drugs, going to jail, neglecting their kids, etc. They’ll tell me it’s impossible for them to stop drinking once they’ve started, that it’s beyond their control. In the next breath, they’ll tell me they’ve decided to “cut back.”

Another one I get a lot is “I was addicted to heroin, crack, pain pills; I’ve never had a problem with drinking.” These people think that as long as they give up their drug of choice, they’ll be able to drink or smoke pot successfully. It’s mostly annoying because I did the exact same thing.

You realize that many of these people aren’t looking for advice or help, they are looking for validation. They tell you what you want to hear-that they have it under control, and then they’re calling again when it doesn’t work out. Nothing you say to them really makes any difference until their ready. But you can almost predict what’s going to happen based on what they say.

The anger I have towards these people is actually towards myself. They remind me of the way I was for so many years-protecting my disease at all costs and completely delusional.

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