Sobriety and recovery are viewed as interchangeable terms. However, Chelsea Korzenieski, Marshfield Clinic Health System AmeriCorps Recovery Coach, says they are vastly different.
Defining sobriety and recovery
Being sober simply means you’re not under the effect of a substance currently. In contrast, recovery is the healing or process of becoming better physically, emotionally and mentally while sober.
According to FHE (Florida House Experience) Health recovery is working towards your betterment not just refraining from a substance.
“Sobriety is day-to-day, short-term, not drinking or using,” said Korzenieski. “When you have one or two days sober, you want to get to recovery. This is where you’re living your life, looking long-term with goals to make mental and physical changes to set yourself up for success.”
Take care of your basic needs first
Getting sober is a good step and shouldn’t be looked at as the end, but rather the beginning of your recovery.
“When you start getting sober that’s when the work comes in,” Korzenieski said. “Sobriety isn’t something you wake up and say, ‘I’m done drinking or gambling or whatever it is.’ You need to look at the root of your problem.”
It also is critical to have your basic needs addressed, including food and shelter. Often times, people trick themselves into thinking if you stay busy or work more it will solve the problem. However, the stress or a trigger can often cause a relapse. Take care of the essentials first, Korzenieski said.
“There is always an underlying factor whether it’s stress, being lonely, events that build or lead up to a relapse,” she said. “Noticing those triggers is a big part of recovery. It can be hard to look internally. You have to take your own time, plan and look long-term. Ask yourself, ‘What is my life going to look like in recovery?’”
Find your support group
Additionally, it’s important to find a support group, whether it’s Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or a lifestyle coach, friends or family. Don’t try to reach recovery by yourself.
There’s a stigma surrounding the issue of substance use disorder, Korzenieski said. Most people struggling with alcohol or drugs have attempted to quit on their own.
“Sometimes days go by and all of a sudden you have a bad day or a trigger,” she said. “That’s why the support is so pivotal. If you feel the urge to drink, you can call someone who can be there for you. Nobody does this alone. Maybe reach out and volunteer to have outside relationships. We are social people. I am a firm believer outside relationships are key and important for long-term recovery.”
Korzenieski also encourages those recovering to reach out to their provider or local recovery center for resources available.