Recovery Center Blog

Why Do Some People Stay Sober While Others Don’t?

Written By Recovery Centers - March 14th, 2023
Why Do Some People Stay Sober While Others Don’t?

Addiction is a unique condition in the sense that it affects everyone in such dramatically different ways. While some of the associated symptoms remain consistent, others vary so significantly it seems impossible that they classify the same chronic health condition. One person might start using drugs recreationally at a young age, and go on to use drugs on a daily basis for years. They might still show up to work, get their job done (however imperfectly), successfully hide their drug use from loved ones, and suffer no real consequences until much later on in life, when their health starts to decline. Another person might start drinking later on in life, avoiding alcohol almost entirely until their 50s. They might become a daily drinker within weeks, soon losing their career, ruining their marriage, and finding themselves in financial ruin and without a place to live. The reason people turn to chemical substances is different, the present risk factors are different, the effects are different. In the vast majority of cases, the recovery journey is different.

If you or someone close to you has struggled with addiction, you likely understand how highly individualized the experience is. The unfortunate reality of the situation is that some people stay sober once they commit to a life of recovery, and others experience relapse. At Recovery Centers we believe that recovery is possible for all those who seek, so long as the right treatment options are in place. Regardless of your age, location, drug of choice, or current financial standing, there is an effective addiction treatment option available to you. Contact us today to learn more.

Why Do Some People Relapse?

Why do some people stay sober while others don’t? Those who attend treatment are significantly more likely to stay sober than those who attempt to maintain sobriety without any degree of professional intervention. Personal experience heavily dictates how likely a person is to stay sober following treatment. The reason behind relapse varies, but in most cases, a person will experience at least one of the following.

  • A person is more likely to relapse if they steer away from their personal aftercare plan. The vast majority of treatment centers offer personalized aftercare planning. This means that a plan of action is mapped out for each client to implement once they discharge. Most aftercare plans include a continuation of individual therapy, daily involvement in a 12 Step program of their choosing, and the practice of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.
  • A person fails to continue honing their relapse prevention techniques. While in treatment a person will likely start honing their relapse prevention skills, which could include setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, considering consequences, reaching out for help, and staying grounded in the present moment. Those who relapse tend to forget their relapse prevention skills, and find themselves unequipped to handle uncomfortable emotions when they arise (which they inevitably will).
  • A person fails to change people, places, and things. This might mean they return to a dysfunctional household as soon as they discharge from treatment, or they return to a living environment that condones drinking and recreational drug use. Maybe they keep spending time with friends they used to drink or use drugs with, or frequently go to the local bar “just to shoot pool.” Changing the structure of your life is not easy, but it is almost always necessary.

Three Ways to Stay Sober Long-Term

There are many ways to bolster your recovery and increase your chances of staying sober long-term. The most effective route for you will depend on your unique circumstances and distinct clinical needs. If you are interested in learning more about the most effective ways to avoid relapse, contact us today.

Stay Involved With a 12 Step Program

One of the best ways to ensure continued sobriety is by staying actively involved in a 12 Step meeting like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. This doesn’t mean showing up to a meeting once or twice a week and bolting out the door as soon as the closing prayer is said. It means actively participating; working the steps with a sponsor, sponsoring others, sharing at meetings, doing service work. 12 Step programs offer a wide range of benefits including increased accountability, fellowship, and cost-effective mutual support.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Additional Help

The more time you stay sober, the more you will learn about yourself — and you might be surprised by what you learn. Perhaps after several months you find that your post-acute withdrawal anxiety hasn’t subsided. Rather than continue suffering through the symptoms, it is a good idea to reach out for some degree of outside help. This might mean scheduling an appointment with a licensed therapist or psychiatrist. Go to whatever length necessary to protect your sobriety and avoid self-medicating underlying symptoms.

Remember — You Don’t Have to Relapse to Go to Treatment

This might actually come as a surprise. Why would you ever go back to treatment if you didn’t pick up a drink or a drug? Going back to treatment doesn’t necessarily mean checking yourself back into a 30 day inpatient treatment program. If you are really struggling and you feel you would benefit from additional help, you can look into finding a low-commitment outpatient treatment program. This will give you a dedicated environment in which to continue honing your relapse prevention skills while working through day-to-day challenges in real time.

If you or someone you love has been struggling with an addictive disorder of any type or severity, there is help available. If you have never previously considered entering into an addiction treatment program, you might be unsure of where to begin. First we recommend considering which level of care will best meet your unique clinical needs. If you have been using one or several chemical substances regularly for longer than several weeks, we encourage you to begin your personal recovery journey with a short stay in an inpatient medical detox center. Once you have undergone withdrawal in a safe, structured environment, you will be cleared to transition into the next appropriate level of care. If you need help finding the right medical detox or treatment center for you, feel free to contact us at any point in time. At Recovery Centers we are standing by to help guide you in the right direction. We look forward to speaking with you soon and getting you started on your own personal journey of addiction recovery as soon as possible.