Long-Term Sobriety Is A State of Mind

Long term sobriety concept, as shown by women hugging in group therapy

Those in the early phases of recovery have probably found well-meaning friends telling them they’re “off and running” or “sprinting towards the finish line.” They don’t understand that sobriety isn’t a sprint at all, it’s a marathon that requires a lifetime of commitment. That is “long term sobriety.”

One phrase those well-intentioned friends and family members don’t understand is “long term recovery.” They fail to grasp how critical it is to your success in sobriety.

You’ll forgive them, as you know they assume it refers to hanging in there for a “long time” of recovery; they don’t have any idea the “long” means forever.

Long-term recovery is a systematic approach to sobriety. It stretches far past crossing days off the calendar a day at a time. This becomes your method to sustain your goals, sharpening up your focus, and rise above addiction.

Let’s look at the basics of recovery for a clearer definition of long-term addiction recovery.

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An Understanding of Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse recognizes that addiction is a chronic disease.Their experts further define it as, “seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.”

The key word here is “chronic.” Unlike a common cold or a migraine, addiction can’t be addressed with a pain reliever or an antibiotic. Indeed, the only cure is abstinence from drugs, alcohol, or mind-altering chemicals. This demands hard work, determination, and perseverance before the struggling person can claim long-term sobriety.

Long-Term Sobriety: The definition

Long-term sobriety is most often defined as a sustained period in which the recovering addict does not use any drugs or alcohol and uses recommended techniques to avoid using again. Below are the most commonly used techniques for long-term alcohol or drug addiction recovery:

Therapeutic Treatment

It’s clear that most addicted to drugs or alcohol cannot quit alone. They require professional, ongoing therapeutic treatment. Long term sobriety is just that: ongoing.

This can be in the form of inpatient or outpatient rehab programming. It entails medical detoxification under the guidance of specially trained professionals and coaching those struggling on coping with withdrawal and carvings. Additionally, it includes therapy to address underlying emotions that challenge those who are recovering.

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A Network of Supportive People

Even if therapeutic treatment is declined, a strong network of supportive people increases the chances of succeeding in long-term recovery.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, self-help groups (aka support groups), “can complement and extend the effects of professional drug addiction treatment.”

Some of these groups are as follows: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous. Each of these offers a person who is struggling a safe harbor. The groups include people who will understand the struggle, share coping strategies, and celebrate milestones.

Improved Physical Health

Addiction to alcohol or drugs wreaks havoc on a person’s physical body. Long-term recovery addresses restoring the body. Early recovery should include exercise, eating well, supplemental vitamins, and sleep hygiene. These will become ongoing habits that will continue throughout the journey.

Addressing Mental Wellness

Like the body, alcohol and drugs can impact mental health in a negative way. Increased mental wellness is one of the most critical elements to ensure long term sobriety. While some who struggle will see a psychotherapist for professional counseling, others might work on making changes like mindfulness or meditation to overcome cravings, anxiety, and depression during the first stages of recovery.

Long-Term Recovery Comes With Time

A woman celebrates long term sobriety at the top of a stairwell

The best part of long-term sobriety is that you can enter a program that works best for your personality and lifestyle; this includes the level of psychological help that you need. Once you find programming that works for you, stick with it! Long-term recovery is about making lasting changes that come with time.

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