There is so much to learn when you make the decision to seek treatment for your addiction. It is scary, no doubt. You will meet new people. You will have to talk about uncomfortable topics. You will have to dig deep to discover many things in therapy that you have spent years running from. And, you will begin all of this while your body is going through many unpleasant, physical feelings.

However, to begin the recovery process, you must be sober. Or does it matter? That is what we will try to determine today: Is recovery possible without sobriety?

Let’s Define the Terms

Before we can truly understand whether one is necessary for the other, we need to understand the actual terms. So often these terms can get used interchangeably – especially by those who are new to the process or who aren’t familiar with it at all.

To define recovery, we can say that it is the time for you to recover your healthy body, your healthy mind, and your healthy spirit. It is also a time to recover healthy habits. This is the period in your journey when you step out of treatment possessing all the tools you need to face the real world as a clean and sober individual. Recovery is a lifelong process.

Now, what does it mean to be sober? Sober is a term used to describe someone who is not under the influence of an addictive substance. This person is no longer drinking alcohol or using the drugs that he or she has been addicted to and affected by in the past. The timeline for sobriety varies. Once the drug or alcohol is consumed again, the individual is no longer sober. However, the sobriety timeclock can then start all over again.

First 90 Days of Recovery

They say that the first 90 days of recovery are the most critical since you are fresh out of treatment. You just met a bunch of new people, you were taught a plethora of tools and coping skills, and then you were released back into society – with no addiction.

How do you survive?

It is up to you to maneuver your way through life using the tools and skills you gained all the while not choosing to fall into old habits and old routines. It’s a tough time and a struggle for many. After all, change is a lot harder than taking the easy road – which would be going right back to the life you knew so well.

It is more common for you to mess up, slip up, or relapse during the first 90 days than during any other time in your recovery.

What if You Slip?

What is considered a slip? A slip is when you find yourself giving in to temptation – and then waking up to your senses, arming yourself with your recovery tools, and jumping right back on the wagon. There are a few ways you may encounter slips. For instance:

Your buddies invite you out for drinks after work. You are feeling confident and strong, so you accept the invitation. While there, you order yourself a club soda with lime. However, when you receive your drink, there must have been a mix up because your club soda includes some vodka, too.

Here comes the slip:

  • You took a big gulp and swallowed before realizing the mistake.
  • You decide that accidents happen and since you already tasted it, you may as well drink it.
  • You convince yourself that it won’t hurt just to drink this one night and you will go back to your recovery methods starting first thing tomorrow morning.

However you choose to view it or justify it, slips are when you slip up in recovery. You make the mistake, you make a bad choice or a poor decision, but you don’t stay there. That is the key. Slips are equivalent to a speed bump on your road through recovery – not a dead end.

When Is It Considered Relapse?

Relapse is what happens when you slip and stay that way. If you choose to convince yourself that you will do it just this once and go back to your recovery tomorrow – you are risking a relapse. Let’s face it: you may be feeling strong and mighty, but that doesn’t mean that you are. Addiction is powerful and ugly, and it only takes one tiny slip to lead you spiraling down into relapse territory.

You are in relapse when you decide to give up your recovery plan and return to your addiction. Perhaps it is the easier road. Or, perhaps you feel that you are not strong enough to handle the pressure of being in recovery.

Whatever the reason, relapse is never a good thing. So, if you find yourself considering it or just giving yourself a “break” from recovery – seek help immediately from your support team.

Lifelong Recovery

It is likely that you have heard, time and time again, that recovery is a lifelong process. That is because it is true. Once you leave your addiction behind, you cannot take a break from recovery or let your guard down. Because as soon as you do, your addiction can tackle you back to the ground.

You have a lot of life left to live and a lot of opportunities to do wonderful things. And, with a lot of strength and willpower, you will likely have a successful recovery.  Though, just as you have time for greatness, you also have time to make mistakes. It is possible that you will slip up or make a poor choice concerning your addiction at some point in recovery. But – you are still in recovery. You will get up, dust yourself off, and get back on track.

So, is recovery possible without sobriety? Yes.

Unless you throw your hands in the air and give up – sending yourself into a relapse – you will remain focused on living your life in recovery and dealing with all the obstacles that come your way, including hitting the restart button on your sobriety timeclock.