3 MIN READ | Psychotherapy

Ellen Diamond

Sobriety – The Road from Addiction to Abstinence

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Ellen Diamond, (2022, November 1). Sobriety – The Road from Addiction to Abstinence. Psychreg on Psychotherapy. https://www.psychreg.org/sobriety-road-addiction-abstinence/
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Of all drugs available, alcohol is the most common cause of death. Alcoholism can happen quickly, but the sobering-up process takes time, focus, and conviction to change. What is abstinence, what is sobriety, and how do sober alcoholics behave?

What is sobriety?

For an addicted person, abstinence means the time to quit pure alcohol and stop drinking. Sobriety, on the other hand, is also associated with introducing changes in the everyday life of the addicted person. It is all about values, the way of perceiving the world. The addict learns how to function properly, rebuilds relationships with his loved ones and sets new goals in his life. It also eliminates the habits that prevailed under the influence of alcohol.

The shortest definition of sobriety is getting to know yourself constantly while making changes.

Sobriety phases in an addicted alcoholic

‘Starting a sober life is not easy for an addicted person. Alcoholism develops rapidly and rapidly. However, recovery from addiction takes time. It is a complicated process that is individual for every addict.’ – Brookdale Recovery Center

But there are several stages that repeat themselves in the event of addiction:

  • Retreat phase. Usually, it takes about two weeks. In the case of alcohol dependence, it can be recognised by the fact that the addict experiences severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Sobering up occurs gradually, but because of alcohol craving and abstinence syndrome, there are many doubts and well-being is not at a high level. This phase usually precedes the decision to start therapy.
  • Honeymoon phase. Well-being is definitely improving. The addict becomes aware of the problem and believes in improvement. The brain gets used to the sobering-up process. This stage can be dangerous as it builds up overconfidence and causes treatment discontinuation.
  • Masonry phase. Well-being is less positive as the initial euphoria goes down. An addict is more aware of the effects of alcoholism, which causes negative thoughts. The enormity of the consequences is overwhelming. Man realizes how much he has to change in order to achieve real improvement. At this stage of sobering up after vodka or other alcoholic beverages, internal frustration and psychological discomfort often appear, which are eliminated by continuing the therapy.
  • Adaptation phase. It is a time to change your lifestyle and look for solutions that will replace alcohol. Mood improves. Mental and emotional stabilisation takes place. Man learns how to plan his actions and constantly draws conclusions. He also sees the positive aspects of sobriety and focuses on achieving his goals. Life begins to stabilise.
  • Solution phase. It is a further process of getting to know yourself. It is about rebuilding your values, finding new interests and making friends. Family, professional and personal life stabilises, which gives most of the motivation to work on oneself.

Knowing the sobering phases can evoke inner peace. During each of them, however, a person can stop abstinence and return to the addiction. The process of change fully depends on the attitude of the person.

What elements of alcoholism hinder abstinence?

Sobering up requires making significant changes to your daily life. New habits should effectively replace drinking and prevent relapse. The hardest thing, however, is to end old habits. Specific people, places, or memories can trigger an alcoholic craving. Therefore, in the initial stages of sobering, it is important to cut yourself off completely from the past, people, and things that might cause you to drink alcohol. The first year is the hardest, but the fight against alcoholism lasts a lifetime.

Alcohol detox: key information

Alcohol detox is essential because it is not just alcohol abuse itself that changes the human body. An addict trying to deal with the addiction on his own, soon after giving up alcohol, after long bouts of drinking, begins to feel the effects of its withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal syndrome develop – dangerous both for human health and life. This is why the detox must be carried out under the supervision of qualified medical personnel who are able to provide the necessary help immediately if necessary.

Alcohol, or rather its abuse, leads to changes in metabolism. The toxins entering the body begin to accumulate in such quantity that the organs responsible for their elimination are unable to keep up. There are also water and electrolyte disturbances. The elements and minerals necessary for the proper functioning of, among others, the circulatory system are rinsed out of the body. It leads to liver failure, changes in the functioning of the pancreas, and ion imbalance. At the same time, comorbidities such as bronchitis and pneumonia or diabetes can develop.

The detoxification stage has a beneficial effect on the addict’s organism. First of all, it allows you to get rid of excess toxins from the body. Their complete removal may take a long time, especially if the addict has been in the alcoholic activity for a long time. In the case of many years of addiction, the effects on the functioning of the body, individual systems and organs can be felt even for many years after the body detoxifies from alcohol. Even when the alcoholic remains completely sober.

Resources: Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic


Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.


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