Does sober means happy?
This is a tough question. I don’t have an alcohol problem but does that mean I’m happy? Of course not. Some days I’m elated and some days grumpy and unpleasant to be around. These feelings come and go.
Sometimes before you give up a drink or drug you want to know that you are doing it for something better. Unfortunately for some people that “better” life doesn’t come. Many resent recovery but recovery alone doesn’t make you happy. It’s like “welcome to the misery called life but now you have to do it all sober“.
But is sober life really that miserable?
If you were completely happy using drugs or drinking would you even consider getting sober? I believe what makes recovery boring and depressing is a combination of unrealistic expectations and fear of what a sober tomorrow will bring.
We are the only ape who looked forward. Our brains are constantly “nexting” 20% of our day is spent imagining tomorrow. What’s interesting is that we are mostly wrong about what the future will bring and how we are going to feel about it. We set ourselves up for disappointment and unhappiness.
If your addiction created problems in your life recovery is not going to automatically make all of them disappear. You still have to deal with the daily responsibilities and struggles that everyone else faces like work, bills, childcare, taxes, illness, parenting, relationships, loneliness and just general human suffering.
How to have fun sober
First, check your expectations at the door. You are not entitled to an “easier” life just because you are choosing a healthier path. In fact, you are not entitled at all. No one is. Our belief that good things happen when we make healthy choices is faulty. Sometimes terrible things happen to people who have flown “straight” all their lives and have done everything “right”. Sometimes “bad” people get away with murder. The sooner you accept that life is not supposed to be fair the sooner you’ll be on your way to finding happiness.
Secondly, stop comparing recovery to your memory of being high. Notice I said memory. We tend to remember the pleasant parts about our addiction and forget the unpleasant parts. Pain is easier to forget. Unless you prompt your brain to remember. Our memory is very unreliable. It remembers your addiction being fun but was it really? Question your own memory and you’ll get to the truth.
Thirdly, having fun is learned. Initially, the lack of drugs or alcohol will make you depressed no matter how awesome your life is. This is simply brain chemistry. You have to give your brain some precious time to break old pathways and create new ones. For instance, if you have been using opiates you have significantly effected your brains ability to produce natural opiates which kill pain and make us happy. You have to learn to be patient with your brain. It’ll come around. Time is crucial.
Most importantly, don’t use your unhappiness or boredom as an excuse to go back to drugs. But if you do, it doesn’t make you a failure or a “chronic relapser.” It simply means you’re not ready to let go and that’s important to talk about too.