How to Achieve Emotional Sobriety


What is emotional sobriety? Many people might think “happiness, joy, and freedom” refers to the saying used in 12 step meetings and derived from Alcoholics Anonymous culture.

By working hard on their program, they will reach physical sobriety (abstinence) and become happy.

Unfortunately, this definition puts a lot of people in recovery in a tough position. For instance, if a person is suffering from depression, how does that affect their mental sobriety? 

To learn more about how to achieve and practice emotional sobriety continue reading. 

A Closer Look at Emotional Sobriety 

Emotional sobriety is an essential but often overlooked part of the recovery process.

Emotional sobriety generally involves:

  • Maintaining emotional balance and health
  • Being present and live in the present 
  • Accepting that suffering and grief are natural parts of life that enable us to grow as individuals
  • Not dwelling on the past
  • Be mindful of others’ expectations and perceptions, and don’t let them influence your self-esteem or negatively impact your behavior
  • Relinquishing one’s emotional dependency, especially on substances

To prevent relapse, it’s essential to learn to manage emotions in a healthy way, since people with substance use disorders usually turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their emotional distress.

There are times when emotional sobriety simply means learning how to tolerate your emotions. Maintaining sobriety is about avoiding the temptation to drink or use regardless of your feelings. 

Life can be challenging, so you don’t have to blame yourself or your program for that. This means that getting rid of the feeling does not require any action on your part. 

Many people will take their negative emotions and try to find any technique to distract themselves from them.  However, this coping strategy only helps individuals heal on the surface and doesn’t create a long-term solution.

Emotion and Addiction

Alcoholics and drug addicts often have difficulty managing their emotions. 

Characteristics they may exhibit include:

  • Trouble managing negative emotions such as anger or frustration
  • A tendency to act impulsively or in a dangerous manner in emotionally challenging situations
  • Having difficulty maintaining intimate relationships
  • Inability to adapt to adverse conflicts or problems at work or school
  • Tendency to have a pessimistic point of view

One factor that contributes to emotion and addiction is a traumatic childhood experience. 

In a study conducted by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), researchers examined how different childhood trauma affects a person’s behavior as an adult. 

Children’s trauma was found to be strongly associated with adult depression, anxiety, addiction, and relationship difficulties. 

Ways to Achieve Emotional Sobriety

Everyone approaches emotional sobriety differently. It can take longer or shorter for some people to manage emotions successfully, and certain strategies are more effective for some people than others. 

Many strategies and techniques are included in good addiction treatment centers and programs to help individuals develop emotional sobriety. 

There are also some essential techniques and practices that anyone can use in the treatment or not. 

Behavioral Therapy

Therapies of this kind, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), encourage people to become more aware of their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in the present and to change or cope with their negative characteristics. 

Tools are provided to help overcome negative feelings to be dealt with in a positive way outside of therapy.

Accepting Emotions 

Individuals who struggle with addiction often feel shame and guilt as a result. The individual may also still experience these emotions during their recovery as well as additional ones such as anxiety and fears for the future. 

To prevent relapse, it is essential to be able to cope with these different emotions. Accepting emotions, both good and bad, is the first step to dealing with them. To be emotionally sober, one must be able to acknowledge feelings, acknowledge them, and accept them.

Heal Holistically 

A great alternative to traditional psychotherapy and medication is holistic therapy

Holistic therapies can be beneficial in conjunction with behavioral therapies when it comes to promoting emotional sobriety. The purpose of holistic therapies is to help individuals attain mindfulness, which is the ability to live in the present. 

The past experiences of recovering individuals interfere with their ability to cope with the present. However, this can lead to relapse and harm recovery efforts. 

Several holistic therapies, such as: 

  • Soundbath
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindfulness
  • Breathwork
  • Meditation

Get Help with No matter What Recovery

The journey to emotional sobriety is different for everyone.  Our patients are provided with the tools they need to establish their own emotional sobriety at No Matter What Recovery. 

If you or a loved one is struggling to achieve physical and emotional well-being contact us today.  Our caring and compassionate staff will work with you to customize a personal recovery program.  To learn more call us at (323) 515-1296.