Overcoming addiction isn’t as simple as going to a rehab facility and doing the legwork. A lot of people, celebrities included, have done the work and end up relapsing within a few months back into old habits.

They went back into their old routines, hung out with their old friends, and fell back into old habits without addressing the deep-rooted issues. 

The reason for this is because while they put in the time physically, they never achieved emotional sobriety. What is emotional sobriety, you ask?

Here’s everything you need to know about it and some of the benefits of emotional sobriety.

What is Emotional Sobriety?

Generally speaking, sobriety refers to the lack of influence by drugs or alcohol. Similarly, emotional sobriety means having some level of control and awareness over your emotions so they don’t influence your life or your choices. 

For some people, that means finding an outlet for their emotions. Maybe they start going to the gym every day to get some stress out and improve their health that way. Others might take up an instrument and write music to put their emotions into words. 

What you don’t want to do is try to deny your feelings or cover them up with prayer or meditation. This experience is actually called spiritual bypass and only helps you avoid facing the core problem. 

By understanding and regulating your emotions, you gain more control in your life and won’t need to rely on past addictions. That’s why ongoing therapy is essential for recovery. 

Link Between Emotions and Addiction

People who actively abuse alcohol or drugs rarely have the best personal lives. They often struggle to handle their emotions and use these substances under the illusion that they help. 

Some of these emotional issues can include trouble regulating negative emotions, acting impulsively, having difficulty in their social lives, and depression. When something happens in their lives, their response is to distract themselves rather than face it head-on. 

While drug use doesn’t necessarily lead to dependence, it can be influenced by risk factors including genetics, personal trauma, and mental disorders. There’s also the shame and regret associated with addiction that perpetuates the cycle. 

Recovery takes the form of both physical and emotional health. Both need to be worked on simultaneously and continued long past leaving a rehab center. 

Benefits of Emotional Sobriety

Whether you’re a recovering addict or someone struggling with stress and anxiety, emotional sobriety benefits everyone. 

Temptation is everywhere. Just because you’ve been off of a substance for weeks or months doesn’t mean your living situation has completely changed. Most recovering alcoholics still have to deal with family and friends that continue drinking.

By getting in touch with your emotions, you allow yourself to feel them without being overwhelmed. More importantly, you prevent yourself from relapsing because you’ve gained control over your triggers. 

Emotional Sobriety Tips

Like physical sobriety, emotional sobriety takes effort and dedication. In addition to therapy, there are various things you can do to gain better awareness and control over your emotions.

Behavioral Techniques

Achieving emotional sobriety means recognizing your thoughts and patterns and how they relate to your emotions. With that said, it’s a difficult task for even non-addicts. It’s not easy to acknowledge how you feel or why you feel that way. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one such way to build up the skills to do so. It focuses on identifying problems or issues in your life and reshaping associated thought patterns. 

Instead of considering yourself a failure because of a bad grade, think about how you can improve in the future. Change a negative into a positive, or at least a learning opportunity. 

Unlike other therapies, CBT should only take a few weeks to a few months to see results. 


Mindfulness refers to being conscious or aware of your feelings as a therapeutic technique. It’s an essential part of establishing emotional sobriety because it can help you identify harmful patterns. 

If social situations cause anxiety, you may be inclined to use alcohol to cope with them. This kind of self-defeating behavior can be avoided with a bit of mindfulness and avoiding emotional triggers.

Let your friends and family know what you are and aren’t comfortable with. It’s okay to be vulnerable. 

Re-Evaluating Your Response

Like in CBT, you need to be able to re-evaluate a situation and how you react to it. 

For example, a traffic jam can cause a lot of stress, especially if you’re running late for an important meeting. However, it gives you an opportunity to finish that audiobook you’ve been wanting to finish or continue listening to a riveting podcast. 

Instead of going out to a restaurant with a bar to see your friends, invite them over for a board game night. 

Leaning on Others

One reason people turn to substance abuse is to fight loneliness and depression. A strong and healthy social network is essential to fighting those feelings. Even if it’s a sobriety group or Alcoholics Anonymous, having someone to talk to can make all the difference.

Individuals who did not seek help throughout their sobriety were more likely to relapse than those who did. 

However, you also need to recognize when people in your life are causing a negative reaction. They may be the cause of your stress or the ones offering you a substance to deal with it. Either way, achieving emotional sobriety means knowing what aspects of your life need to change for you to stay healthy. 

Achieving Physical and Emotional Health

Facing and overcoming addiction can be one of the most difficult fights of your life. Even if you win, it can come back when you least expect it if you haven’t achieved emotional sobriety. However, you don’t have to face it alone.

At Healthy Life Recovery, we offer an addiction treatment program designed to provide individualized levels of care. This includes psychological therapy and addiction education. Whether you’re new to sobriety or transitioning from a residential setting, we can help you begin your recovery. Reach out to us today to learn more.

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