Top 12 Benefits of Living Sober

By Renee W.
Originally published on Camino Recovery

Early in recovery, it may be hard to think of yourself as completely sober and actually enjoying life.

You may go to 12 step meetings and see happy people and wonder if they are actually sober at all (or at least that was a thought I had in early recovery).

There is no doubt you can be sober and happy at the same time – even if it feels impossible right now.

I am living proof that it is possible.

Some benefits to living sober are obvious – more money, weight loss, no more lying to family and friends. Others, however, may be more unexpected, and when you will experience them, you will know what I mean.

Let’s look and see the top twelve benefits of living sober.

1. Your health improves

Well, that’s an obvious one. No more filling your body with the empty calories of booze. Your health is going to improve. You may lose weight. Your blood pressure will improve. You may want to start exercising, which not only helps you physically but mentally as well.

When I got sober the first time, I dropped 50 pounds in less than a year without even trying.

My blood pressure lowered to a healthy range, and I started exercising which made me feel better. I was shocked at how many positive health changes I saw in just my first year of sobriety.

2. You have more money

Want a savings plan? Calculate how much money you spent daily on your addiction. After you come up with that number, multiply it by 30, and that’s approximately what you were spending in a month.

Think about taking that amount and saving it each month and see how it increases.

You will be amazed at how much money you save when you no longer a slave to a substance.

3. Your relationships mend

If you are like me, you hurt a lot of people while you were deep in your addiction. Once I got sober, I felt awful about the people I had hurt and made amends to many of them.

Now, when I look at my relationship with my family and friends, I see that most of them are strong.  I have rebuilt a of trust, and there is nothing better than feeling you are trusted by someone again.

4. Depression lessens

How to live sober and happy? The first step is to get sober and see how it affects your mental and emotional state.

What many people don’t realize is that alcohol and some drugs are depressants. Some people mistakenly think they suffer from depression when they are drinking and/or using, but whenever they stop, the depression goes away.

Depression lifting is a wonderful benefit of living sober.

5. Anxiety lessens

Just like depression, alcohol and drugs can worsen someone’s anxiety. Some people don’t understand this since we often use alcohol and drugs to deal with anxiety.

When the person begins to live sober, he or she will often notice that anxiety decreases and sometimes leaves completely. There are plenty of ways to deal with anxiety without picking up a drink or a drug.

Lessened depression and anxiety are wonderful benefits to sober living.

6. Your energy levels improve

When I got sober, I noticed I had a lot of restless energy. I had to be doing something all the time – cleaning, exercising, working. After a while, my energy levels evened out, and I could sit still and be OK with that.

Around week 2, your energy levels will increase.

People report more energy, and increasing productivity. Now, of course, we need to address what to do with all that newfound energy. Keep reading.

7. You sleep better

Think about your sleep patterns when you were drinking/using. Your sleep was probably restless and interrupted. Alcohol disrupts REM sleep, the deep sleep that we all need.

Sleep is one of the greatest gifts from sobriety. You will fall asleep naturally, stay asleep naturally, and wake up naturally – no chemical needed.

Hangovers are a thing of the past.

8. Your memory improves

Getting and staying sober means you will remember – everything. No more waking up the next morning and trying to piece together what happened the night before. No more missing deadlines, events, or appointments.

You will no longer live in a haze all day. You will actually live and remember things from day to day.

9. Your appearance will improve

Personal hygiene often goes out the window when someone is deep in an alcohol/drug addiction. Taking daily showers and brushing teeth is not on their radar.

Naturally, when you are sober, you take better care of yourself, and your appearance improves.  Your complexion clears, you may lose weight (or gain, if you need to).

And let’s face it, when you look good, you feel good about yourself! A double win.

10. You will have more time

Alcohol and drug addictions are time consuming. They take up every ounce of your energy while you figure out when you will get your next fix.

When you get sober, you will have that time back. I remember being amazed at all the spare time I had when I first got sober. At first, it was just weird. Then, I started filling my time with things I actually enjoy – helping others, hiking, writing.

Ask yourself, how do I want to fill my time? What are some hobbies I may want to try? What do I really enjoy doing?

11. You enjoy your life, for real

I remember thinking that there was no way I could ever enjoy life without a drink. How would I talk to people sober? How would I hang out with friends without alcohol? Impossible.

No, it’s not. It may take a while, but eventually you will start noticing things in your life – the blue skies, the green grass, the cool breeze. You will start to be present wherever you are. You will pay attention to yourself and others, and you will enjoy life.

There’s no feeling like it!

12. You get to know yourself

One of the sayings in 12 step meetings is “To Thine Own Self Be True.” (Shakespeare actually said this first, but that’s a different story called Hamlet).  It is even written on many of the sobriety chips that are given out to mark time.

This saying means a lot to me, because when I got sober, I realized I had no idea who I really was. I spent years hiding behind alcohol, trying to please others, and never once really looked inside myself to get to know myself.

One of the most gratifying benefits of being sober is that, with time, you will learn who you actually are and what you are meant to do on this earth.


10 Responses

  1. Darwin says:

    Data and even agreement on what constitutes recovery are sparse. If data had been kept it would clearly show that of all the people who walked through AA doors less than 8/10% are with AA a year later.

    I’m a Atheist who got sober in AA in spite of the spiritual/religious gobooly gook. Follow the science and the social connections. It works, it really does but not for most. Rarely in 40yrs have I seen people succeed in high percentages.

  2. Larry g says:

    Well said and very accurate my friend. Aa needs to rewrite and update the big book including the doctor’s opinion. That first 164 pages, as written, only in my opinion, in today’s world, actually harms as many as it helps. Oh well, I ain’t in charge!!

  3. Doc says:

    Alcoholism is definitely not an allergy. I have known people who are actually allergic to alcohol: as with other allergies, their bodies violently reject the substance. They cannot get drunk because when they attempt to drink alcohol, even in the smallest amount, they get violently sick. This is the nature of a real allergy. Addiction is a good way of explaining alcoholism.

  4. Lorri M. says:

    It’s very nice to read an article referring to alcoholism as an addiction to a substance and a substance abuse disorder. I have had several disagreements with other alcoholics who refuse to believe they were addicted to alcohol. They are completely allowed to continue their belief in their concept of an allergy over addiction even if it misses a significant point. I for one am grateful for my own understanding. I can see my disease play out in other areas of my life and use twelve step principles to combat its destructive effects. Allergy believers often do not and continue to suffer. Granted this is my opinion and perspective. Addiction is addiction no matter the substance. If it quacks, waddles, swims, and flies like a duck, it’s a damn duck.

  5. Jeffry P. says:

    It is interesting that he remarks about the ongoing need to police character defects. Evidently, humbly asking for their removal is not sufficient in and of itself to prod God into taking them away. Nice that he also laments AA’s miserable success rate.

  6. Roger says:

    Eight years ago, the General Service Office (GSO) kindly provided me with an MP3 of Bill’s 1965 General Assembly speech and I wrote an article about it: Responsibility Is Our Theme.

  7. Jeffry P. says:

    This sounds much like a self-actualization paradigm, which carries with it the “spiritual experience” of AA (really dogmatic adherence to the Christian God in the orthodox model). I am speaking at my home group tomorrow. I had mentioned during yesterday’s meeting that I was going to talk about the psychology of relapse, with the intention of simply conveying information. This follows my previous reprimand for attempting to discuss Maslow, who’s writings were silenced as “not conference approved literature”. I received two admonitions, privately, advising me that my proposed topic was out of bounds. So, in deference to these demands, I am going to read the last half of Bill W.’s 1965 General Assembly speech tomorrow in which he lavishes praise upon the Christian God, but simultaneously warns of the perils of dogmatism and specifically critiques AA’s inflexibility. I don’t have to say a thing; old Bill said it for me 55 years ago.

  8. Tracey C says:

    Love the comments. Regardless of the number, the benefits are real!

  9. Roger says:

    And there were only 11 a week ago…

  10. Wes says:

    There were 15 just a few days ago what happened?

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