Life is full of challenges – no matter where you were born or where you’re headed, there will always be highs and lows that add up to the person you are today. For many, this rollercoaster can lead to some form of addiction, whether that be addiction to drugs, alcohol, or one of the many other dangerous addictions we see in our world today. The road to recovery can be long and challenging, especially without the right support systems put in place. Thankfully, there are hundreds of organizations in the United States (such as SAMHSA) designed to help those struggling with addiction.
One of the most important things shared in many treatment programs is the constant reminder of why you are working toward becoming (and staying) sober. Without any reason to get clean and sober, it can be nearly impossible to begin your sober journey. Here, we have compiled the top 10 reasons for getting clean and sober – if you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, we hope this helps giving you the power you need to start your sober journey.
1. Family Relationships (being present)
The power of addiction is so strong, it usually steers an individual away from the things and people they care about the most. In many cases, that means their family. Mania, depression, and other negative side effects of addictive substances isolate the user so that they may begin to act in ways that are completely out of character. According to leading scientists in the addiction field, drug use typically leads to irrational behavior, which can both put family members in danger and cause them to feel incredibly distant from someone they thought they knew.
By taking the first step toward changing your relationship with a substance, you can show your family members how much you value them – the fact that they matter to you more than your addiction does. Whether it’s a child, a spouse, a parent, or another family member, addiction affects everyone. Getting sober will help an addict turn their attention back towards things they care about.
Our second reason on the list is one of the most important: cost. To get an idea of what the cost is to maintain an addiction, see the figures below. According to an article by Vice, where they asked addicts in Canada what they spent on their addiction, the cost of their addictions were astronomical:
- Cocaine Addiction Cost: Between $450 to $1,200 per day
- Prescription Drug Addiction Cost: Average $2,250 per month
- Alcohol Addiction Cost: $50 per day
- Heroin Addiction Cost: $375 per day
- Crack Addiction Cost: $225 per day
If an addict is able to stop drinking or using, the financial savings are tremendous. One way to factor in the cost is to break down the cost of an addiction by day, week, month, and year. By calculating the actual number of dollars thrown away on the addiction, the money becomes more tangible, more real. Once those numbers have been calculated, think about what an addict can do with that money. Over time, the savings could add up to a house, a car, or a vacation to a place you’ve always wanted to visit.
3. Physical Health
Obviously, beyond the emotional and financial relief that comes with ending an addiction, the physical benefits are substantial. Addictions like drinking and drugs destroy your body over time – those health classes in high school knew what they were talking about. According to SAMHSA, “Excessive alcohol use can increase a person’s risk of stroke, liver cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, cancer, and other serious health conditions.” The only way to avoid these health problems is by avoiding the source of the problems. While it may seem too late to change, now is a better time to quit than ever. The sooner you start kicking the addiction and receiving treatment, the sooner your body can start recovering.
4. Mental Health (coping mechanism)
Where does addiction come from? How does it start? What empty hole in your life does the addiction seem to fill? These are questions that are worked through during therapy and addiction counseling. For some, the quitting of the actual activity may be relatively simple, but sticking with the solution can be impossible. In order to stay mentally healthy long term, it is important to find the root cause of addiction and find something healthier that can replace it. Hard work and motivation will lead to a healthier mind that can better serve you.
5. Time – finding new hobbies / activities
How many hours do you spend on your addiction every day? Every week? When that dependence no longer exists, you will have so much more time to focus on the things that positively impact your life. Spending time with family, picking up a fun sport, learning a new trade and traveling the world will be much more accessible when your time is no longer caught up in feeding your addiction. Again, this comes back to re-evaluating your priorities. Addiction tends to center all of our attention around one thing – getting our next high, our next experience with the substance, often just to feel normal. When you have done the work and stuck with a recovery plan, you will find a lot more free time to do things you’ve always wanted to do.
6. Job, career goals, focus
No matter how well an addict thinks they are hiding their habit, there is always someone who notices you drifting off at your desk hung over, the smell on your jacket as you walk past their cubicle, or the number of times you’ve been late this week. Having an addiction can really set a person back in their pursuit of a promotion, an interview, or a big corporate deal. One of the biggest things that can derail a future dream is being arrested or charged for criminal actions. Keep pushing forward in your career and with your co-workers, as well as your life on a whole, by kicking your addiction and staying sober.
We mentioned the importance of family as our #1 on the list in this article, but we also want to consider the impact that staying sober will have on your friends. If your addiction has also come with a particular group who suffers from the same addiction, this may be a good time to shift toward a group who reflects more of who you want to become throughout your recovery experience. Be intentional with your time and who you spend that time with. Consider how you feel after being with particular people, then evaluate if they are helping you get to the next stage of your recovery journey or holding you back from staying sober. Influencing your friends is a great reason to stay sober because of the impact you can have on them, as well as the better in-depth conversations and interactions you can have when you’re not under the influence.
Alcohol and drugs are dangerous. We know this isn’t news to anyone, but it’s important to consider when talking about reasons for staying sober. We’re not just talking about your safety, but also the safety of anyone around you. The CDC reports that every day, an average of 29 people die in motor vehicle accidents related to driving under the influence. Those are mothers, children, fathers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents. They are all people who could have lived if a driver hadn’t succumbed to that potential addiction and gotten behind the wheel. In order to keep yourself and those around you (even strangers) safe, staying sober is key.
9. Boost self-esteem and confidence
When someone with an addiction looks in the mirror, it may be difficult to see much more than the substance, much more than the pressure of the addiction closing in. Once the eyes begin to clear on the road to recovery, the face in the mirror looking back brightens. Relinquishing bad habits and staying clean offers so many more possibilities which all feel much more possible when the weight of addiction is not holding you back.
10. Inspiration for others after
Something that is incredibly beautiful about programs like AA is the idea of legacy, that what you have been through can help to support and encourage someone else who may be a step or two behind you in their journey. When you do the incredibly challenging work of overcoming an addiction and staying sober, your reward is not only for you – it is also for those watching you, wondering if they too could make their sober journey. When you gain sobriety, you prove that it is possible.
Recovery is not easy. Staying sober is not easy. However, we hope that as you or someone you love embarks on the journey to beat addiction, they can keep these 10 reasons to stay sober in mind. Sobriety is possible for anyone, that is proven everyday. Begin your journey today.