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How to Achieve Emotional Sobriety

how to achieve emotional sobriety

Anyone who has experience with drug addiction or alcoholism knows that quitting is only one step in the recovery journey.

Sobriety is a lifelong commitment that requires continuous change. Some of these changes may be more difficult than others, such as letting go of friendships or relationships. The challenges of staying clean from drugs and alcohol can become overwhelming. There are plenty of recovering addicts who relapsed after years of sobriety. But why? One reason is a lack of emotional sobriety. While quitting addictive behaviors is crucial for staying sober, it’s not enough to live a happy and content life. Our addiction treatment center in Palm Springs is sharing tips on achieving emotional sobriety for long-term recovery.


What Is Emotional Sobriety?

Bill Wilson’s “emotional sobriety” letter to a close friend who struggled with depression was the first mention of the term. The same letter later appeared in Alcoholics Anonymous’s magazine, AA Grapevine, in January 1953. Eventually adopted by AA, the term has become one of the many lessons they teach and rely on when helping recovering addicts stay sober. Several emotional sobriety AA books have been written to guide recovering addicts in their journeys.

Emotional sobriety is the ability to cope with difficult feelings, emotions, or behaviors, including those previously covered by drug or alcohol abuse. Emotional sobriety is difficult for people in recovery to achieve. It involves confronting past trauma and other difficulties that contributed to their addictions. It also entails developing healthier habits and ways to manage them. Many addictions began with the intention of numbing emotional pain. People who have suffered trauma, mental illness, or other challenges have turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms. But once drugs and alcohol are out of the picture, the person must develop better ways to manage their emotional struggles if they want to maintain long-term sobriety.

Banyan Treatment Centers Palm Springs incorporates a variety of addiction therapy programs to help patients achieve emotional sobriety. Because so many clients have past struggles that perpetuated their disorders, we offer individual and group therapy sessions with licensed therapists to ensure they get the help they need for a successful recovery outside of rehab.


5 Simple Ways to Achieve Emotional Sobriety


Work on Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. Practicing mindfulness involves honing your skills of noticing, accepting, and tolerating what’s happening in the present without giving in to your impulse to “fix” things. Practicing mindfulness takes the place of using drugs or alcohol when faced with a difficult or uncomfortable situation. A big part of developing emotional sobriety is accepting things that cannot be changed, and mindfulness makes this possible.



If you’ve been sober for a while, then you may have received the advice to journal thousands of times, and for good reason. Drinking and doing drugs may have once been your exit strategy for dealing with difficult situations. Journaling requires you to be honest with yourself and encourages you to lay it all out on paper, which can be just as relieving as it is intimidating and strenuous. Even if you don’t want to write, you can keep notes on your phone or computer. The purpose is to sit down every day and write what you’re feeling and identify negative areas of your recovery that you want to work on.


Participate in Support Groups

Connecting with others who are also in recovery is a great way to develop emotional sobriety. You’d be surprised how much you learn from others who are sober and what you can teach them. Everyone’s experiences with addiction and sobriety are different. Combining all of these various points of view creates a sense of community and promotes peer support that’s there for you when you’re struggling. The responsibility of showing up to groups at a certain time and sober can also help keep you accountable and stay on track.


Talk About Your Feelings

So many people in addiction recovery are hesitant to talk about any emotional struggles they’re experiencing because they don’t want to seem weak, or maybe they feel ashamed. But how can you achieve emotional sobriety without confronting your emotions? If you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, talk to someone. Choose someone that you’re close with and that you trust to just sit down and vent to. You can also do this with a sponsor or recovery advocate you’re working with. Bottling things up won’t do you any good, and for many, attempting to ignore or cover up their emotions is what led them to substance abuse in the first place.


Stay Active

So many people dread the word “exercise,” but it is truly so good for you! Many people struggle with emotional sobriety because they are emotionally reliant on doing drugs or drinking. Many substances affect the brain by activating chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which produce a euphoric and pleasurable high. Now that these substances are out of the picture, you may be struggling with achieving a sense of pleasure that’s just as strong. Fortunately, exercise is one of the best ways to get high naturally because it releases endorphins, reduces stress, and increases your health. Additionally, it’s normal for people who are recovering from addiction to gain a few unwanted pounds. Exercising can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve heart health, which may have been previously compromised by drug use.


Learning how to achieve emotional sobriety can help you live the rest of your life sober. While addiction recovery can be a difficult journey, it’ll always be worth it. If you’re interested in addiction treatment in California for yourself or a loved one, call Banyan Palm Springs now at 888-280-4763.


Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.