Does it seem to you that giving up drugs and alcohol means that you will never feel upbeat or euphoric again? Getting sober is the first step in a journey of learning to live life without relying on mind-altering chemicals, but there are a lot more lessons to learn once you are able to stop using alcohol and other drugs. While you may experience a lot of extreme emotions in early sobriety, feeling joy while you are sober is probably not as hard as you think
There are many positive aspects of life that you may not have noticed or really appreciated because you have been busy trying to run away from reality. There are a lot of reasons to feel happy and plenty of simple experiences each day that are worth savoring. Just being able to live in reality and be totally aware of the things and people around you is a great reason to feel joyful. No more hangovers or blackouts. No more wondering what you did last night or who you did it with. When you are sober, you can actually choose whom you want to associate with.
Learning About Real Friendship
It’s finally possible to experience actual friendship. In fact, one of the most joyful aspects of life in sobriety is finding a real connection with other human beings. One of the unfortunate parts of addiction is that forming any kind of real relationship with other people is difficult if not impossible. When you are abusing alcohol or drugs, most of your interactions with other people are very unhealthy. You probably only associated with your drinking buddies or drug connections. Too often all that you had in common is you were both equally drawn to the experience of getting drunk or high.
If you were not bonding with other people through alcohol or drug use, you may have been isolating instead. For many people, isolation is pretty common during active addiction. You lost the ability to relate to other people at all, and you may have had less and less interest in trying to be around others.
Whether you had unhealthy friendships or no friendships at all in your addicted days, you may find that in sobriety you have to form completely new relationships. It’s probably not safe to hang around the same people you used to hang around with, and it may be dangerous to your recovery for you to spend too much time by yourself.
The Fellowship Aspect of Recovery
In recovery circles, you find that there are others who truly understand your struggles and the types of experiences that you have had. You find that you are not alone, that you are part of a fellowship of men and women who don’t judge you for the things you have done, people who want to make healthier choices and live a better life and people who understand what you are working toward.
In recovery support groups, while you might not like everyone present, there is a good chance that you will find at least a few people you can relate to and that you may start to build friendships with. Gradually you will be able to get to know a few people that you trust, people you can turn to when you feel uncomfortable. These are people who might offer you feedback and advice. In sober groups, there is both give and take. People are on the same level and no one is better than anyone else. As time goes on, being able to feel close to other people can bring you a sense of joy and happiness.
Why Friendship Brings Joy
Forming sober friendships can bring you a sort of natural high. Social networks stimulate chemicals in the brain called endorphins, which trigger positive emotions. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and these chemicals trigger feelings of pleasure. For this reason, you may find that being around others in recovery, or friends and family outside recovery circles that are important to you, makes you feel pretty good.
Making new friends can bring you a great deal of joy in sobriety. It’s the quality, not the quantity of friends that can really lift your mood and make you feel glad to be alive. Having social support is a big part of facing life in a healthy way. With others in your corner, you don’t have to face challenging times alone. You have people you can turn to for support or advice, people that you can share both good and bad experiences with.
Being around others in support groups or being around one or two good friends can bring you comfort and joy. You no longer have to turn to mind-altering chemicals when life feels overwhelming or painful. You can turn to your friends instead.