10 Lessons Addiction Sobriety Teaches Us

June 9, 2011 Kendra Sebelius

In sobriety, we learn many lessons and these lessons can be applied to all areas of life. These are ten of the lessons I have learned from addiction sobriety.

Addiction Sobriety: My Favorite Lessons

1. We Can Redeem Ourselves

I like the idea that we can redeem ourselves in this life. That at any moment we can make changes in how we are living, and choose going forward to live a new way. Our actions right now, in the present will not erase the past, but will help create a new life, full of healing, love, accountability, being present, and being authentic.

2. We Have Choices

We have choices. We can choose today to use or we can choose to stay sober. No matter how strong the cravings or urges, we have options. We can go to meetings, reach out for support, and utilize our healthy coping skills. Addiction also teaches us that life is precious. We can choose to learn and utilize a healthy coping skill versus use.

3. We Need to Be Mindful of Emotions and Feelings

The biggest and most rewarding lesson recovery and sobriety have taught me is how it is okay to feel our feelings. To understand our feelings will not break us, kill us, ruin us; they may be uncomfortable, but we need to embrace and learn how to name and feel our feelings.

4. Mistakes are Part of the Journey

Whether this means a slip, a relapse, or a fight with our loved ones, it is absolutely normal to make mistakes. What matters, is that we learn from our mistakes and our struggles, and be willing to try new ways and never give up. Recovery and sobriety isn’t easy, it takes work, time, effort, and being open to falling down and standing back up. Life is a journey, not a destination.

5. Reaching Out for Help is a Strength Not a Weakness

Being able to say “I need help” is a huge sign of strength. Our addictions love to live in the dark corners, and stay hidden. Silence is dangerous for those in sobriety. Being able to reach out, ask for help, is the way to not let the struggles have free rent in our heads.

6. Relationships May Be a Challenge

Sobriety is a challenge, because often we are learning who we are, and having to relearn how to live. If we are in a relationship, the dynamics very well may change, and if we start a relationship, we are often focusing outward instead of on our own recovery. It takes a lot of learning in establishing boundaries, creating opening lines of communication, and emotional regulation in fights.

7. Addiction Can Be A Gift

I know this sounds crazy at first. Addiction is awful, it kills people, it ruins families, but it can also be a gift. If I had not gone through my struggles, and gone through recovery and sobriety I may not have been as empowered to constantly re-adjust and re-align the life I want to live. I feel I am in the driving seat of my life, capable of making decisions, facing my life versus running away from problems.

8. Giving to Others Gives to Ourselves

When I had over a year of sobriety and recovery, I decided to start giving back to communities that needed support. I felt there needed to be more voices in recovery, sharing their stories, their voices, to help not only reduce stigma but to give hope to others that recovery is not only possible, but happening to many others in the world.

I know for me, helping others has helped keep me sober and in recovery. It provides a sense of community, sharing of struggles, and helps me be mindful of the life I live, and the road I am traveling.

9. Healing Takes Time

Sobriety is just the first step in a healing relationship with yourself and others after a history of addiction(s). A lot of the work is done after we enter recovery, and after we get sober. We have to take time, and that is done by seeking professional support, learning new healthy coping skills, incorporating a new way of living, joining support groups, and many other paths.

10. One Day at a Time

Life can often be overwhelming, but if we focus just on today, and what we need to do, it helps keep life manageable. We only live in the present, and doing our best in the present is enough. An entire life of sobriety can be overwhelming, but saying “just for today” makes it not only possible but doable.

What lessons have you learned in sobriety?

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APA Reference
Sebelius, K. (2011, June 9). 10 Lessons Addiction Sobriety Teaches Us, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 21 from

Author: Kendra Sebelius

April, 15 2016 at 11:31 am

Hi there. I was really struggling at first. I thought my feelings and emotions were abnormal. Its funny that my drugs clinic doesn't go into the details like you do. My councillor is great, but they just don't break down the difficulties in recovery like you have. So after reading this I now feel normal again, normal knowing that for a while my emotions will be challenging and there is a light and a goal to reach for. I'm now on 26ml of methadone from 90ml and before that a life of heroin addiction for over 10 years. I'm now facing my problems and have become to accept my emotions and feelings as just that, a feeling, safe in the knowledge that this doesn't have to rule my actions and life. I'm learning to embrace these feelings and actually its a lot less painful now. Getting better and learning more about myself as each day passes. A massive thank you for this article. I wish you every success and you seem like a lovely person with a good heart and soul. Hers to everyone in recovery.

Dr Musli Ferati
June, 11 2011 at 8:06 pm

Brilliant working-out Ms. Sebelius! Your 10 recommended lessons unlock many real and hopeful perspective for ruinous life of person with addictive disorder. Also, they are welcome for every mental healthy person. This time I would to concentrate at two yours suggestions: that with number 5 and the last one, with number 10. For the first one I may say that in ordinary life people think that to seek for help present oneself inability and weakness as well. Therefore they intentionally avoid making the same useful performance, that improve the life of every person in its mysterious "Journey". This contradiction should to amend our hesitancy to look for support to others. As for tenth item I can say that generally we are the victim of our past bad experiences that inhibit as well as limited our creative potentials. It shouldn't overrun itself into shackles of irrecoverable mistakes. The same ought to serve as utilitarian guide for our future activity.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kendra Sebelius
June, 12 2011 at 7:04 pm

Thank you Dr. Ferati for you wonderful comment. I think reminding ourselves we are always on a journey, whether in recovery or in life, it is about progress, learning, growth. Even if we are healthy, to cultivate who we are, and embrace this life fully, we need to be open to the journey!

June, 9 2011 at 5:11 pm

Be sure to get a full psychiatric assessment to make sure your not self-medicating. If you are suffering from disorders this will give you the best chance for success!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kendra Sebelius
June, 9 2011 at 5:53 pm

Thank you - that is a great comment. I know I was self medicating especially with my anxiety and panic disorder. Professional assessment is truly important to get at the best treatment for people in sobriety.

Grace M. Druzba
June, 9 2011 at 5:52 am

As a person who chain-smoked for over 16 years (I quit 4/1/2011), and a person diagnosed, however true, with schizophrenia, I can HIGHLY relate to all 10 concepts you listed. Among them Addiction Is a Gift, I agree with because people who experience both physical and/or psychological dependence on drugs, have greater insight than one who has never fell into the using hell. Thanks for this. I am stable on Abilify, and although I have my moods, cigarette smoking will be forever a thing of the past for me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kendra Sebelius
June, 9 2011 at 6:14 am

Thank you Grace for sharing your story! And I am so glad you could relate to all of the top lessons! I know we hear a lot "I am grateful for my struggle" and it is a hard concept until we are on the other side :) Thank you!

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