Talk to any recovering person who has “put the plug in the jug” and you will immediately get a fairly long list of the benefits of being sober.
While there are some immediate benefits of being sober, there are also intermediate and long term benefits.
Since the benefits keep accruing over time, it is useful to look at them in that sense.
It is not unusual for someone attending their first AA meeting with as little as 24 hours sober to report that the immediate benefit is being with people who “drank like I did,” who “understand the issues,” and who have “apparently found a solution to a problem that has been a hard one for me.”
Hearing AA members share their stories and identifying with those stories is a relief that is almost impossible for a non-recovering person to understand. Then, there is the support from people who have been in recovery for awhile and the clear instructions on how they got as far as they have. On top of that, there is friendship. It is not unusual for people who just wandered in and are still feeling shaky to find themselves surrounded by people who encourage them and ease any loneliness. Most drinkers are lonely toward the end of their drinking careers, and the ready-made fellowship is a benefit that cannot be taken lightly. Many report feeling a sense of hope – for the first time in a very long time!
Somewhere around six to nine months after entering recovery, many sober people report thinking more clearly, sleeping better, the return of their taste buds, and the ability to see nature around them. Many people report being startled by bright clear colors of nature and the fresh smells they hadn’t noticed when they were drinking. Almost all people notice that they are saving money. Water or diet coke is a lot cheaper than expensive cocktails or kegs of beer. If the person did drugs, the savings could truly be great.
Recovering alcoholics/addicts begin to look better after a couple of months, as well. They begin to get more physically active so not only do their skin, hair and clear eyes look better, but their physical appearance also improves.
People in recovery have a lot of fun, and the best part is that they remember what they did the next day. Instead of sitting in a bar or being glued to the couch, many recovering people get very active with other recovering people, and the result is FUN.
New friends appear as people begin to meet and enjoy others at AA meetings, the gym or wherever their newfound interests and activities take them. They become more available to friends and family. Recovering people might even have to limit activities because there will be so many to choose from.
Recovering alcoholics report that the most satisfying part of their recovery is that they begin to have experience on how to get sober that they can share with people who are newly in recovery. There are few things as fulfilling as helping another human being and his/her family return to sober living. It is the lifeblood of recovery – one recovering alcoholic helping another.
“Peeling the onion” is an expression used in recovery. As time goes on, many recovering people find that they don’t do things so differently and that they use the same recovery tools, but as their recovery deepens, as their understanding and emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being increase, the benefits of being sober increase as well. They can meet challenges with grace and calm, and most report, “My worst day in sobriety is so much better than my best day drinking.”