what is emotional sobriety

What is Emotional Sobriety?

When people think about the idea of sobriety or recovery, they often think of abstinence, or the absence of drugs and alcohol in one’s life. While abstaining from drugs and alcohol is at the heart of sobriety, recovery is about more than just stopping the use of drugs and alcohol.

In order to stay sober, most people have to change their thoughts, behaviors, interests, and more. They have to treat the root cause of their addiction and make positive changes in their lives.

While physical sobriety refers to a state of being physically free from drugs and alcohol, emotional sobriety is a term that goes beyond the conventional understanding of sobriety, extending it to encompass your emotional well-being and inner healing. Traditionally associated with 12-Step programs, emotional sobriety can be beneficial for anyone seeking a more fulfilling and balanced life after addiction.

What is Emotional Sobriety?

The term “emotional sobriety” was coined by 12-Step fellowships but is often discussed among the treatment industry and people in recovery. Emotional sobriety refers to a state of emotional balance and maturity that allows individuals to navigate their feelings in a healthy and constructive manner. It is about finding serenity within oneself, regardless of external circumstances.

Unlike the abstinence-focused approach of conventional sobriety, emotional sobriety involves cultivating self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and a strong sense of self. If someone is emotionally sober, they are regulating their emotions in healthy ways, fostering positive relationships, and engaging in an honest, humble lifestyle.

Many people believe that you must maintain emotional sobriety to maintain physical sobriety. If you experience an emotional relapse, which occurs if your emotions get out of control and you’re unable to cope, you are at an increased risk of a physical relapse.

How Do You Achieve Emotional Sobriety?

One of the most widely accepted ways to achieve emotional sobriety is to work through the 12-Steps with a sponsor. The 12-Steps are meant to help you repair past mistakes, make healthy choices, and help others get sober. However, not everyone likes the 12-Step approach to recovery, and working the 12-Steps isn’t the only way to achieve emotional sobriety.

In rehab centers and sober living homes, individuals have the opportunity to develop the skills they need to maintain emotional sobriety. Various practices can help develop and reinforce these skills, including:

Behavioral Therapy and Counseling

Emotional sobriety begins with self-awareness and healthy coping skills, both of which can be developed through behavioral therapy and counseling sessions. Therapy and counseling are at the core of any addiction treatment program, and many different approaches may be used. One of the most common approaches is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT helps individuals identify negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and transform those negative things into something more positive. It involves identifying the reasons behind emotions, how you’ve coped with them in the past, and what you can do differently. CBT is a great way to learn positive coping skills and gain a deeper understanding of oneself.

Other therapies that may help promote emotional sobriety are dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). All of these therapies may be facilitated in group or individual therapy sessions.


Another important aspect of emotional sobriety is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of one’s self–emotions, physical sensations, thoughts, surroundings, and more. It involves accepting emotions–both positive and negative ones–without judgment. When you are mindful, you are able to work through difficult emotions and situations without reacting negatively or getting overwhelmed.

Mindfulness can help prevent relapse and promote emotional resilience. Building emotional resilience is another crucial aspect of emotional sobriety. It involves developing the ability to bounce back from adversity, cope with stress, and maintain a positive outlook.

Peer Support

Peer support is an essential component of sobriety. Participating in peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or SMART Recovery can promote feelings of connectedness and provide valuable peer support. At the same time, watching others recover can promote a sense of hope and increase motivation.

Honesty and Vulnerability

Finally, you can’t achieve emotional sobriety without honesty, transparency, and vulnerability. Emotional sobriety encourages individuals to live authentically and embrace vulnerability. By expressing yourself honestly and opening up to others, you can foster genuine connections and create a supportive network that promotes emotional well-being. But if you are hiding behind lies or dishonesty, you are engaging in the same behaviors you likely did in your addiction, which can lead you back to relapse.

The Benefits of Emotional Sobriety

Emotional sobriety offers numerous advantages that extend beyond being able to stay physically sober, for example:

  • Improved relationships
  • Better mental health
  • Increased happiness and satisfaction with life
  • More personal growth
  • Increased resilience
  • Better sleep
  • Less stress and anxiety
  • Reduced risk for relapse

Find Help Today

New You Sober Living is a top-rated transitional living residence for men and women to recover safely that offers co-ed and men’s Oakland Park, FL sober living homes.

If you are looking for a comfortable sober living setting, you’re in the right place. We make living in a halfway house successful by gently incorporating a set of rules, supervised structure, and the sober support needed to sustain your sobriety for the long-term.

Reinvent yourself and be the new you that we know you can be. Recovery is a beautiful gift that we have dedicated our lives to help you achieve. Get started today by calling and speaking with one of our dedicated team members.

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