Why is it really too difficult to stay sober?

Despite what you think you know about staying sober, the reality is that many people only have a vague idea of what it really takes. For some, talk of being sober is a bit of a joke, something to toss out in party chitchat, as in, “I’m going to get serious about sobering up.” Others think that staying sober is easy, that anybody can do it with no problem. They obviously don’t have a problem with alcohol. Anyone who is dependent on alcohol or has an alcohol addiction knows it’s not only not easy to quit drinking; to begin with, it’s even more difficult to keep away from alcohol. Let’s see what it takes to stay sober and if you need to find help from a professional recovery center.

Before you can stay sober, you have to first get sober. The process isn’t as simple as just putting down a drink and walking away. There are a lot of different factors that come into play. Each person’s circumstance is different. Each person carries a unique set of life experiences, expectations, upbringing, hereditary or biological factors, education, socio-economic background, and much more. How each person approaches getting sober depends greatly on what kind of drinker they are.

stay sober

If you’re among those who only drink socially and it’s been getting a little out of hand lately – but you haven’t had demonstrable problems in the past – you could, with some concerted effort, change your behavior so that you cut down and cut out drinking. You might just want to wean yourself off alcohol after the holidays, or you may have a longer-term goal of kicking alcohol for good. Buy a few books or download some tips from the Internet, maybe research “How to Quit Drinking” on the Web, and practice the recommendations. This might work. It has for many people.

But those who have been chronic drinkers, who reach for a drink as soon as they get home from work or have to stop off at the bar on a daily basis, who stash liquor around the house to hide it from family members who might cause a fuss – these individuals have a much harder time of getting sober. They’ve gone far past the social drinker stage to dependence on or even addiction to alcohol. They won’t be able to quit drinking by just doing some research and reading a few books or pamphlets. In fact, trying to quit drinking “cold turkey” could prove to be dangerous, even life-threatening.

To safely get sober, these individuals need medical supervision during the entire detoxification process. Detoxification, or detox, is the process during which alcohol (and other harmful substances such as illicit or street drugs, prescription drugs used nonmedically, and/or a combination of alcohol and drugs) leaves the body. Typical detox time can range from three to seven days, depending on the type of substance, length of time used, dosage, and other factors (including overall physical condition and presence of any other medical or mental health issues). In cases of alcoholism, detox may last up to two weeks.

Suffice to say that there are treatment facilities – both residential alcohol rehab centers and hospital inpatient or outpatient treatment settings – where you can go to get treatment for trying to quit drinking. Many, but not all, have detox facilities on site. The ones that don’t won’t accept a patient for an alcohol or other substance abuse problem until they have already undergone detox.

During detox from alcohol, the patient will experience withdrawal symptoms. These range from mild to moderate and include headaches, vomiting, tremors, perspiration, dizziness, insomnia, restlessness, and loss of appetite to severe reactions that include convulsions, hyperactivity, and delirium tremens. When someone abruptly stops drinking after being a chronic drinker, the resulting withdrawal symptoms, if not medically monitored, can prove fatal. The bottom line is that you can’t stay sober if you don’t get sober. Once you’re clean, you can begin the next phase of treatment, known as an active treatment, at a professional recovery center.