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  • Writer's pictureIrving Najman, LMFT, CSAT

The difference between Abstinence vs. Sobriety

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

When we first come into a 12-step program of recovery, it is essential that we first abstain from all destructive and compulsive behaviors to give our brains time to adapt to new behaviors and repair itself, basically what I call "getting out of the fog" and start feeling less depressed and begin to address our addiction. As we continue to attend meetings, changing behaviors & our mindsets, and working the steps, we begin to realize that abstinence is not sufficient. Dr. Patrick Carnes, the expert leader on sex addiction, often says that everyone is able "to quit," the challenge for us in recovery is "to stay quit." Sobriety is when we begin to experience permanent & transformational changes, physically, emotionally and spiritually. And, we start implementing those changes in every aspect of our lives. In other words, applying the principles of the program. So, how do we do that? Through personal experience in my own recovery, I've learned that to stay quit, one must devise a spiritual practice and implement it on a daily basis. Next time that you're at a meeting, listen and notice how often in our literature we mention that "it's a spiritual program" not a program of abstinence.

If you want to achieve serenity and grow in your recovery, please contact me. Let's work together to improve your overall emotional and physical health. Let me help you strengthen your recovery and maintain your sobriety. Together, we can reach a new level of freedom, stability and serenity in your life.

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