Recovering Addict’s Sobriety Stories

Recovering Addicts Share How the World is Different Since Getting Sober

by Michelle Peterson

My friend Jeff recently shared an important piece of wisdom about graduating from addiction treatment: “Life has not been what I expected it to be when I got out — in a very beautiful way.”

It’s true. When I was using, I couldn’t imagine ever being able to live a sober life. No drugs? Ever? It seemed impossible. And even if I did somehow manage to stop using, what was the point? Would all that hard work — detox, therapy, sobriety programs, meetings — even be worth a life without drugs?

In a word: Yes. The hard work I did then — and continue to do now — has been completely worth it. And I’ve borrowed the insight of a few fellow recovering addicts to share just how wonderfully different the world is after finding sobriety.

You trade chaos for peace

When you’re neck-deep in your addiction, chaos is what you live for. It’s what makes you feel alive. You seek it out wherever you can, and when you find it, you waste no time in grabbing onto it. But when you’re sober, you realize chaos isn’t your friend.

“Chaos is now a challenge for me,” Sally explained. “I almost thrived on it while I was using. Now when things get chaotic, I have to step back and take a moment to process what’s happening rather than jump right in and try to solve it.”

The best part is, you realize you don’t even miss the chaos. Suddenly, your vision is clear, and your life falls into perspective.

“Not using isn’t really a challenge to me now, because I’ve found other healthy things to be focused on. If you’re not scared or hiding, you can enjoy the simple things in life,” said Sally. “How I’m going to react to a situation based on what I’ve learned during treatment is really neat to me. I think about how I would have handled a given situation in the past and how I do now, and it’s completely different.”

You don’t have to let your emotions get the better of you

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy or DBT, has become a truly important part of rehabilitation for many. DBT helps you develop coping skills to use in difficult situations — the situations when, in your past life, you would have turned to your favorite substance to help you cope.

Scott told me that in the past, it was often his anger that started trouble.

“I’m an Italian hothead and can lose my temper really quickly,” he admitted. “It didn’t take much to get in my head and make me explode, feel resentful, or feel all those other things that would make me drink. DBT changed all of that.”

He said DBT has taught him how to take a moment to reevaluate a situation before reacting to it. It’s also helped him understand the gravity of his choices, and how important it is to stop and consider the consequences of a single action.

“One thing I learned that I hear all the time in meetings is to ‘play the tape out’: if I pick up this first drink, what’s going to happen? I’m going to drink it, I’m going to get drunk, and I could end up in jail — or worse.”

You can always help others, no matter what you’re going through

As addicts, we’re constantly being reminded that we have much to learn. And that’s OK — everybody does. What many addicts don’t seem to realize, though, is that they actually have a lot to offer others who are struggling.

Zach said that before he entered recovery, helping others didn’t really cross his mind.

“From the time I started drinking and partying and going into my addiction, it was all about me,” he recalled. “I didn’t care about anybody else. I always thought, ‘What am I going to get out of this?’ I never thought about helping other people.”

But during his time in rehabilitation, Zach loved the feeling of helping others work through their struggles by being someone who truly understood their battle. Since graduating from Addiction Campuses Texas facility, the Treehouse, he’s taken a major step in his life to help people: he’s studying to become a substance abuse counselor.

“I want to go on and get my education so I can help others the way people at the Treehouse helped me. I want to give back to those people,” he said.

In addition to his education, he’s also actively working to help others work through their addiction issues through the support group A Better Life: Brianna’s Hope

The world is truly a more enjoyable place

Staying sober isn’t easy every single minute of every single day. In fact, there are times for me when it still feels impossible. But the reward of seeing a whole new world as someone who isn’t dependent on drugs or alcohol makes all the hard work well worth it. I’m grateful every day for my second chance at life and my new perspective of the world.

Perhaps Sally said it best: “You’re just going to enjoy life so much more. There’s so much that you miss out on when you’re addicted to a substance.”


Michelle Peterson is a proud recovering addict. She is fighting to eliminate the stigma against those who suffer from or have suffered from substance abuse and addiction. She created to spread messages of hope and help to those in recovery, those wishing to be in recovery, and their loved ones. When she isn’t building the site, she enjoys running and crafting.