When I got sober 6 years ago, everything I thought about recovery was wrong.
My view on recovery was one big misconception. First of all, I never understood the word “recovery.” All I knew was the word “sober,” and I thought this word was only reserved for folks who were alcoholics and needed to go to rehab or AA.
At the time, my view of AA and rehab was that it was shameful and meant you were the worst of the worst. To me, it meant you lost everything, couldn’t go a day without drinking, and couldn’t figure out how to break free of addiction without intense inpatient help.
As I began my recovery journey, I slowly realized just how wrong I was and how rampant these damaging misconceptions were. For one, these misconceptions prevented me from getting sober sooner. If I had known that I didn’t need to identify as an alcoholic or that I didn’t need to drink every day, or that needing rehab didn’t make me a failure or a bad person, I might have tried sobriety much sooner than I did.
These misconceptions prevented me from getting sober sooner.
The truth is there are numerous misconceptions out there about recovery and the ones I experienced are only a few. These misconceptions can keep people from making a positive change in their lives, keep people from reaping the benefits of sobriety, and reinforce harmful stereotypes about addiction and recovery.
That AA and the 12 steps are required for sobriety.
When we asked The Temper’s Instagram audience what their biggest misconceptions about recovery were, unsurprisingly one we heard several times was AA and the 12 steps are required for sobriety.
Similar to what I believed, many of our readers thought that sobriety and AA were synonymous. One of our readers even said their therapist told them AA was necessary if they ever wanted to reach long-term sobriety. Another said they thought the 12 steps had to be completed in order to reach sobriety, but through being in recovery they’ve learned it’s not one-size-fits-all.
This is, of course, not at all true. There are plenty of people who do get sober through AA and plenty more who successfully get sober through alternatives to AA. Many people had the belief that recovery was just one thing but reality showed them that recovery is actually a spectrum of experiences that you can define for yourself.
That recovery is only for “alcoholics” and you must hit rock-bottom first.
Going hand-in-hand with AA, we also heard that many people had the misconception that recovery was only for “alcoholics,” and these people must hit rock bottom before entering recovery.
Just as I thought before getting sober, many people believe sobriety is something reserved for alcoholics and, on the flip side, that anyone who is sober is an alcoholic. This isn’t necessarily true; in fact, many people today are ditching the label “alcoholic” because it doesn’t fit them or their recovery journey.
You shouldn’t have to wait until your life has completely fallen apart before getting help; help is always there no matter where you are in your sobriety path.
Hitting rock bottom is another obscure concept that has been talked about a lot more recently as something not needed in order to get sober. In fact, this stigmatized belief can actually prevent people from asking for help and finding a recovery path that works for them for fear that their substance misuse isn’t severe enough. You shouldn’t have to wait until your life has completely fallen apart before getting help; help is always there no matter where you are in your sobriety path.
That sobriety was just about giving up the behavior of drinking.
Not only were the biggest misconceptions we received about the primary act of getting sober, they were also about what life looks like after you stop drinking.
Several folks said they thought sobriety was just about giving up the behavior of drinking but came to find out that it is actually so much more. Our audience has learned that recovery requires healing, inner work, and is not normally about the booze itself, but about everything else you’re doing in life and how you do it.
Contrary to their previous thoughts, no one has died from feeling their emotions — no matter how uncomfortable. Learning to sit in this discomfort after numbing out for so many years is part of recovery
That your social life would cease to exist and life would be boring and sad forever.
Along with how much life changes after we quit drinking come the misconceptions about how we will interact with the world when we do. Unsurprisingly, our followers expressed that they thought their lives would be boring without alcohol, that they would be sad and struggling forever, and that their social lives would be no fun or non-existent.
People actually have more fun in recovery and (gasp) actually remember it!
These beliefs all turned out to be false. You CAN have more fun in sobriety. In fact, people have expressed that their lives are far from boring. They actually have more fun in recovery and (gasp) actually remember it! They have been able to attend family events and go through big life celebrations and enjoy it all without alcohol.
They also told us they were able to keep their social life and not abandon all old friendships.
That you’ll struggle with not drinking and continue to have the desire to drink.
Struggling with not drinking and continuing to desire to drink was another big one mentioned.
But this is false, too. For us at The Temper, sobriety and recovery is about filling up your life with all of the wonderful things that will mean you no longer need a numbing drug to get through life. Instead, we believe in living life to the fullest.
Although this is a common misconception, many of us get to a place of satisfaction with their lives in sobriety — meaning alcohol becomes small and doesn’t occupy all of their mental energy, like it may have been when they were actively using it.
The common thread we see through all of these misconceptions is the fear people anticipate before they give sobriety a shot.
Even though they may be in pain from their drinking, even though they might have experienced negative consequences, and even though they may feel deep down in their hearts the desire to change, these common fallacies could still prevent someone from giving recovery a chance.
But don’t let that stop you from making the decision that might just save your life. After you’ve let go of some of these misconceptions about recovery, you might want to check out some of our tips on quitting alcohol if you’re still afraid to try — as well as our best tools in recovery. And don’t forget that you heard it here first, and from the mouths of countless people who are enjoying their alcohol-free lives, in and outside of AA, with and without rock bottoms — all your fears about sobriety are wrong.
What could be waiting for you on the other side? A more fun, carefree, connected, and fulfilling existence. What do you have to lose?