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Getting Sober is Harder than Staying Sober

Most people encounter cravings and temptations at some point in recovery. These can sometimes be intense. On top of that, your own mind can betray you and start inventing rationalizations that could only make sense in the grip of a craving. These tend to be arguments along the lines of “Just once won’t hurt,” or “I only want it because I can’t have it; if I just use again, then I won’t want it.” Or even, “I’ve forgotten about the bad parts of addiction; maybe using again will remind me why I’m staying sober.” The logic is shocking but it makes sense at the time. One way to combat these kinds of thoughts is to remember it’s much easier to stay sober that it is to get sober.

We have a curious ability to forget past suffering and only remember the good stuff. It helps us persist in seeking goals. If we only remembered the pain of doing something and not the payoff, we wouldn’t do very much. In addiction, that tendency works against us because the many reasons we had for getting sober eventually fade, allowing the few good memories to shine.

Not only does that mean addiction was worse than you remember, but also detox was worse than you remember. Detox is so bad that people resume using a drug they know is messing up their lives rather than endure another minute of withdrawal. If you ask someone what, say, opioid detox is like, he’ll tell you it’s like the worst flu imaginable, but when a bad craving hits, he conveniently forgets about this. The real question is, all else being equal, would you rather endure cravings, or withdrawal?

Furthermore, any plan you have to use “just this once” is going right out the window as soon as you relapse. When you’re sober and having a craving, your logic is, “Just once won’t hurt,” but then after using once, your logic is, “Well, I’ve already relapsed; might as well go all out.” Then, before you know it, you’re back where you started. Only this time, it’s harder to quit because you’re beating yourself up over relapsing.

Finally, there’s no way to get back the time you put into sobriety. As they say in AA, time takes time. So much of recovery is just building a streak, one day at a time. The more time you have in recovery, the less likely you are to relapse. Whenever you think you’d like just a little break from sobriety, remember that you not only have to detox again, but you have start the clock over too.

Whenever cravings kick in, take some time to reflect on how far you’ve come and how much effort you’ve put into sobriety. Compared to that, a temporary craving is not such a big deal. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.