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When Will Sobriety Feel Better than Addiction?

Addiction is one of those situations that get worse before they get better. Even if an addiction has become painful, it may still offer comfort, a refuge when things are bad. In recovery, that refuge is unavailable. Before that, you have to detox, which is never pleasant. Then, there’s the hard work of treatment–counselling, group therapy, and creating a healthy routine. After all that, many people experience post-acute-withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, which is typically described as either an emotional rollercoaster or prolonged emotional numbness. It’s fair to ask when sobriety starts to feel worth the effort.

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer because everyone is different. Almost no one feels better right away. Even the smoothest medically managed detox typically involves some withdrawal–headaches, irritability, insomnia, nausea. After the worst of it is over, it may take a few weeks for the lingering symptoms to mostly disappear. Some people start to feel better at this point, like they definitely made the right decision. Other people take much longer. It may take years, if they can hold out that long.

There are many factors that can make a difference in how long it takes to feel good in recovery. The biggest factors are what drugs you used, how heavily, and for how long. Opioids and benzodiazepines seem to have the most tenacious effects. They may require a long taper and PAWS and cravings may still persist for a long time. It’s hard to feel good about recovery when you’re in a persistent state of numbness or you keep getting strong cravings. PAWS typically lasts anywhere from a few months to several years.

It also depends on what you bring into the addiction. If you’ve experienced a lot of emotional trauma, sobriety means you have to deal with it, which is painful. It will get better with time and therapy, but in the meantime you don’t have the instant relief of drugs or alcohol. On the other hand, if you became addicted to opioids after surgery, you still have to deal with cravings, but you may not have to deal with intrusive memories or feelings of shame. In the absence of strong emotional pain, you might notice improvements pretty quickly. Your thinking will be clearer, your relationships will improve, and you’ll have more money in your pocket.

Recovery is different for everyone. Some people will feel better soon after quitting, but that’s no guarantee of a stable recovery. Recovery takes daily work and a long-term commitment, but you will feel better eventually if you keep at it. Not only will you feel better than you did during active addiction, you will feel better than you did before.

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.