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What to Expect In Early Sobriety

When a person experiences a drug abuse problem, their drug abuse is so ingrained in their everyday life and activities that it can be difficult for them to imagine a time when they are not abusing drugs. With so many uncertainties, it can be difficult to get the motivation to pursue their sobriety. However, there are so many things to look forward to in the first year of sobriety and beyond. Here’s our guide to what to expect in early sobriety.

3 Minute Read | Published Oct 02 2023 | Updated Mar 07 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by

Get ready and familiarize yourself with what to expect in early sobriety

The First Few Days of Sobriety

During the first few days of sobriety, a person can expect to experience withdrawal effects. Because the body has been dependent on drugs and/or alcohol for some time, they will have symptoms when their body no longer has the drug present in their system. The symptoms of withdrawal from drug abuse can range from mild to severe. The symptoms also depend upon the drug type abused as well as how long the person has abused the drug.

Ideally, a person will go through the first few days of sobriety at an inpatient treatment facility where they can receive medical detox services. These services involve having a person take medications that are designed to reduce drug cravings as well as reduce symptoms associated with detox. These include nausea, tremors, and difficulty sleeping. Examples of drug cravings that can be reduced with medications include tobacco and opiates, such as heroin and painkillers.

While these symptoms may be unpleasant, they are often short-term. Usually, withdrawal symptoms will peak at days three to five after a person stops abusing drugs. After that time, a person’s symptoms will start to subside. This is the time to celebrate recovery and commit to the next part of the process, which can include continuing on to an inpatient program, sober living facility, or outpatient treatment programs.

First Months of Sobriety

Moving on from the first days of what to expect in early sobriety is the first few months after a person is sober. During this time, a person is starting to acclimate to a new life. They may have to cut ties with friends they used to do drugs with and establish new patterns of socializing and re-building relationships with trusted friends and family. However, this time also poses some of the greatest risks for a person in recovery. According to “Psychology Today,” the first 90 days of sobriety are the time when the greatest percentage of relapses occur.

At this time, a person can experience a post-acute withdrawal phase where they aren’t having significant symptoms associated with withdrawals, but may feel tired, stressed, or sad and be unsure of the reasons why. The first few months can be a combination of many emotions. These can range from confidence and optimism to anxiety and stress. The best steps that a person can take at this time are to take care of themselves. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising to relieve stress can help.

The First Year of Sobriety

Achieving one year of sobriety is a major accomplishment. Because addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease, it can be difficult for a person to reach the one-year milestone. As far as what to expect in early sobriety at this point, a person must always continue to be on guard for return to addictive ways of thinking. Even at one year sober, a person remains vulnerable to potential relapse. This is why it is important that a person continue to engage in practices associated with sobriety. Examples include attending 12-step meetings and continuing to engage in individual counseling. Continuing to find people who can encourage a person and support their sobriety is vital in the first year of sobriety and beyond.


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