16 Recovery Quotes that May Help Inspire You to Stay Sober
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You've already survived 100 percent of your worst days.
Americans have a complicated relationship with sobriety. Nearly 90 percent of American adults say they drank alcohol at some time in their lives, with 55 percent saying they had a drink in the past month. More than one-quarter met the criteria for binge drinking in the past month, according to data from the National Institutes of Health. One in 12 will struggle with alcohol during their lifetime.
The pandemic hasn’t helped, either. A September study published in JAMA Network Open found that in all adults, alcohol consumption was up 14 percent from one year ago, and drinking was up 17 percent for women.
Drinking too much can have a lot of negative effects on your life, harming your mental and physical health, your relationships with others, your financial stability, and your self-esteem, says Keith Heinzerling, MD, an internist and addiction medicine specialist at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute and the medical director of the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine.
It can also be deadly: Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from the harmful use of alcohol, representing more than 5 percent of all deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty ImagesYou quit drinking
Reasons for becoming sober are very individual but regardless of why you did it, the important part is that you stopped drinking—and that’s a huge accomplishment. “Lots of people will say, ‘Oh, I can stop drinking anytime I want’ but then go back when it turns out to be harder than they thought,” says Dr. Heinzerling. But you’ve already overcome that first hurdle of getting sober and have moved into the recovery phase.
Recovery presents its own challenge, mostly because there is no obvious finish line. “There isn’t a point where you say, ‘That’s it! I’m done! I’m sober!'” Dr. Heinzerling says, adding that it requires a lot of small choices every day that add up for the rest of your life.
Know this, though: It is possible to get sober and stay sober long-term. A 2014 survey of more than 6,000 Alcoholics Anonymous members, found that over 27 percent reported being sober for up to a year, 24 percent were sober one to five years, 27 percent made it five to 20 years, and 22 percent said they had been sober for more than 20 years. (Here’s how to stay sober in quarantine.)
To help you stay motivated on your road to recovery, we rounded up some inspirational quotes to remind you that you’re not alone in your struggles and that you’ve got this.
thehealthy.comYou’ve already survived 100 percent of your bad days
“Your best days are ahead of you. The movie starts when the guy gets sober and puts his life back together; it doesn’t end there.” ― Bucky Sinister author of Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos
One of the best things about getting sober is how quickly you start to see positive changes in your health and life,” Dr. Heinzerling says. Within weeks you will likely see lower blood pressure and heart rate, improved blood sugar regulation, better sleep, clearer skin, fewer headaches, less chronic pain, a better sex life, mental clarity, more energy and focus, and less anxiety and depression, he says.
thehealthy.comYour journey is your own
“It does not matter how slowly you go, only that you do not stop.” — Confucius, ancient Chinese philosopher
Forget how easy sobriety appears for your friend or the celebrity in the news and focus on setting yourself up for success. “One thing you can do now is avoid long stretches of idle time because when your mind wanders you may begin to ruminate or focus on cravings,” Dr. Heinzerling says. He suggests finding a hobby that occupies your mind and your body.
thehealthy.comDraw on past life experiences
“I approach sobriety with the same mentality I approached sports with. You’re going to put in the time. You’ve got to suit up, show up, and keep your eyes on the win.” — Molly Bloom, author and former competitive skier
This isn’t the first time you’ve faced a serious challenge in your life and it may help you to look back and draw on what you learned, Dr. Heinzerling says. Write down your strengths and your objectives; this will help keep you sober and focused on your goal.
thehealthy.comSobriety is freedom
“Somebody once asked me how I define sobriety, and my response was ‘liberation from dependence’.” — Leslie Jamison, author of The Gin Closet
Addiction, by its very nature, is a type of mental, physical, and emotional bondage. Addicts often find themselves spending too much time and money feeding their habit, to the detriment of other aspects of their life. Sobriety gives you your freedom back, Dr. Heinzerling says. (Check out these eye-opening revelations on overcoming alcoholism.)
thehealthy.comDon’t drink and text
“All the mistakes I’ve ever made in my life have been when I’ve been drunk. I haven’t made hardly any mistakes sober, ever.” — Tracey Emin, English artist
Many addicts are used to using alcohol as “liquid courage” but it’s not as effective of a tool as they think it is and many people experience serious regret the next morning after a binge. “You have to break the habit of using alcohol as a crutch and learn healthier ways to manage your anxiety, feel comfortable in social gatherings, be able to relax after work, and other tricky emotional situations,” Dr. Heinzerling says.
thehealthy.comAccept the pain
“I wanted a drink [because] I didn’t want to feel what I was feeling, and a voice within was telling me that I needed a drink, that I couldn’t bear it without it. But that voice is a liar. You can always bear the pain. It’ll hurt, it’ll burn like acid in an open wound, but you can stand it. And, as long as you can make yourself go on choosing the pain over the relief, you can keep going.” ― Lawrence Block, author of Out on the Cutting Edge
Sometimes recovery just hurts and pretending it doesn’t sets you up for failure. Don’t try to force yourself through triggering situations, thinking that you “should” be able to handle it, Dr. Heinzerling says. “Accept that eventually you run out of willpower and the best thing you can do to stay sober is to make a plan to avoid triggers altogether.”
thehealthy.comYou are a better person now
“I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.” ― Gail Caldwell, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author
You are not the same person you were when you were in the depths of your addiction. It can be easy to forget how far you’ve come and how much you’ve changed during sobriety. Acknowledging all the good things about you will help you stay focused on the positive aspects of being sober. (This woman says getting sober saved her life.)
thehealthy.comEveryone has their “thing”
“We are all damaged. We have all been hurt. We have all had to learn painful lessons. We are all recovering from some mistake, loss, betrayal, abuse, injustice or misfortune. All of life is a process of recovery that never ends. We each must find ways to accept and move through the pain and to pick ourselves back up. Be patient with yourself.” ― Bryant McGill author of Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life
Not everyone will struggle with addiction but everyone has something in their life that they are trying incredibly hard to get through. You’re not alone. Give yourself grace as you figure it out.
thehealthy.comDrinking is not a personality
“When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite. That’s when the sparkle started for me.” — Mary Karr, American poet
Sobriety really gives people a fresh perspective on themselves, helping you see exactly how much alcohol was playing a role in your life. Finding out who you really are, without drinking, is one of the scariest and most beneficial parts of recovery, Dr. Heinzerling says.
The HealthyIncoming: Inspiration
“Breakthroughs don’t get planned, they are prepared for.” ― Goitsemang Mvula, South African author and artist
Progress doesn’t usually happen at a steady pace but often comes in bright bursts of improvement. Keep this in mind as you work through days or weeks or even months of struggling. Your breakthrough is coming and all the work you’re doing now is preparing you to receive it.
thehealthy.comFocus on your priorities
“Above anything else—above family or job—the main thing is staying sober. That’s because without being sober, I don’t have a family or a job.” — William Regal, former professional wrestler and author
Why are you sober? “Understanding your personal reasons for getting sober will make it easier for you to stick up for yourself when challenged, and increases your success with abstaining as well as your satisfaction from doing so,” Dr. Heinzerling says.
Count your blessings
“Being in recovery has given me everything of value that I have in my life. Integrity, honesty, fearlessness, faith, a relationship with God, and most of all gratitude. It’s given me a beautiful family and an amazing career. I’m under no illusions where I would be without the gift of alcoholism and the chance to recover from it.” — Rob Lowe, American actor
Keep a gratitude journal and write a list of blessings that have come from getting and staying sober. Reread your list when you’re feeling weak, Dr. Heinzerling suggests.
The HealthyRecovery is a daily process
“Recovery is something that you have to work on every single day and it’s something that it doesn’t get a day off.” — Demi Lovato, American singer
One thing you can do to make the day-to-day process of recovery easier is to keep a consistent schedule, Dr. Heinzerling says. “Go to bed and get up at the same time, exercise every morning, meditate every night,” Dr. Heinzerling says. Sticking to a schedule can help you stay busy, avoid falling back into bad habits, and give you things to look forward to.
The HealthyYou are already a success story
“Suffering isn’t ennobling, recovery is.” — Christiaan Barnard, South African scientist and author
In addition to the obvious benefits like improved health and a richer bank account, sobriety provides some subtle, but equally important, benefits. For instance, this proves that you can accomplish hard goals, it will help strengthen your willpower in other areas of your life, it gives you a reason to feel proud, and it helps you relate to others who may be struggling.
Find your true happiness
“I once heard a sober alcoholic say that drinking never made him happy, but it made him feel like he was going to be happy in about fifteen minutes. That was exactly it, and I couldn’t understand why the happiness never came, couldn’t see that alcohol kept me trapped in a world of illusion, procrastination, paralysis. I lived always in the future, never in the present. Next time, next time! Next time I drank it would be different, next time it would make me feel good again. And all my efforts were doomed, because already drinking hadn’t made me feel good in years.” — Heather King, author of Parched
Happiness is different than fun and while alcohol can help you have fun in the moment, it doesn’t lead to long-term happiness and joy.
The HealthyIt puts you ahead of the line
“It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald author of The Great Gatsby
Once you’re sober, you can see the problems that drinking causes other people. This gives you a real advantage over others who are under the influence. How great does it feel not waking up with a hangover and ready to start your day?
Next, find more inspirational quotes for every occasion.
- Keith Heinzerling, MD, MPH, an internist and addiction medicine specialist at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute and the Medical Director of the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: "Alcohol facts and statistics"
- Alcoholics Anonymous: "Membership survey"
- World Health Organization: "Alcohol"
- JAMA Network Open: "Changes in Adult Alcohol Use and Consequences During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the US"