Sobriety Becoming the New Norm in Recovery

February 20, 2012 Kendra Sebelius

Two weeks ago I took a Benadryl because I was struggling with some sinus issues, and a few hours later at work, I felt like I was ‘off.’ I was sort of dazed, out of it, brain was not thinking as quick, and my entire body was tired. It literally took me half an hour to figure out that the Benadryl was the mostly likely cause. I take Benadryl a lot, and rarely feel any side effects, but this day I was completely uncomfortable in my body. I didn’t feel centered or in control of how my body was feeling. It felt like I was drugged, and it was uncomfortable.

When Substances Become the Norm for the Body

This moment got me thinking about how our body and mind becomes used to a state of being, whether that is dependent on substances, or being clean and sober. When we use substances, our body becomes used to those substances, and with those who struggle with dependency, the body craves it, which can help explain how over time being intoxicated becomes the new norm. Our body believes it needs the alcohol, and in many ways that is why it can be so dangerous to stop drinking cold turkey, without the assistance of detox.

I remember people asking me how I could stay drunk all the time, how I could drink that much, etc. I couldn’t explain it easily back then, but it was the normal thing for me to do. My body understood alcohol. I drank to feel happy, sad, numb, angry, and it was how I handled all emotions, as well as how my body was comfortable. My body physically and my mind psychologically only knew having alcohol.

Early Days in Sobriety

The biggest thing I hear from people in early recovery is “How can I live being sober?” I know I felt this way when I first got sober, because I didn't know how to do anything sober, let alone live a sober life. I had spent so many years drinking, that to live a sober life seemed so foreign and uncomfortable. How would I be able to be social, relax after a hard day, have sex, deal with painful emotions? Normal questions when we first get sober.

The first year of recovery is full of learning not only how to live sober, but how to handle triggers, and replace the addiction with new healthy coping skills. It takes trust, faith, and hope that in time what is at first uncomfortable and not normal to us, would become not only normal, but be the key to living a full life.

Lessons Learned in in Sobriety

I wanted to share my Benadryl experience, because it helped opened my eyes to how far I have come in a little over four years in sobriety. Feeling out of it, taking substances that change how my body and mind feel is no longer the norm. My body feels uncomfortable being altered in any way.

I have come a far way from running to substances when I was struggling, felt triggered, and being intoxicated is no longer the norm. The norm is to take a bath, call a friend, read a book, take a walk, or write. I tell Doctors I am not allowed to be prescribed medication that is addictive. I express my feelings when I feel overwhelmed. I have learned and continue to learn each and every day.

There are so many gifts recovery and sobriety give to us, but I think a new norm is the greatest! After a few years in sobriety, running to healthy coping skills and staying sober is the norm, and isn't something we have to fight for like we did in the first year. Our body only knows sobriety, and that becomes what we know and gives meaning to life.

Gratitude and Hope in Recovery from an Addiction

Every day I say not only how grateful I am to be sober, but for how grateful I am for the gifts given to me in recovery. The new norm has given me a life I never had before. A life I never could have imagined. I may have worried in early sobriety, and not seen the light at the end of the tunnel, but I see now, that I have the opportunity to write now and share the light with others. To let others know that they are never alone, and sobriety is about much more than being sober. It truly is about thriving in life.

If you are struggling in early sobriety, never give up hope and never stop fighting! What may be uncomfortable and foreign at first will become not only the new norm, but can become the foundation to create the life you only imagined.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

APA Reference
Sebelius, K. (2012, February 20). Sobriety Becoming the New Norm in Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Kendra Sebelius

Kellie Holly
March, 2 2012 at 7:03 am

Kendra, thank you so much for this article. I have a dear friend who is 7 months into his sobriety. I look forward to the day when he notices positive changes like this one; he's already felt many positive emotional and mental changes. I am so proud of him, and I am happy that you are sensing positive changes in yourself and your body as far into sobriety as you are. I love the image you chose too: P.S. Never give up.

Ava Donja
February, 26 2012 at 11:49 am

Same exact thing with benadryl. It was also weird the next day when I woke up achy and dehydrated - it was a flashback to hangovers.
7 months sober

Scott M
February, 22 2012 at 7:23 pm

I just came across this and I couldn't agree more. I'm 14 months sober and I still have cravings but I force myself to accept the truth. The cold hard facts of life come pretty quickly when you're trapped in an addictive cycle and it's very difficult to manage. I think that things get better only if you do something to make your situation in life better. Just stopping drinking is only the beginning...I guess for those who are afflicted with this condition, a great challenge is placed before them. What's most important is to take responsibility for your own problems and do whatever is necessary to correct it(as hard as that may be). Thanks for the article :)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kendra Sebelius
February, 22 2012 at 7:40 pm

Thank you so much Scott!!! Stopping drinking or using is absolutely only the beginning! It is a great challenge, but it is absolutely a huge gift to be in sobriety! It is so important to see how over time, the lessons we learn change, and life becomes more full, rich and empowering!

Leave a reply