Crossing the Bridge Between External to Internal Sobriety

SobrietyWhen you begin drug treatment, it’s entirely structured. From morning until night, you’ve got somewhere to be and every activity you do is in support of your recovery. For instance, the following is a typical schedule for someone new to addiction treatment:

  • 5:30am                 Medications
  • 6am                       Breakfast
  • 7am                       Meditation
  • 8am                       Morning Support Group
  • 9am                       Group Therapy
  • 10am                    Discussion: Healthy Relationships
  • 11am                    Discussion: Recovery Thoughts and Behaviors
  • Noon                     Lunch
  • 1pm                      Walk/Exercise
  • 2pm                      Family Therapy
  • 3pm                      Relapse Prevention Discussion
  • 4pm                      Individual Therapy
  • 5pm                      Self Care Time
  • 6pm                      Dinner
  • 7pm                      Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting
  • 8pm                      Peer Support Group
  • 9pm                      Medications/Bedtime


SobrietyYou’ll notice that the structure is high because that routine and external regulation helps will keeping you sober. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to make any choices on your own. The reason why you’re in drug treatment is because they are providing the support you need to get you on the road to recovery. Typically, drug treatment provides the following in one form or another:

  • Help overcoming addictions to alcohol, prescription medications,
    and illegal drugs (like methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin/other opioids,
    hallucinogens, PCP, or marijuana)
  • Emphasis on peer support and self-help skills
  • Assessment / evaluation by qualified, skilled clinicians
  • Legal system advocacy when needed
  • One-on-one and group counseling
  • Education about alcohol and other drugs
  • Assistance in developing life skills
  • Individualized, goal-oriented treatment planning
  • Case management of multiple issues
  • Referrals to other services, as needed (i.e. psychiatrists, medical doctors,
    employment services, treatment for other issues, etc.)
  • Transition planning, such as finding work, a place to live, and drug treatment aftercare programs.
  • Medication monitoring when necessary
  • Family therapy
  • Healthy, nutritious, well-prepared meals
  • Coordination with physician, therapist, and other external service providers

The Importance Of Support

You can see how extensive this level of support is. You can see that drug treatment has you embraced with groups, individual therapy, good food, and clinicians who know what they’re doing so that you can begin your journey towards long-term sobriety.

How to Transition

Yet, at some point, there must be a transition from the external structure that drug treatment provides to an internal structure based upon your determination and confidence to stay sober. It’s a slow process and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. However, there are thousands of men and women who have made this transition. There are many recovered addicts who slowly internalized the structure that supported them in the beginning and they made it their own.

Drug treatment includes all that structure for a reason. And for some, in order to continue with sobriety, they’ve learned how to create that structure for themselves. They’ve learned how to take the drug treatment philosophy and apply it to their lives. In fact, it’s not only the structure that makes its way on the inside, but it’s the beliefs, thoughts, behaviors, and choices that must be internalized. That whole new way of experiencing life that a new recovering addict discovers becomes the life that he or she actually lives. And that is a process of changing the patterns of one’s mind.

It begins with an external change. Instead of going to bed at 3am and waking up at noon and then not eating until 7pm but drinking as soon as you wake, now you’ve got a regular pattern of eating, sleeping, and taking care of yourself. Now, you’ve got a regular habit of paying attention to your thoughts and choices. Now, you’ve got a regular routine of going to therapy because you know during therapy, you’re furthering the internalization of a sober mindset. Little by little you won’t need the external structure because you’re crossing the bridge between external to internal sobriety.


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