4 Big Ways Sobriety Changes You as a Person

By Beth Leipholtz 12/25/17

Rather than feeling like my life is missing something without alcohol, I feel like my life is fuller in its absence.

Woman in brown jacket walks past bikes at sunset
Here are four positive changes you'll gradually notice on your path to recovery.

If you’ve gotten sober and now live your life as a person in recovery, chances are you’re not quite the same person you were when you set out on this journey. A large part of getting sober involves really examining yourself and your behaviors when it comes to your relationship with alcohol and other people, then making changes as needed.

While it can be scary to transition to a new version of yourself, you’ll find that the changes are likely positive ones. Here are just a few:


  1. You become more aware of your own needs. When I was actively drinking, I didn’t really pay attention to what I needed in order to maintain a balanced, healthy life. I was worried about when I could drink again and how I was going to make that happen, so I paid no attention to things like self-care, exercise, diet or sleep schedules. Those things seemed minor to me at the time. But the truth is that those aspects of life are vital if you want to be a healthy, balanced person. You need to make the time to pay attention to how you treat your body and care for it. If you neglect yourself, your body begins to give up on you and it takes a toll. As a person in recovery, I have the ability to listen to my body and treat it accordingly. If I feel sluggish, I know I need to eat better foods. If I am tired, I know I need to work on having a consistent sleep schedule. If I were still drinking, it wouldn’t be possible for me to focus on those needs, nor would I care.

  1. You begin to look more at your own behavior. This is not always fun. In fact, sometimes it really sucks to look at your own faults and figure out what action you need to take to fix your behavior. It’s difficult to admit when you’re wrong and when you’ve messed up. But it’s also necessary, especially at the beginning of your recovery. This is when it’s most vital to observe your own behavior and identify what needs to change. But doing so is also an ongoing thing. Getting sober does not necessarily mean that your problematic behaviors will disappear. So you need to find a way to confront what you do wrong and come up with a way to change your behavior in the future. I still struggle with this sometimes. It’s difficult to admit to handling something the wrong way. But it’s also freeing when you can look at what you’ve said or done and apologize for handling it the way you did. It not only helps your relationship with yourself, but also with other people in your life.

  1. You take less of life for granted. Maybe this isn’t necessarily the case for everyone, but sobriety has made me a more grateful person. Sometimes I look at a sunrise or sunset and I’m just overwhelmed with the enormity of this world and the fact that I get a place in it each day. When I was drinking, that wasn’t something I ever thought about. I was pretty focused on myself and my own desires. I felt entitled to certain things. While I certainly still catch myself feeling this way sometimes, it’s not nearly as prevalent in my life as it used to be. Today I try my best to let the people in my life know they are loved and appreciated. I feel lucky to have the job I do, the home I do, the friends I do. I know none of it is certain. I also feel such gratitude about the fact that I am alive. There were so many times when I was drinking that I put myself in awful, dangerous situations. But there’s a reason I came out of each of them relatively unscathed, and I try to remind myself of that daily.

  1. You feel a shift in your attitude toward alcohol. This won’t happen immediately. At the beginning of recovery, you’ll probably yearn for alcohol. You’ll likely glamorize the time you spent drinking, making it into something that looks better than what the reality was. You’ll wish you could be included in activities with your friends that involve alcohol. But as time passes, this begins to change. Being sober shifts your perspective on alcohol and drinking and everything it involves. In my experience, the more time I’ve spent away from drinking, the less I have missed it. I can look at a can of beer today and have zero desire to drink it. I can observe the way other people act and speak when drinking and realize that no part of me wants to return to that. Rather than feeling like my life is missing something without alcohol, I feel like my life is fuller in its absence. And that really is the most freeing feeling of all.

Of course, these changes are just a small number of the ones you’ll observe as a person in recovery. Each person’s journey is different, and as such, each person changes in different ways. But as time passes, you’ll likely realize that the changes you are seeing in yourself are for the better, which makes day-to-day life much more manageable.

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.