Phases of Alcoholism Recovery

The recovery process in Alcoholics Anonymous includes several general phases that people may pass through. These are not time related but are usually dependent on the persons particular circumstances.

Initial Sobriety

  • Surrenders to alcohol – accepts alcoholism
  • Begins humble search for self
  • Restoration of physical health begins
  • Restoration of memory begins
  • Restoration of mental functions begins
  • Begins to practice self-honesty
  • Is pre-occupied with sobriety
  • Growth of open-mindedness
  • Lessening of needless guilt
  • Freely discusses alcohol and its problems
  • Mild depression and anxiety lessens
  • Mental functions are more alert

Learning Sobriety

  • Accepts and owns their alcoholism
  • Loss of freedom acknowledged and accepted
  • Alibis replaced by sound reasons for sobriety
  • Social pressures to quit, lessen – threats replaced by encouragement
  • Grandiose behaviour begins to be replaced by the give and take of real personal relations
  • Aggressive behaviour begins to be replaced by willingness to learn
  • Persistent remorse disappears, peace initiated
  • Abstinence graduates into sobriety
  • Pattern of thinking begins to change
  • Regains friends
  • Job prospects improve
  • Sobriety-centred behaviour improves
  • Regains outside interests
  • Acceptance of friends
  • Sense of humour starts to replace self-pity
  • Acceptance of environment improves
  • Begins to regain family faith
  • Resentment of others begins to be replaced by acceptance of others
  • Loyalty and protection of family interests begins
  • Sex relations improve
  • Greater understanding of life partner
  • Learns to enjoy a good breakfast

Accepting Sobriety

  • Surrenders to life – accepts life on its terms
  • Loss of desire to drink becomes profane and lasting
  • Improved ethical and moral perception
  • Improved thinking
  • Improved feeling
  • Keeps company with people one can respect of help
  • Emotional ‘dips’ become fewer and shallower
  • Emotions become easier to manage

Creative sobriety

  • Loss of desire to drink becomes deeper and almost permanent
  • Fears, anxieties and depressions are understood and managed in interpersonal relations
  • Appreciates deeply freedom from alcohol
  • Explores new freedom to use it in other activities without fear
  • Single-minded sobriety; defines assurances that there is no compromise with sobriety
  • Genuine spiritual desires centred on new way of life
  • Alibi system replaced by deepening quality of intelligent sobriety
  • Appreciates need for help, both for sobriety and as a guard against drinking in daily life

Pleasurable Sobriety

  • Self-unity, at peace with oneself, knows serenity
  • Socialises easily, at one with the world
  • Little or no emotional hang-overs
  • Rewards clearly exceed tough times
  • Feels well, enjoys sobriety
  • Anxiety, shyness, etc., disappear in genuine interpersonal relations

Adapted from Stewart DA. Thirst For Freedom. Hazeldene; Minnesota

Thirst for Freedom