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Sobriety is not a Competitive Sport

Americans love sports. We cheer on our kids from the time they are old enough to toddle onto one field or another. We feel incredibly passionate about this or that university’s sports teams. We are loyal to various professional groups—sometimes rooting for all the different sports teams in a single city and sometimes picking and choosing a favorite for each sport regardless of geography. 

And what an amazing array of sports we follow. Baseball, football, and basketball. Soccer, wrestling, and bowling. Lacrosse, field hockey, and polo (both in and out of the water). The full panoply of Olympic sports, both winter and summer. Car racing, horse racing, and drone racing. Golf, sailing, and rugby. We even watch poker on a sports network, cooking competitions on dedicated food networks, and various e-sports online. 

But make no mistake: Our love of competition hardly stops there. 

Our kids compete in Academic Decathlon and other knowledge-based contests; in marching band, dance team, and show choir contests; and in activities like speech and debate. 

We tend to think of our careers in terms of competition: How can we be better than a rival company? How can we get the promotion everyone wants? How can we make ourselves attractive to a rival company that might be willing to pay us more money?

And, of course, all elections—from the local level to the national stage—are competitions, and we tend to lean into that notion by rooting for our candidate as though we were watching a horse race rather than having a conversation about ideas. 

It might seem like competition—and the quest to be a winner rather than a loser—is the defining characteristic of our individual lives and of our society as a whole. But there is at least one thing that you should never think of as a competition: Your sobriety.

You Are Not in Competition with Anyone – Not Even Yourself

Given our tendency to focus on competition, it can be easy to start thinking of your recovery journey that way, too. 

Maybe in a 12-Step or SMART meeting, you find yourself wondering who has been sober longer than you have, who might be struggling more than you are, or who has experienced the most relapses. Depending on what conclusions you draw, you might feel quite good about yourself. Or you might feel quite bad about yourself.

But neither the feeling that you are somehow “winning” nor the sense that you are instead “losing” a sobriety competition is actually helpful to you as your recovery journey unfolds. 

The notion of winning might cause you to start feeling overconfident, which can lead you to let go of the routines and strategies that are helping you stay sober. Quickly enough, you may find yourself in danger of relapse.

The notion of losing might cause you to give up hope, which will also put you in danger of a relapse in short order.

Better, then, to not let notions of competition define your recovery. You have probably noticed that in this blog entry (and many others as well) have referred to your “recovery journey.” We would never refer to a “recovery race” or a “recovery contest.” Recovery is a journey, full of experiences—including challenges and opportunities—but devoid of a scoreboard.

In the End, Nothing Beats Being Sober

When you are struggling with alcohol or drug use, it can feel as though you will never be able to escape. On the one hand, substance use is having deleterious effects on your physical and mental health. On the other hand, the challenges presented by withdrawal symptoms can seem impossible to overcome. There might seem to be no way out of the terrible cycle in which you have found yourself.

Fortunately, however, there is a way out of the cycle and back to a life of sobriety. At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we can get you through the rigors of withdrawal via medically supervised detoxification (and, of course, by making sure you do not have access to substances). 

Next, we provide a robust rehabilitation program—including group and individual therapy—that provides recovery strategies while also addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be intertwined with your substance use disorder. We follow detox and rehab with a commitment to a continuum of care—meaning you can start your recovery journey knowing that you can count on us for ongoing support. 

When you are ready to restart your life without drugs or alcohol, French Creek Recovery Center is ready to help you reach your goal.