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Sobriety Timeline and Milestones

by Jordan Crowley about a year ago in addiction
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How I felt at each step on my “Road To Recovery” to answer the “When will I?” questions.

Sobriety Timeline and Milestones
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

”Where do I start?” is one of the many questions I see in articles, forums and online communities nowadays from people looking for help in trying to navigate their own way through recovery from drug addiction and alcohol abuse. I began my journey at the age of 19 and am coming up on 9 years completely sober from alcoholism and poly-substance abuse. These are my experiences, in a timeline fashion, to help shed some light on how and when things progressed for me and hopefully answer some of those questions for others!

By Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

0-6 Months: If you can manage to think between the ups and downs of a tidal wave of emotions, coupled with any physical withdrawal symptoms, you might feel like you’re just becoming a really bad philosopher. I questioned everything. There was no point in anything. I didn’t know how to do anything NOT under the influence of SOMETHING. I had no pattern for basic human functions such as sleeping, eating, going to work or any other every day thing. The thoughts and cravings for any kind of fix were there at every step and around every corner.

6 Months- 1 Year: Little by little, semblance of a humanoid is forming. I learned that I had these things called feelings and became able to identify them somewhat. I was able to laugh and be happy and not just an anxious mess pretending to do and be those things. I could say I felt down and sometimes even why. I listened to my body telling me I was hungry, tired, stressed or whatever else and responded positively instead of numbing it somehow. It was even OKAY to do so. I wouldn’t call it 100% by any means though. There were still fleeting thoughts and romanticizing about how much “easier” doing day to day things could be. Admittedly, some days I still felt run down enough that I could have convinced myself that going back was the right way. Luckily, I had seen enough of a positive change to keep going forward.

Years 1 - 3 This is where the going gets tough again. At this point I was going through a self help program and was doing a lot of things I had avoided doing to get through all the steps. I felt a million times better but was going through another whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. Owning up to my wrong-doings and apologizing for them?! That doesn’t sound like me or fun at all! By the time I was done though, the sense of peace and relief I had was unmatchable. I was comfortable in my own skin without the help of any substance. Things just started to go my way even though I no longer felt like the “end all be all” singularly important monster that controlled EVERYTHING that I once was. This sober thing is starting to seem pretty cool.

3 Years - 5+ Years: If you build a house, you have to maintain it or else it will go to ruin from the inside out. If something minor breaks, you replace it or remodel it in order to make it better. You NEVER have to tear the whole thing down and start from the foundation up unless something devastating and out of your control happens, generally speaking. At this point I had a very strong foundation. My “house” might have had some wacky windows or not quite right floorboards, but I kept working on it. I became proud of what I had built and who I was so I kept doing a little daily upkeep and in time it became a private estate. I had friends and family come back into my life and support me. There was no more lying, cheating, stealing or negative behaviors, which made for a much simpler, more enjoyable life. The days of running and hiding from people and feelings were gone. I felt like a brand new person and LOVED IT. Around year 4 is about when all cravings and thoughts completely subsided. Where I am now compared to where I was almost 9 years ago is mind blowing. I have anything and everything I could ever ask for and it’s all because I’m sober. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world and it was well worth all the not so easy moments. Especially since nowadays it’s so easy I don’t even think about it.

By Pat Kay on Unsplash

This road is not exactly the same for anyone in recovery. Thoughts and feelings will always be different to a degree but I’m living proof that over time, it does get easier and is always worth it!


About the author

Jordan Crowley

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