If your next milestone in recovery is 6 months sober, then congratulations! You’ve obviously made massive progress, and it’s likely that certain areas of your life have improved dramatically.
That being said, there’s much more to look forward to around 6 months sober, including physical changes, mental health improvements, and continued strengthening of your relationships.
After 6 months of continuous sobriety, one can typically expect numerous physical and mental health benefits, enhanced emotional stability, and a more fulfilling and stable life. Many individuals experience increased clarity of thought, better relationships, and start to feel growing sense of self-confidence and well-being during this period of recovery.
The time frame between 90 days of sobriety and 6 months can seem like a long process, since most of us are used to picking up a chip every three months for the first few months. Additionally, it’s likely that your 90-in-90 meeting commitment is over and you’ve settled into a routine.
One thing that’s common among every problem drug and alcohol user we come across is that by the time we got sober, our self worth was basically non-existent.
After 6 months of continuous sobriety, we’ve not only improved ourselves significantly, we’ve begun to believe that we can stay sober over the long haul. Additionally, a thorough examination of our defects and the amends process will have a dramatic effect on our own beliefs about ourselves.
The result is that we’ll like ourselves more! We’ll be able to look ourselves in the eye when we gaze into a mirror, and view ourselves as worthy of love and respect from others.
Around the 6 month sobriety mark, many individuals find that their relationships with their family members begin to become more stable. By this point, you’ve followed through on your commitment to remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol long enough that those who love you may begin to relax their fears a bit.
Additionally, you’ve likely had at least a few chances to show your family that you’re serious about your recovery.
One thing to note is that improved family relationships don’t necessarily mean everything is better. Every family is different, and the level of trust between you and your family members is extremely dependent on your own progress in recovery as well as your family’s willingness to forgive and develop trust in recovery.
Regardless, the general stability that comes around the 6 month mark tends to inspire trust and improve relationships.
Around the 6 month mark, most of us notice that bouts of negative emotions don’t completely derail us as easily as they used to. This is great news!
One of our favorite promises in the 9th step is that “we will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.” While this promise is often interpreted as having to do with life circumstances that arise, it’s also true that we’ll be able to handle emotional situations that used to baffle us.
By the 6 month mark, we’ve likely picked up numerous tools for managing false evidence appearing real (F.E.A.R.), begun to confront our own egos, and learned a bit about handling anger and anxiety.
When we’re stuck, we know how to utilize our 12-step sponsors and friends in recovery to live in the solution.
Additionally, we’ve (hopefully) completed a thorough inventory and begun to let go of many of the regrets that used to haunt us.
This is great news for us as we emerge from the early months of sobriety into a generally more stable lifestyle.
One of the things that often happens to individuals as they approach the 6 month mark is that they begin to achieve what has been termed the “sober glow.”
What we mean by that, is that you’ll begin to appear healthy to those around you. As if by magic, our improved self-worth inspires us to make basic behavioral improvements like eating regularly, sleeping enough, and showering regularly. In other words, we take care of ourselves!
It’s common for friends and family members to make comments on our new appearance, even if we haven’t made a dramatic change in our hair or how we dress. We simply look healthy.
Studies have shown that 6 months of being drug and alcohol free has a dramatic effect on curbing the damage done to our brains, livers, skin, and internal organs. Our risk of liver disease decreases, and our immune system is functioning normally again.
Though the brain can take quite a while to recover from binge drinking and substance abuse, 6 months sobriety is around the time where we’ve given our brains a long enough break from the abuse that we notice dramatically improved function.
By this time, our dopamine and serotonin levels will be mostly normalized, and we’ll be able to properly enjoy the normal highs of making achievements in our lives.
Most people report that around 6 months of sobriety, they feel that they can think more clearly and they no longer feel the “hazy” sensation of not being able to process information.
For further reading on changes to the brain around this time, we recommend taking a look at the NIH’s resource on The Brain in Addiction and Recovery.
The phrase “keep coming back” doesn’t just apply in our first 30 days of sobriety! The longer we stay sober, the easier it is to forget exactly how we felt when we got here.
It’s easy to let up on our sense of urgency after half a year. Remember that no matter how many steps we take, we can always undo it all in short order. Maintaining regular contact with your sponsor and your support group of sober peers is extremely important around the 6 month mark.
Continuing to go to meetings and participate in aftercare programs ensures that we continue to hear what we need to hear, have regular contact with newcomers, and receive guidance from folks who’ve been in the program longer than us.
One thing that happens around the 6 month mark is that staying sober becomes much less about basic recovery actions, and more about continuing to grow into the life we’re building. If you've been putting off getting a new job, moving to a new apartment, applying for school, or taking care of any lingering legal issues, now is the time to do so.
You’ll feel a surprising amount of freedom once you take care of these things. Remember that the “next right action” doesn’t always just mean “go to meetings!” Feeling better without drugs is often tied very directly to how well we're taking care of our lives outside of the meeting hall.
It’s likely that by the time you’re knocking on the door of 6 months clean and sober, you’ve got some good, valuable experience to share. This is a great thing … if you share it!
Whether you’re taking meetings into jails / institutions, making coffee for your home group, or beginning to sponsor others, your service commitments will keep you in the middle of the program whenever you begin to waver.
We know that we harp on this topic constantly at The FullCircle Program, but having fun in recovery is one of the most surefire ways to keep our motivation to stay sober.
Whether you’re part of some kind of alternative peer group with regular social functions or you’re participating in 12-step social activities, there are endless opportunities to have fun in recovery.
Something as simple as spending downtime with recovery peers and laughing for hours while playing cards or watching a game can go a long way.
Us folks with drug and alcohol problems can be funny creatures sometimes: we achieve great things, but have an uncanny ability to totally forget what we did to get us there!
By the time you’ve got 6 months of sobriety, the “immediate crisis” in your life should be basically over, making this an easy time for sobriety to lose its priority. Even some of the lingering consequences of our past actions are beginning to feel like a thing of the past as we grow and become more stable.
This makes us extremely vulnerable to letting up on our spiritual program of action! Continue to take care of recovery basics, like hitting meetings, prayer / meditation, honesty, and service during this period of time.
You’ll be glad you did!
If you’re approaching the 6 months sobriety mark, breathe easy, and keep on working at it, one day at a time. As we always say in recovery, there’s “no top to the mountain.” Continue to live one day at a time, and you'll be at the next major milestone, 9 months sober, before you know it!
As you continue to grow, you’ll discover benefits to staying sober that you never thought possible.
Remember that sobriety is a never-ending series of distractions – keep coming back to the basics, and it will serve you well for many years to come. Welcome to your new life!BACK TO LIST