Why Sobriety Needs to be Challenging

by Patrick Meninga

Is your sobriety challenging for you?


I think that is necessary.

Not just challenging in the sense that “I want to drink all the time!” but also in the sense of “I have not drank for several years but life is just really tough lately.”

Or maybe it is challenging in the sense of “I used to push myself to grow and learn new things but lately I have just gotten lazy.”

Whatever the nature of your challenge is, I see it as being a gift; an opportunity.

Recovery is boring if it is too easy.

Sounds crazy, I know.  But seriously, if your life and your recovery becomes too easy for you, it can be rather boring.  This is not good from a recovery standpoint.  Not only is there some potential for relapse there, but it is also a sign that you are not:

  • Being courageous enough in seeking new growth experiences.
  • Taking enough risks that could transform your life for the better.
  • Interacting with people and reaching out in a bold way to try to help others with your talents.

If life is boring and you are isolated then you need to reach out and start interacting more. Furthermore, I would argue that each person has a unique set of strengths in their life that they need to exploit in their recovery for the greater good.  If you can help others with your skills then you should find a way to do that which is meaningful for you.

Doing this requires risk, courage, learning new things, putting yourself “out there” a bit, or all of the above.

When Just Staying Sober is Your Only Goal

If you happen to be very early in your recovery then you are probably feeling plenty challenged right now as it is.

Even though you may be struggling just to string together a few days of sobriety, you still have an amazing opportunity at your feet.

Your life can absolutely be transformed for the better, on a nearly permanent basis, if you are willing to make two strong commitments to yourself:

  1. That you will not drink or use addictive drugs, no matter what (this is your highest truth).
  2. That you will push yourself to take positive action in your life every single day, and never let a day pass without at least some sort of effort on your part (you don’t get a day off from making personal growth).

Those are your two commitments that I think you need to make if you are in very early recovery.


Sure.  But really, what would recovery be worth if it was easy?  What would the reward be if staying sober were a piece of cake?

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

I want to at least throw you a bone here.  What I am telling you must not really seem all that fair, because I am clearly saying that recovery is both:

  1. Difficult to achieve, and
  2. Rewarding.

Unfortunately there is no middle ground.  Yes, it is hard to do.  Yes, the reward is amazing.  No, there is no middle ground.  You cannot shoot for “half recovery” and enjoy half of the benefits of sobriety.  It is an all or nothing thing.  I am just giving you fair warning: make sure you go for “all,” because otherwise you will get “nothing.”

Embrace the challenge, because you really have no other choice. It will be hard at times, but making it to 30 days sober, six months sober, a year sober, a decade sober …. these are awesome achievements. If you take positive action every single day, you will not believe how good your life will get. Mine is amazing.


A gem from the TGIF archives, originally published on November 4, 2011. Reprinted by kind permission of the author. More of his writings on recovery can be found at http://www.spiritualriver.com.

About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.