For Me, or For Others? (What’s My Motivation for Sobriety?)

Here is the latest in our series of posts from a member of Awaken’s men’s fellowship. We hope his perspective on sobriety and its motivations will encourage you to think about what drives your recovery program!

I have always deeply admired people who come into recovery simply because they recognize an addiction in their lives and recognize that they need help with it. It takes a tremendous amount of maturity and self-awareness to see your own flaws and take steps to get rid of them. Kudos to anyone in any recovery program who does this!

But for many of us, getting involved in a program of recovery was a last resort, a measure of desperation taken only when we were in crisis. We had been “caught” or “found out” and the consequences of our acting out became very tangible. A relationship with a spouse or children or siblings may have been falling apart. We may have been in danger of losing a job or even a career. There may have been legal consequences and we were facing time behind bars. Regardless of the details, our lives had become truly unmanageable!

Whatever drove us into recovery, we should all remember that sobriety is a marathon, not a sprint. The forces that initially brought us into this program may not always be there to motivate us for a long journey. So that begs the question: Am I doing this for me or for someone else?

In my experience, the answer to this question is…YES!

There will likely be many times in our recovery journey where the primary motivation will be other people.

  • When we are trying to heal a relationship that was damaged by our behavior, we may work our program in an effort to regain trust that was lost.
  • When we are trying to be a good example for our children or our friends or our siblings or a sponsee, we may work our program so that our lives are consistent with our words.
  • When we are entering a new stage in life through a new job or a new school or a move to another place, we may work our program to get things started on the right foot.
  • When we are working through legal problems related to acting out, we may work our program to satisfy the requirements of the court.

All of these are legitimate motivations to stay on a path of recovery! Having healthy relationships is a critical part of experiencing the abundant life that Jesus talked about and it is OK for those relationships to be a significant part of the “WHY” that motivates our recovery at certain times during our journey. 

But there will likely also be times in our lives when…

  • Our relationships are relatively stable and trusting
  • Our actions are consistent with our words
  • We are not experiencing a major life-change. Or, for some…
  • The consequences of our prior actions has resulted in the loss of those relationships.

What is our motivation for recovery during these times? These are the times when we can more clearly see that we ought to work a recovery program for ourselves. If we continue to work the program when things are relatively calm, OR when there may be no practical relational reason to do so, this is when the gifts of recovery really start to show themselves – we start to recognize our identity, cultivate gratitude, practice presence, and deepen our connections with others. This is when we experience the full extent of the Step 9 Promises –  freedom and happiness, serenity and peace, selflessness, and an intuitive understanding of how to handle situations that used to baffle us. This is when the growth that we have had begins to solidify into a firm foundation for the rest of our lives. 

So, I believe that the answer to this question is a “both…and”. I am motivated to stay sober for both myself and for others. And I don’t believe we can truly separate the two. When I stay sober and work my program, I am a healthier, happier, more emotionally stable person. When I am healthier, happier, and more emotionally stable and work my program, my relationships improve. When my relationships improve and I continue to work my program, I become happier, healthier, and more emotionally stable. Staying sober is for me….and staying sober is for others. And I believe that is the only way it works.

– A grateful member of the Awaken community

Awaken is a Birmingham, AL based ministry walking with individuals, couples, and ministry leaders who have been impacted by sexual brokenness & addiction. Our goal is to help people experience hope, connection, and healing through the gospel and the recovery process. If you want to know more about Awaken or our resources, email us at!