Stairway to Freedom Sober Living Blog

Six Common Myths about Addiction that Stifle Recovery

The road to recovery from any sort of substance addiction is a long and challenging one that unfortunately very often comes with a whole lot of questionable advice about recovery from friends and family who think they know how best to help the people close to them. There are plenty of myths about recovery that can give recovering addicts the wrong idea about how to squash their demons, but these myths often are counterproductive to the healing process.

Knowing this, we want to make sure addiction recovery happens as it should here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living. Recovering addicts should not be fooled by these common myths about addiction recovery:

1. Addiction Should be Overcome with Willpower

Many people seem to believe that addicts can get over their addictions simply by having the willpower to do so, but addiction recovery is about so much more than just willpower. Modern science has proven definitively that addiction is a disease, not a choice, so getting healthy goes way beyond just wanting it badly enough.

2. Addicts Deserve Punishment

Entirely too many addicts have seen their lives and personal relationships destroyed by their addictions, and some see their failure to be healthy as a punishment or a sort of atonement for their sins. Lives do not get better through more substance abuse, however, and everybody deserves a shot at health and redemption.

3. Detox is an Off-ramp to Recovery

Some detox patients believe that a little time at a recovery center is enough to be cured of their addiction, especially after getting through the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. Getting sober may feel like the hardest part, but it certainly is not the end of the process. Detox is just the beginning. Staying sober is an entirely different series of challenges.

4. Rehab Doesn’t Work

Plenty of addicts sincerely believe that rehab is a scam, that it flat-out does not work for certain types of addicts. However, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, research shows one-third of people treated for alcohol abuse have no further symptoms one year later, and many others show significant progress in that same amount of time. Done right, this really can work. It certainly will not work for those addicts that never try it.

5. Medications are Dangerous for Addicts

Many recovering addicts are concerned that taking medication would just be trading one addiction for another, but certain FDA-approved drugs used in the addiction process are not themselves addictive. More importantly, though, these drugs actually can work to help combat the disease, and avoiding them just because they are pills is counterproductive to recovery.

6. Relapse Means Defeat

Worst of all, entirely too many patients believe that a slip up means the whole process is over and that they have lost their fight against addiction, but there are so many ways to “get back on the horse,” as they say. A relapse does not mean you have lost. The road to recovery has just hit a speed bump.

Getting sober is hard enough as it is, and myths like these only make it harder. Take advice only from professionals because if you are willing to get help, it should be from someone who is qualified to help you. Thankfully you can find those professionals right here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction



Alcoholism can be a difficult disease, in large part because its cure only comes at the hands of the person suffering from it. For those that decide they do want help, however, there are answers. Here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living, we want to assist those individuals who are serious about getting help for their alcohol abuse. That is the first step, of course, but what comes next for those that have decided to get sober?

Five Steps in Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

The following are steps one can take once they have made the decision to work toward a life beyond alcohol addition:

1. Weigh the Benefits of Quitting

Those who abuse alcohol invariably have rationalizations for doing so. Those serious about sobriety first need to make a physical list weighing those reasons against the reasons for quitting. While drinking can help people have fun and forget about their problems, the costs are weighty. Quitting can improve relationships, ebb anxiety and depression, and even improve performance at work or school. This initial list of benefits vs. costs is a great way of generating some perspective.

2. Set Goals & Announce Them

Next, it is important to make some goals in regard to quitting drinking. Decide a “quit date” and announce it to your friends and family so they can help hold you responsible for that goal.

3. Remove Temptations & Bad Influences

In the meantime, it would be wise to start removing temptations from your home. Remove all alcohol, barware, or anything else in your house that reminds you of drinking or encourages you to drink. Furthermore, if there are friends or acquaintances in your life that you associate with your alcohol abuse, create some distance from them, too. That might mean missing events where alcohol is served or even burning some bridges, but that can be a necessary step in the process of sobriety.

4. Get Educated & Be Safe

In some cases, quitting can cause some physical discomfort, including everything from headaches and nausea to anxiety, sleeplessness, and elevated blood pressure. Be aware of the withdrawal symptoms of quitting drinking, and be safe about doing so. If you have a high fever, experience seizures, or have hallucinations, call 911 or go the emergency room immediately.

5. Seek Help

If all of this sounds overwhelming and perhaps a little scary, don’t forget that there is absolutely no shame in seeking help. That might mean family or friends who can help, but it also may mean visiting a treatment center. Stairway to Freedom Sober Living is a great resource for those with no idea where to turn, and we are the help many former alcohol abusers need.

Of course, if any questions arise at any step of the process, the good people here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living will be happy to answer them. The treatment of alcohol abuse is a delicate process, and our professionals know best how to approach that process. Sobriety is a lifelong endeavor, and we are eager to help those suffering from alcohol addiction, especially those that are ready to seek the help they need.


Five Signs That a Relapse May Be Coming

Getting sober is not easy, but staying sober can be even harder. Even people with long histories of sobriety can occasionally have doubts about how long they will be able to keep it up, but the last thing anybody wants after all that hard work is a relapse. Here at Stairway to Freedom, we want to make sure that those who find their way out of our sober living recovery homes in Chicago stay healthy.

If you feel like you or someone you know is slipping, keeping an eagle eye out for the following signs of relapse could help with relapse prevention moving forward:

  • Growing Complacent – It can be easy for former addicts to believe they have their addictions under control, perhaps to the point that they skip certain positive habits that helped usher them toward sobriety in the first place. If someone starts eating more poorly, stops exercising, or insists that one drink or a small amount of a drug is not going to hurt them, it could be a sign that they are nearing a slip.
  • Failure to Deal with Increased Stress – For many people, substance abuse emerges as a crutch for dealing with stress. If someone sees increased stress in their work or personal lives and cannot figure out how to approach that stress in a healthy way, it is possible they could return to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping.
  • Isolation – Sober people need constant support from other loving, sober people in their lives, so if someone falls off the map and stops interacting with those positive influences in their lives, it could be a sign that they are hoping to avoid confrontation about a possible relapse.
  • Connecting with Old Friends – The opposite side of the social spectrum occurs when a former addict reconnects with associates who were part of their lives before sobriety. Spending time with people who were part of that old, damaging lifestyle can make it easy to slip back into that old, damaging lifestyle right along with them.
  • Missing Meetings – For many former addicts, a big part of sober living is attending meetings. While not everyone gets the same experience from these meetings in terms of maintaining their sobriety, a sudden pattern of skipping meetings for those that appear to need them is a major red flag for a potential relapse. Most people get at least something out of these recovery meetings, and missing them suggests that a relapse could be coming.

If you or someone you care about shows any of these signs or there is any sort of fear that a slip is coming, please reach out to someone in the Stairway to Freedom community so we can prevent a relapse before it happens. We care about keeping people sober because we know how much work it is to make that happen. The easiest way to avoid having to go through it all again is nipping those feelings of doubt before they lead to a regretful mistake.

How Can Sober Living Facilities in Chicago Support My Emotional Health?

The early days of recovery can feel like they drag on forever. You may feel empty, depressed or like you've lost your best friend. All sorts of emotions begin to surface. Emotions that you didn't even know existed.

Anger, fear, grief, shame. These feelings can rise up in your body and feel like you're being assaulted. You may feel filled with rage or like crying for hours. You may feel like you want revenge or you may experience self-loathing. When these emotions surface, it's vital to seek support and resources.

Let's explore ways you can handle these uncomfortable emotions.

Long-forgotten Emotions

All emotions have a cause and a purpose in our lives. Each emotion serves a function that only it can do. But after years in active addiction, we start to lose our ability to identify our emotions. Sober Living Chicago Houses can bring you the support you need to safely explore the following emotions:


Anger is within us as a protective mechanism signifying a boundary violation. When anger arises, we must first ask ourselves, "did someone violate my boundary or did I violate my own boundary by going against my values?"

Functions: Drives us to action, signals a boundary violation


  • Journaling about your anger- this can help calm the anger so you can see and understand it more clearly
  • Speaking with a trusted person or in group about the anger
  • If the anger is towards yourself, identifying where you violated your value code and remedy the situation- amends and self-forgiveness are ways to begin remedying the situation
  • If the anger is towards another person, PAUSE- allow yourself time to process your anger with a trusted other, then communicate your boundary
  • Identify the fear hidden beneath the anger- "what am I afraid of?"
  • Seek feedback from others- what do they see? How have they handled anger regarding a similar situation? Learn from others

* Oftentimes, anger will dissolve after we feel listened to and validated, which is why speaking to a counselor, sponsor or peer at a Sober Living Chicago house can be so helpful


Underneath all anger is fear. We're afraid of losing someone or something. The two most common fears in the human experience are the fear of rejection and abandonment.

Functions: Protection, survival


  • Journaling about your fear with two columns marked "true fear" and "imagined fear"
  • Speaking with a trusted person or in group- you'll find that most other people have the same fear
  • Seek feedback- what suggestions might they have? How have they handled a similar fear in the past?


It's important that we get in touch with our grief during the recovery process. It's normal to feel intense feelings of loss as we step from our half-life of addiction, into our full-life of sobriety. We need to be able to grieve and release:

  • Our drug-of-choice
  • Relationships during active addiction
  • Mistakes during active addiction (after taking responsibility and making amends)
  • Lost opportunities
  • Jobs

Functions: Making way for the new


  • Welcoming the stages of grief into your life. It's all part of the process- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance
  • Journaling
  • Speaking to a trusted person or your group
  • Seeking feedback


During early recovery, we must begin to separate our healthy shame from toxic shame. Healthy shame is what we feel for hurting those we love. Healthy shame moves us to recognize the pain we caused, take responsibility and change our direction.

Toxic shame is what happens when we feel unworthy, defective or damaged. This type of shame can create "shame spirals" that pull us down quickly. We need to separate the two: "I am not a bad person for making a mistake, but I did something bad and need to take responsibility for correcting it."

Functions: Prompts us to change course and make amends


  • Journaling
  • Speaking with a trusted person
  • Seeking feedback
  • Making amends

Loving Yourself Through It All

Above all, do NOT isolate. This is a trap. Reach out. Seek support. And give yourself credit for how far you've come. Be patient with yourself. Encourage yourself. And, most importantly, love yourself, not the addiction.

Sober Living Chicago Resources

If you're looking for Sober Living Chicago facilities that will provide the support and accountability you need while you sort out your emotions, contact us. We are committed to helping you maintain sobriety. Give us a call today!


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