Abstinence vs Recovery – Difference and Comparison

What is Abstinence?

Abstinence from indulgences such as drugs and alcohol is a self-imposed restriction on one’s activities. To be sober is an intentional decision made by the individual to lead a sober life. In contrast to suppression, abstinence has beneficial effects on the individual. Nevertheless, if the underlying causes of the addiction are not addressed, the person is at risk of relapsing into addiction.

Most people who use drugs or drink alcohol do so because of the negative consequences drugs and alcohol have. As a result of being separated from the drug environment, he may be driven to seek sobriety due to this. In other words, they will have no way of getting their hands on any medications, and the only option left is to abstain from alcohol.

Stress, boredom, re-exposure to drugs, and even drug-associated cues are such triggers and consequences. As a person in abstinence goes without drugs for a more extended period, his need for them grows stronger. The incubation effect is what is referred to as this phenomenon.

This can have severe ramifications for the person’s health, especially if opium addiction is tough. Cold turkey is quite harmful under these circumstances. As a result, medical assistance and treatment are always preferable because love and support play a significant role in the recovery process from substance abuse.

What is Recovery?

Recovery is when an addicted person’s entire way of life and behavior patterns are altered. Furthermore, a spiritual side to well-being is even more beneficial than physical. The healing process consists of several different therapies and treatment programs. Recovery differs from abstinence, in which a person isolates himself by receiving help from others. Therefore, the practice is carried out in groups of people. Rehabilitation centers, where patients can receive medical and personal assistance from their peers, are an excellent illustration of this.

Following abstinence, recovery is the next step in the de-addiction process. Once a person’s body is cured, various instruments and procedures assist them. These activities are carried out to assist him in remaining focused and interested in his new life. It could entail finding a new career, locating housing, or simply becoming a community member.

The method will only be effective if the person is genuinely committed to making positive changes in their life. This requires a great deal of determination, inspiration, and encouragement from others. It is only via this process that long-term sobriety can be attained. Because the underlying cause of the addiction is addressed during recovery, the likelihood of relapsing is relatively low.

Difference Between Abstinence and Recovery

  1. Abstinence is defined as a self-imposed restriction from indulgences such as drugs and alcohol. Still, recovery is defined as a complete transformation in the lifestyle and behavior of a drug or alcohol addict.
  2. Abstaining from addictive behaviors and keeping sober is required for abstinence; however, seeking treatment and receiving support for one’s complete well-being is necessary for recovery.
  3. Abstinence emphasizes physical healing, whereas recovery emphasizes healing the whole person, including the mind, body, and spirit.
  4. Abstinence is characterized by solitude and the avoidance of social interactions, but recovery is characterized by support and communication with others.
  5. The risks of relapse are higher when abstaining, whereas relapse after recovery is meager.

Comparison Between Abstinence and Recovery

Parameters of ComparisonAbstinenceRecovery
MeaningAbstinence from indulgences such as drugs and alcohol is a self-imposed restriction on one’s activities.De-addiction includes a change in one’s way of life and behavior, referred to as “recovery.”
ProcessRefraining from addictive behaviours while being sober is essential.Therapy and assistance for overall well-being are essential components of this process.
HealingThis type of healing is only applicable to the physical body.A person’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being improves when healed.
SupportPeople who abstain from alcohol or other drugs tend to avoid social situations.Recovery clients receive all of the assistance they require from others.
RelapseThe individual has a greater chance of relapsing in the future.The individual has a lower likelihood of relapsing.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03750.x
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01688638008403787