Under-promise and Over-deliver 

Under-promise and Over-deliver 

In Addiction by Tree House Recovery

When we are newly sober, the world is full of both fear and possibilities. We no longer have our crutches to rely on and are dealing with life on our own terms. Nonetheless, being actually IN CONTROL sounds incredibly liberating in theory, but in practice? Well, let’s just say your mileage may vary on that scope.

What is common to both those who hit bottom quickly and those whose habit(s) have stretched into decades is a sense of how to re-engage with the world as a sober person. Your responsibilities, worries, commitments, and challenges are all waiting for you in sobriety. But the old way you handled them has to change, and that can take some adjustment—and transparency.

So what do we do when we re-enter “the real world?” We under-promise and over-deliver. That’s not to say “never aspire to anything” or “never push yourself” or anything defeatist. What it means is that recovery outside a treatment center means calibrating some new emotions, and establishing wise relationship to others in this very life. This means getting real with ourselves and the others who depend on us.

Try though we might to make up for lost time or try to show the world that we’re back to our true selves, this might not be the best time to push things. Instead, by under-promising and delivering and/or over-delivering, we can set more reasonable expectations for ourselves and communicate that to others.

PRE-SOBRIETY: You get invited to happy hour after work to celebrate the culmination of a successful project. You’re expected to go, of course. This turns into a drunken disaster.

SOBRIETY:  You get invited to happy hour after work to celebrate the culmination of a successful project. You communicate that you have another engagement, or better yet, talk to your supervisor and let them know your situation. Say you want to be a team player, but your sobriety comes first—and right now, happy hour can’t be part of your life.

PRE-SOBRIETY: Your buddies want to “pre-game” before the awesome double bill tonight since drinks at the club will be too expensive. Drinks turn into lines turn into….not even making the show.

SOBRIETY: Your buddies want to “pre-game” before the awesome double bill tonight. Instead, take along a sober friend with you and meet them at the show. 

These are just a couple of examples of ways you can still engage in life while not being expected to engage with substances. You can choose your own way, but always, ALWAYS advocate for your own sobriety. You earn it, and setting limits is how you keep it.


At Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon we use cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction and triggering behaviors. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help; our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474