Mike and Glenn convened at the sober.coffee podcast studio, where they were wrapping up a series on trending search terms. This last week they tackled the query, “what does sober mean?” You can hear the podcast by clicking here.
Marion Webster says sober is “abstaining from drinking alcohol or taking intoxicating drugs.” That is probably the most common worldview of sober. A cop pulls someone over at 2:30 AM for swerving, and most likely, he'll be making a “are they sober or drunk” decision or relying on a blower to draw its conclusion. As well, most who are in a cycle of refraining from alcohol or drugs would most likely refer to themselves as sober. We are not here to argue the definition and applaud anybody who has identified a problem with alcohol and is doing their best to desist.
This seems to be an online conversation topic where sober has been described as cleansing the past, making peace with oneself, developing personal integrity, and showing mental and emotional balance. Those descriptions align more with our definition or description of sobriety.
You see, we come from the community of Alcoholics Anonymous, and in that society, abstinence alone is defined as dry. So, one can be clear of the influence of ethanol or pharmaceuticals but still think and act the way they did when they were using – That, our community says, is dry. Again, applaudable.
So then, we're left with three options: drunk, dry, and sober.
We hated this word when we were actively using. It was tossed in our faces whether we were acting drunk or referred to as a drunk. We knew the accuser’s merit and accurate accusation, but it hurt nonetheless. We guess intoxicated, inebriated, smashed, sloshed, soaked, or seriously buzzed wouldn’t hurt as much as that is a “state,” not a “being’. Being drunk or being a drunk are two different emotional phrases.
For the alcoholic, drunk is the worst place to be. Speaking from experience, we knew what we were doing to ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually was tragic at best. But we found ourselves well below our ability to choose to stop. The drug had its hold on us as we surrendered to it daily.
Drunk, we found we could do just fine all by ourselves.
White knuckle abstinence it's the toughest of the three options. Period. Think raw pain. First of all, there is a physical side to addiction as the body becomes dependent on the doses consumed. Second, there is emotional anguish within oneself as they have little defense against the desire, and the obsession can be maddening. You can see how much distress the combination mentioned above causes.
Once the pain subsides or becomes more tolerable, addicts can find years of success staying clean. From what we've heard or witnessed ourselves, in some-to-many cases, this existence is a miserable one, at least miserable compared to an actual state of sobriety.
Dry, we found we could do just fine all by ourselves.
Yes, Sober, as you can imagine, is our favorite option to talk about. We hang on to a non-webster definition of sobriety crafted by an alcoholic in recovery: “sober is living a quality, rewarding life full of passion and purpose.” Noticeably, the words abstinence and alcohol are void in the description, just as they are in 11 of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous’s 12-step recovery program. Sobriety assumes abstinence. Sober leapfrogs dry.
There is so much to unpack in this statement. There is “quality,” there are “rewards,” there is “passion,” and there is “purpose.” These virtues move to fill the hole in our souls that we tried to drown with the drink for so many years. The answer you see is finding ourselves while staying in communion with the power greater than ourselves. This is the thread that ties it all together,
Mike and Glenn have found their purpose in serving. Recovery, like alcoholism, is progressive. Service today looks nothing like service four years ago for us. The flames have been fanned, and fulfillment has been found. We have so many more to serve, and the opportunities will present themselves if we put ourselves out there. We know the rewards of satisfying unselfish desires are magnificent, and frankly, we feel this is our responsibility.
Sobriety is a byproduct of working in a quality recovery program. It's all action. Totally action,
Sober, we found we do better together.
Mike and Glenn do not live in some utopia. We do not frolic with rainbows, unicorns, and colored snowflakes. We don't exist in a ******* snow globe. The fact of the matter is that if we get 60% bliss, that is, “sober” living, in a week and hold down our “dry” to under 40% while keeping our “drunk” at 0% -- that we check that off as a successful stretch.
We've been driving this topic around town for several laps over the last month or so at the coffee shop. We will park it in the garage for a bit. But, if you ever want to go dusted off, we would recommend going back and listening to:
· Click here to hear Dr. John's podcast, “what is sober.”
And if that's not enough, you can go back and look at the blog we posted a couple of weeks ago.”
· Click here to read the Writings post: “choosing sobriety over dry.”
We keep talking about this because this is what people are talking about. So we thought we'd cover it again on the latest episode of the sober dot coffee podcast titled “what does sober mean?”
And if you're one of the 30 million people who purchased Rick Warrens purpose driven life, we might recommend that you take it off the shelf for a spin. It's a 40-day recovery journey that goes a long way to defining passion and purpose. If you haven’t taken the adventure, here is the amazon link:
· Click here to buy The Purpose Driven Life
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be thought of as a substitute for the advice of healthcare professionals. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.