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  • Writer's pictureMike and Glenn

What is Sober?

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

What is sober? Really, what is sobriety? I don't know if this simple blog will answer the question for you or us, but it was fun to discuss it at the shop with Glenn, Mike, and Doctor John this last week.

We guess the conversation must start with the reality of what sober is not. We are experts at being not-sober, having spent decades bouncing between drunk and dry. Drunk is easiest to define, and we agree with most of the definition: “being in a temporary state in which one's physical and mental faculties are impaired by an excess of alcohol”. The term dry needs a bit more massaging for clarity. The root for dry could be “lack of”. In sobriety circles, it simply means a lack of drink. This does not get us to sober, but it sure keeps us from drunk.

At this point, we are left with the term sober. Websters and others interchange the words dry and sober; however, in the rooms of real recovery, they are NOT the same. You see, abstinence (dry) has a finish line. You stop. You're done. You are dry. Sobriety is an ongoing starting point. You keep moving. You keep striving. You keep growing. You are never finished.

Sober is love: love for oneself and love for others. Sober is honest, open, and willing. Sober is reflective and genuine. Sober serves. Sober strives to be better each day. Those choosing to pursue sobriety are far from perfect. Progress, however, is their goal.

Societies’ love for dogs is unmatched and usually explained by most in this way: that the dog loves us unconditionally. Unfortunately, that is not true. If we mistreat or don't feed the dog, they will respond conditionally. They will not wag their tail or lick our faces. There is a condition to their love. The real beauty of the dog is that it allows us to love it unconditionally. This is the desire, we believe, of every human being – the desire to love unconditionally. If we chose to love our fellow man that way (sobriety), that would be heaven on earth.

And here is a dose of reality for those not feeling the love. It’s OK. It's OK not to be OK, as the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is not built to be a feel-good program per se. It is designed to be a get-well program. It is a learn to love unconditionally program. Truer is that sobriety is about learning to endure the “ism”, or said a different way, “getting” well while learning how to “suffer better.” Life is going to hand you life, and bad shit will happen. But the endurance and quest for love enable us to accept our insides in the face of others’ outsides (fluffed up social media statuses).

AA is a non-organization of broken healers of each other. There is love in the rooms if you open yourself up to it. There is help if you are willing to accept it. There is joy if you are ready to embrace it.

Healing happens here!


Ideas and thoughts for this blog post were taken and built upon from podcast Bonus Drop #24 Titled: “What is sober?" The podcast dropped on 11/6/2022

click here to hear the podcast

Mike and Glenn thank Dr John for his contributions


Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions do 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.


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