I thought the answer to this was just abstinence from alcohol… Apparently I was off.
I was recently surprised to read that the meaning of Sobriety is not just abstinence from drinking alcohol, though that is what is meant in 12-step programs and other recovery groups.
However, for me, Sobriety means abstinence from the consumption of any alcohol and mood altering street and prescription drugs (e.g pot, heroin, crystal meth, cocaine, oxycotin, hallucinogens, etc). Also, beyond the abstinence from mood-altering chemicals, sobriety also means being generally at Peace with myself and the world at large, regardless of what is happening.
I do not consider caffeine to be part of this group, because my life does not fall apart with caffeine and I rarely have more than 3 cups in a day…
I think we each need to define what Sobriety means for us. It could be abstinence from compulsive eating or gambling or promiscuous sexual activity… It could also mean freedom from co-dependency. It all depends on each person and I am definitely not one to judge or dictate.
Fundamentally, I think any behavioral pattern that gets in the way of a functional life can be considered an addictive behavior and can qualify for sobriety…
What is Recovery ?
According to the The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) quoted in the NCADD, “Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.”
For me though, recovery starts once Sobriety has started. Stopping drinking is the first step and abstinence is where it started. Without abstinence there is no recovery. There is no opportunity for change. I tried the moderation approach. Moderation for me meant consuming 12 bottles of beer every day and try to hold down a job.
For some people though, moderation seems to work and that’s good.
With complete abstinence though, I have taken out the enormous space alcohol occupied in my life, regardless of how much I consumed, and that created a space for a brand new life, which I am discovering with each day, month and year sober.
So, what does Sobriety mean for you? What does Recovery ? Or do the meanings really matter ?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
The Zed Writer