What is Sobriety? Is Sobriety right for me?
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What is Sobriety? Is Sobriety right for me?

Going sober is not an easy decision. Before committing to a period (or lifetime) of sobriety, get the facts. 


With this information below, you can make an educated decision about what is best for you.



What does sober mean? Does sober mean no drinking at all?


On their website, Merriam Webster has a few definitions, many involving limiting or removing drugs or alcohol from one’s life.


Wikipedia defines “sobriety” as “the condition of not having any measurable levels or effects from alcohol or other drugs.” quoting the World Health Organization.


Oftentimes, being sober is also associated with an individual that works a recovery program through Alcoholics Anonymous.


Thus, Sober at its core means not using mood-altering chemicals and finding alternative, and using healthy coping skills combined with a new way of living.



What’s the best way to stop drinking?


The best way to stop drinking is to first understand if drinking creates a level of unmanageability in your life, and if it has left you feeling a desire to make a change. Thus, the best way is to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself this question, “ Am I powerless over alcohol, and is life unmanageable as a result of this.” If you can answer yes to this, there is hope that you can stop drinking.


Research at Stanford University argues that AA is the best method for most people, and researchers with the National Institute of Mental Health report that healthy social connections is highly necessary for recovery.


It is also important to understand that each person is different, and some people do better in AA, while others do better in individual therapy.



What does white-knuckling sobriety mean?


White knuckling is a term used to describe someone that is attempting to simply not drink. This is also known as a dry drunk.


Someone that is not drinking, but continues to display behaviors associated with their drinking. For example, there is still a high level of irritability, dishonesty, and misery.



What are the stages of recovery?

The stages of recovery are often described below:

  1. Pre-contemplative
  2. Contemplative
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance

1. Pre-contemplative:

An individual doesn’t see chemical use as problematic, and has no interest in in trying to achieve sobriety.



2. Contemplative:

In this stage, an individual may start to verbalize some problems with chemical use, and say things like “I should start to cut back, maybe my drinking is causing adverse effects in my life.”

This is the most common stage and can last the longest. As admitting this will go against the addicted mind set.

This is a good stage to be in, as you are starting to look inwardly and this will no doubt prompt change.



3. Preparation:

In the preparation stage, an individual starts to develop a state of mind and a plan begin a recovery from addiction.

For example, they might start thinking about going to AA meetings and will research AA. They might even start researching addiction, and ways to be sober.

The key with preparation is that an individual’s starts to recognize there is a problem, and will start to show behavioral efforts to make change.



4. Action:

Action stage has a primary focus of putting all the above mentioned stages into action. This stage will be the longest stage.

This is because the above stages are fluid, and nonlinear. Therefore, it is completely normal for someone to experience fluctuations in all stages above. This is what can lead to relapses, and difficulty maintaining consistent behavioral commitment.



5. Maintenance:

In this last state, the individual has started the process of making that consistent change, and will be committed to long term change.

These people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction may also continue to attend support groups to stay sober.

These stages of change can also be applied to family members of addicts and alcoholics.


Sober Curious


What are the 12 steps?


The 12 steps were created in the late 1930s, and they were finalized in 1939 with the release of the 1st edition of the Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book”. This serves as a guide for alcoholics to find a new way of living.


Essentially, the steps are a guide to make changes and have a spiritual change.



What is AA/Alcoholics Anonymous?


Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere.


There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.


What is the big book?


The big book the text used my members of the Alcoholics Anonymous community. First published in 1939 by two men that wanted to help other fellow alcoholics who struggled from the same disease as them.


It is a combination of education on alcoholism, a guide for sobriety, and stories of other alcoholics that found recovery in an effort to provide hope to the reader.



How long does it take to be considered sober?


Sober is a term that can be overwhelming. Very simply put, you can be sober after 24 hours.


The program recognizes 24 hours as being sober. As long as you have had 24 hours without a drink or drug you are sober for that day. Hence the widely known phrase “one day at a time.”




What do sober people do for fun?


This is the most often asked question. “What will I do for fun now?” The truth in this question is simple.


Oftentimes, when finding recovery, individuals will find passion in things they once liked doing before the addiction took over. This means spending time with others.


Addiction is such a lonely and isolating experience, that finding connection with others creates a profound sense of purpose.




What does it mean when someone says they are in recovery?

The term recovery is associated with an individual that is working a 12 step program, and is not using any mood altering chemicals. They have committed themselves to a process of changing their relationship with an addictive substance or behavior.






Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. We publish quality material for your own education. Our publications are researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.




Written and reviewed by

Dr Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, ACS, LMFT

Dr. Kyle Zrenchik is the Co-Founder of ALL IN, the Creator of the Couples Erotic Flow model for treating sexual issues in individuals and couples, Designer of the Deep Dive programs at ALL IN, and is one of the most well-respected couples counselors in the Twin Cities.

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