What is sober? What is sobriety? Can we define this? Let’s try!
Sober. First off this word can be exchanged with AF, Alcohol-free, whatever. But what is sober?
When we say sober, at least for this blog, we are referring to alcohol.
(That’s the drink that put Paul behind the mic 🎙).
This topic, especially in the rooms of AA and 12 step programs, can be somewhat divisive. 👊🏼👊🏼 But…the truth of the matter is, it really shouldn’t be. I think we’ll find out that arguing over what sober IS, and ISN’T, is a silly and almost harmful endeavor.
In fact there are even nicknames for what type of sober you are. 🙃
Our recommendation is don’t get too attached to any idea of what sober looks like, because at the end of the day, it’s not really about the substances, behaviors or actions…
it’s the freedom that you have from them. 🦅
Do your absolute best not judge others for their definition of sober because as we’ll find out, it’s not as black and white as you think.
Quick side note about judgements 👉🏼 When you judge others you judge yourself (thank you boomerang 🪃 effect), and create separation.
In terms of sobriety, Paul has heard some silly stories about people being told they aren’t sober because they drink kombucha, they drink NA beers, or they had beer battered fish and chips for lunch. True story. Never-mind mind the fact a ripe banana 🍌 has the same amount of alcohol as kombucha and a hamburger bun has nearly triple that. Are you not sober if you eat a banana or a hamburger or chicken sandwich?
When Paul first quit drinking and began going to AA he thought it was no alcohol, no drugs, no substances, no pills, no prescriptions, no mind altering substances, no MDMA, no mushrooms, the list can go on and on…
But, welcome to the real world, where there are approximately 50 shades of gray, and just as many shades of ‘sober’.
Here are some statements Paul has heard from sober people.
- “I’m sober, and I drink Kombucha.”
- “I’m sober, and I drink NA Beers.”
- “I’m sober, and I eat dishes that are prepared with some form of alcohol.”
- “I’m sober, and I smoke cigarettes.”
- “I’m sober, and I use chewing tobacco.”
- “I’m sober, and I drink 1-10 cups of coffee a day.”
- “I’m sober, and take ADHD meds.”
- “I’m sober, and take antidepressants.”
- “I’m sober, and I use cannabis.” (This has been coined California Sober.)
- “I’m sober, and I take benzos for my anxiety and sleep.”
- “I’m sober, and take opiates for chronic pain.”
- “I’m sober, and I take sleep meds.”
- “I’m sober, and I pull out my eyebrows, I itch, pick and pull.”
- “I’m sober, and I use plant medicine.” (Ayahuasca, psilocybin, ketamine, MDMA)
- “I’m sober, and I have to sexually relieve myself constantly.”
- “I’m sober, and I eat a fuck ton of ice cream.”
- “I’m sober, and I love to shop.”
- “I’m sober and I leave this planet while doing Breathwork or Tai Chi.”
Paul has even heard people say, I’m sober, but…they have a couple drinks a year, month, or even in a given week.
As you can see, defining sobriety is a fool’s errand. We can’t do it, and we shouldn’t do it. In fact it’s dangerous to do so. If we did, we’d separate, isolate and disconnect ourselves even more.
We’re also ignoring the environment we have to live in. We unnecessarily beat ourselves up for not hitting our internal definition of sober. In a meeting one time Paul heard a guy say that he wasn’t sober because he was taking sleep meds. It was consuming him. We, of course, don’t exactly know what his relationship with the meds was like…if he was taking them ‘as prescribed’…but sleep is fucking important. Paul had to take AF Sleep-Eze, and Tylenol PM’s for probably 4-6 months when he first quit drinking. If you don’t get good sleep, the foundation of your sobriety is compromised.
Okay, so those are some Newtonian ways to define sobriety. Those are more about staying away from something, or coming at it from a lens of sacrifice.
Here are some better ways. 🙌🏼
- Sobriety is freedom.
- Sobriety is everything.
- Sobriety is living authentically.
- Sobriety is not being a slave to a substance, behavior or action.
- Sobriety is you living your life how you want to live.
- Sobriety is living with a connected head and heart.
- Sobriety is being able to recognize beauty, art, and appreciate sunsets.
- Sobriety is a different vibration.
- Sobriety is hope.
- Sobriety is you taking off the chains.
- Sobriety is you…meeting you.
- Sobriety is a manageable life.
- Sobriety is “downgrading additions.” Sarah Hepola – Blackout
If you remove alcohol and aren’t ready to say goodbye to everything else, go slow, take your time, and listen to your body. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and there is no generally accepted definition of sobriety.
So then what? Do we have to accept them all? Well, just like it’s a good idea to accept all skin colors, it’s the same with defining sobriety. What really matters here is the person is trying to make a change. Even if the change is a mental thought form swirling in the brain, it still is something that exists.
We’re going to make this simple, at Recovery Elevator, we accept all versions of sober. We accept all versions of you.
***Taken from Recovery Elevator Podcast, episode 380, host Paul Churchill***