Sober recovery will normally mean getting sober and clean in the context of alcoholism or an addiction, as opposed to someone who simply gives up drink for a few weeks or a month as part of a cleansing regime.
Recovery refers to the understanding that alcoholism is an illness, and that getting and staying sober is normally a long-term process that requires ongoing work and solutions.
The Road Ahead – What Does it Mean to be Sober?
People normally talk about getting sober in the context of someone who has a problem with alcohol or drugs.
Historically, being sober would refer to someone who had stopped drinking for any reason, or simply didn’t drink.
However, the term sober has been broadened over the years and is nowadays also used by people who are in recovery from any type of addiction or substance abuse issue.
Alcoholics Anonymous, often referred to simply as AA, is probably the best known vehicle for people who want to stop drinking and get sober.
There are meetings all over the world, meetings online through zoom, and a huge amount of literature detailing AA’s experience, much of which is available as a free pdf download from AA’s site in the USA.
Sober Solutions – Recovery Tools
Sober solutions are also known as recovery tools. These can refer to a wide range of internal and external mechanisms that people can help them get through difficult times and stay sober.
They might include elements of a 12 step program such as taking inventory, prayer, going to a meeting, calling another person in recovery etc.
What is Long Term Sobriety?
For some people long-term sobriety is a week, for other people it can be 30 or 40 years.
Some people are very insistent that being sober is a day at a time, others see it as a valuable statement that 12-step recovery works, proven by the fact that people can stay sober for long periods of time.
It can sometimes come a bit of a status issue, and people generally react unfavourably to this.
What is Emotional Sobriety?
Emotional Sobriety is a phrase widely used in 12 step recovery. It generally refers to the ‘work’ that needs to be done regarding the underlying emotional problems that fuel someone’s alcoholism / addiction.
This ‘work’ normally relates to the 12 step program, therapy, prayer, meditation, retreats, inner child work, in fact anything that someone’s finds helpful.
Tips for Staying Sober
Tips for not drinking are normally practical things people can do on a daily basis to help them avoid the temptation of having a drink.
These can include simple things like having a plan for the day, going to a meeting, reading a piece of literature, avoiding places where alcohol is being served etc. There are many practical hints and suggestions in the book Living Sober, published by Alcoholics Anonymous.
Clean and Sober
Clean and sober is a phrase normally used by people who have had a problem or addiction with some type of drug or narcotic.
Getting clean is a phrase often used by people in Narcotics Anonymous, as opposed to people in Alcoholics Anonymous who normally refer to themselves as getting sober.
People who are in dual fellowships often use both expressions, or people simply use the phrase as a way of confirming they are free of any type of substance they may have been addicted to.
There are a number of discussion forums online specifically aimed at people in recovery who would like to talk about ongoing or historical issues.
These forums largely predate Facebook groups which are perhaps more common nowadays, but these groups have a loyal following and are very useful for anyone who doesn’t like Facebook – see resources page
Smart recovery is perhaps the best-known of the non-12-step approaches to dealing with the problem of addiction and sobriety.
It has grown out of a need by people to access a different method of getting sober who either do not want the AA model, or perceive it as being too God centred, an approach which they are unable to use.
SOS stands for secular organisations for sobriety, which is a slightly loose collective name for a significant number of recovery programs that are alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step groups.
A number of these have grown up over the years for the reasons stated above, and with the benefit of the internet and online meetings can be explored relatively safely to assess their benefit.
Before the advent of the internet, there was a sort of underground market of what were known as speaker tapes.
These were cassette tapes of people who spoke at conventions, both AA and Al-Anon, and other 12-step fellowships. They were quite difficult to get hold of and were done largely through mail order.
The internet changed that dramatically. Podcasts rapidly became available and now cover a huge range of speakers, including many of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.
It is worth being cautious that some older sites hosting mp3 files can contain malware, so care should be taken before downloading any software from the sites.
Dating people has always been a slightly contentious issue in recovery. It is often assumed that some people are so damaged emotionally when they stop drinking that they find it difficult to form a meaningful relationship with someone else.
Like many things in recovery this is a broad generalisation that contains an element of truth, but should never be a golden rule.
People will find that their level of emotional stability, after a week, a month or 10 years. It takes what it takes and only individuals can gauge their own needs.
There are also some sober dating sites around, but as with any dating site, caution should be exercised.
A sober calculator is simply an online tool where someone enters the date they got sober, and the calculator works out how many days they had been sober since then.
It is a bit of a fun thing to do that some people like. People who are sober often refer to the process as a day at a time, and as such often like to see how many days or years this adds up to in total.
Sober Coach / Recovery Coach
The idea of a sober or recovery coach has grown largely out of the life coaching industry.
What services are normally offered by such a coach often replicate what many people will find in 12 step fellowships, either with a sponsor, a mentor or simply a group of friends, which are of course free.
The idea of a recovery coach often appeals to people who don’t want to be involved in Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step groups, or to people who it feels gives them an additional advantage in recovery.
The idea of sober companions is a slightly simplified idea of a sober coach or recovery coach, and is normally someone who is simply there for someone else in early recovery.
Again this is a common feature of recovery in 12 step programs, and may have some limited benefit, but often comes at quite a cost financially.
Quotes that people find helpful often come from either books of Alcoholics Anonymous, daily reading books or books written by spiritual or religious people.
The other source of useful quotes tend to be people who are motivational speakers, either current or historical. People often like these quotes on a daily basis as it can act as a thought reminder.
People often carry these quotes around with them on a bit of paper, or on their smartphone, so they can refer to it during the day
Living Sober book pdf
The book Living Sober is a publication by Alcoholics Anonymous that gives a significant number of practical tips around staying sober, largely borne out of the experience of AA members over many years.
Hard copies can be purchased, but it is also available as a free PDF from the AA website
Being curious about sobriety is a slightly odd expression, but has grown up in the context of other types of behaviour as being referred to as curious, giving people the freedom to explore what it means, without being committed to it as a definite reality.
In truth this doesn’t really matter if people want to explore what it’s like to not drink then that can be really helpful,
depending upon how they do it and what help they access.
1 year chip
In sobriety terms, a chip is a type of coin that can be given to people to signify how long they had been clean. The chip can have on it a number of days or a number of years depending upon the persons length of sobriety.
Some people like these as they can carry them around in their pocket or on their key chains as a constant reminder not only of their sobriety, but also how long it is since their last drink.
Myths – does milk stop you getting drunk etc
People are always looking for ways either to avoid hangovers, or to sober up quickly if they had been drunk day or night before.
There are a huge number of anecdotal methods of doing this, which some people will swear work, but most people think simply act as a bit of window dressing.
The most common ones are things like drinking milk before a lot of alcohol, eating peppermints afterwards, deep breathing before being breathalysed etc.
Most people in recovery will acknowledge the importance and value of having friends who also sober.
These friends can either be members of Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step groups, or simply friends of theirs who for whatever reason do not drink, or only drink very occasionally.
The value of friends who are also in recovery does also have an additional benefit, mainly in the sense of a common bond that seems to unite them.
Being Sober Sucks
People often like to paint a picture of how wonderful life is in sobriety.
This can sometimes be done in a very evangelical way generally that tends to put people off, and ignores the reality that many people struggle with being sober, many often for a quite a long time.
When someone gets sober, they are normally always faced with some degree of emotional instability, which can often be expressed through a combination of deep levels of anger and fear.
These underlying emotional drives can take some time to process and stabilise, as long as the person stay sober in the meantime.
The danger of being evangelical about how wonderful sobriety is, is that it makes people feel they should be different to how they are, and does not allow them a safe space to be themselves.
The real value of being sober lies in self acceptance, and the freedom that comes with that then allows acceptance of other people, and acceptance of their freedom to be themselves and have their own path to being happy joyous and free.