Having a ‘drink problem’ can still be a slightly daunting phrase for someone to hear. Often much of the talk about the nature of the problem and the different ways to get sober come afterwards – in the first instance it is the need to seek help.
Getting sober is the first hurdle. The book Alcoholics Anonymous distinguishes between someone who is a heavy drinker and someone who is an alcoholic, suggesting that a heavy drinker may be able to stop on their own, albeit with a certain amount of difficulty, whilst someone who is an active alcoholic cannot.
Whilst problem drinking has been around for most of mankind’s history, it was only in the 1930’s that doctors began to talk about alcoholism as an illness. and people who suffered from it as alcoholics. There has been much debate ever since about the nature of alcoholism, and how it affects the person who suffers from it.
Whilst there can be clear advantages about understanding the clinical nature of alcoholism, this issue can also prove a bit of a trap for anyone trying to get sober. The problem arises because people feel the need to firstly understand what an alcoholic is and then decide whether or not they fit the profile as it were.
Other Addictions / Substances
As AA grew and people started to understand the nature of alcoholism and addiction, the principles of the twelve steps began to be applied to other addictions. Other fellowships such as Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous etc were established, along with many others.
Whilst each fellowship is unique to itself, many people often refer to themselves as being sober, whatever their addiction or recovery model. In this sense the word sober often has a broader meaning than simply not drinking.