My take on the word ‘sober’

It’s sad that doing something that is good for you, (i.e. cutting out alcohol), turning your life around and calling yourself ‘sober’ can be met with such negative connotations.

Quitting alcohol has been the best thing I’ve ever done – but for a long time, in the beginning, I avoided telling people that I was sober, mainly because I’ve noticed that the word ‘sober’ can be met with a barrage of questions and a lot of assumptions very quickly made about you. The term ‘sober’ seems to conjure up images of sombre meetings in dark rooms, damaged relationships and AA coins.

As I began my own sobriety journey, I slowly realised just how rampant these damaging misconceptions were. For one, these misconceptions prevented me from getting sober sooner. If I had known that my life wouldn’t be over when I quit drinking and I didn’t need to hit a ‘rock bottom’ to turn my life around, I would have done it a lot sooner.

The most common questions I have had when telling someone I am sober are:

  • ‘WHY?’

  • ‘What do you do for fun then?’

  • ‘So, you don’t drink, ever? Why not?’

  • ‘You can still have a glass of wine every now and then right? It’s not like you’re an addict.’

  • ‘Are you in AA?’

  • ‘Were you an alcoholic then?’

Firstly, I want to say that people who drink are so much more than the word “alcoholic”. They are daughters and sons, husbands and wives, teachers, lawyers, parents, authors, and creators. Addiction knows no bounds, it doesn’t discriminate based on your age, sex, wealth, background, colour or career and I don’t think it’s at all helpful to see someone just as a label or to pigeonhole someone in this way. Labels are for folders, not human beings with multi-dimensional experiences.

It’s important to remember that you know the true story behind why you’ve decided to quit drinking. It doesn’t matter if you were a clinically diagnosed alcoholic, someone who drank once a week but could never stop at just one drink, or if you drank a glass of wine every night but didn’t want to anymore. The point is that you felt that alcohol was no longer serving you, it was a problem, so you made a change and cut it out of your life, you shouldn’t have to ever justify why you are sober.

Secondly, and this may come as a surprise to some, just because someone is sober does not mean that they have suddenly stopped living or having any fun at all! There’s the biggest misconception that if you’re sober, you aren’t fun, you won’t be able to enjoy your life to the fullest and you’ll have trouble forming relationships, and it’s just not true.

When you’re sober, your life doesn’t end. In fact, for me, it felt like it was just beginning. I’ve made tons of new relationships with other sober people, had more opportunities to enjoy the things I love with a clear mind, and had less drama and problems that can seem to follow you around when alcohol is involved.

People believe myths surrounding a lot of things, but myths about sobriety and recovery can be especially damaging. These myths can unfortunately lead people with an alcohol problem to feel like there is no point in trying to get sober.

I believed these myths for a long time before I started my journey to sobriety. It was only when I stopped listening to these myths that I started to heal, repair my life, and build meaningful relationships with other people.

I think it’s so important that we break the stigma around the word ‘sober’ and show people that having a sober life can be just as fulfilling if not more so, than before. Being sober does not have to mean you are boring, dull, solemn, or sombre, it equally doesn’t have to mean that you have alcohol misuse issues, or must have woken up every day and drank in the morning. Whatever your reason for being sober, it is personal to you and shouldn’t be stigmatised. These are the kind of stigmas that stop people from talking about their sobriety and it needs to change.

By exposing the truth about sobriety, other people who think sobriety isn’t for them might change their minds – allowing them a safe place to heal.

Written by Sarah

info about Sarah

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