By Patrick Mclemore
Common questions among alcoholics are: What is sobriety? What is recovery? What is the difference between
sobriety and recovery? What can I expect from either of them?
These are normal questions that nearly every recovering alcoholic has asked at one time or another. Let's start
with the first question.
What is sobriety? Technically speaking, you are sober if you don't have any chemicals in your system like
alcohol or drugs. But for the alcoholic, just being sober is not enough.
The reason is, and you may have experienced this yourself, being sober is not a solution to the problem. Most of
us alcoholics have been able to stay sober for brief periods of time. We were, at times, able to fend off the urge
to drink for days, months, and in some very rare cases, years.
But for the true alcoholic, the time will come when they drink again. So just being "sober" is not enough to
give us the happy and free life that we used to feel before the drinking got too bad.
The term "white-knuckling" or "dry" comes into play here. It's like holding on for dear life, our knuckles white
from the hard grip and our bodies feeling empty, hollow and dry. It is truly no way to live.
People who are just "sober" are sometimes worse to be around than when they were drinking; irritable, angry,
hateful, and full of rage. They are absolutely miserable.
They know they can't drink because it's caused too much damage in the past or maybe their spouse has given them
an ultimatum: "Quit drinking or I'm leaving you". Maybe the law is on top of them to stop.
So they quit and boy do they make everyone pay for it! Maybe the miserable one will throw in the martyr card for
good measure: "I gave up drinking and this is how you repay me"? Just being soberly dry is not enough to keep an
alcoholic away from the booze. There has to be something better to keep him/her sober...and happy.
What is Recovery? Recovery is where the sober alcoholic will find happiness, contentment and freedom. It
involves a support group and being with other people who are staying sober and living happy, purpose-filled lives.
Recovery is a "one day a time" process.
It seems a bit cliché but there is good reason behind it. An alcoholic who drinks almost everyday will find it
impossible to imagine quitting for the "rest of their lives". It's an overwhelming, self-defeating thought. "I
can't stay sober forever.
No way. I might as well get drunk". In comes the "24 hours a day" thought. We know you can't stay sober forever,
but can you stay sober just for the next 24 hours? The alcoholic, still alone and not accepting help will know they
can't do it.
But the ones who do accept help will find they can do it, one day at a time, for the rest of their lives. It is
a proven method that works and has worked for millions of alcoholics for over seventy years now.
Most sober alcoholics accept the fact that booze was just a symptom of their problem. The problem is ourselves
and the malady inside of us. So, we need something to fill in that huge hole inside that alcohol once filled.
The solution to that has to have meaning and can't be superficial or shallow. That solution is recovery. But
recovery can't be done alone.
It is done with people who were once just like us, hopelessly alcoholic and miserable, but have found a solution
to their problem. They no longer drink and are happy.
To an alcoholic who is still drinking, this seems impossible but it's true. If you are an alcoholic looking for
a solution to your problem, what do you have to lose?
Patrick McLemore is a recovering alcoholic and addict. Patrick has worked with the Manor House Recovery Center
for the last two years providing guidance to numerous recovering alcoholics and addicts.
If you would like more information on alcohol and drug addiction, you can find it here: Alcohol Rehab.
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