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Sobriety is More Than Abstinence

Updated: Oct 12, 2020




Sobriety is more than abstaining from our addiction. Recovery is the road to finding our wholeness, a road to connecting to our Higher Power and a full and happy life.

The first time I was sober I didn't do it with a program, but by pure self will. I didn’t understand the concept of recovery yet. This was about 15 years ago and I was beginning to be sick and tired of being sick and tired, but did not want to try the rooms of a 12-step program, as the thought of never drinking again was just too impossible to imagine. I had been trying to manage my drinking in various ways on and off for a while—only drinking on the weekends, only when we were out with friends, only drinking beer, only drinking wine, but I always came back to being a daily drinker. My step sister was in town. She’d been sober for a really long time and I was feeling inspired by her clarity and inner spark. We were sitting in the backyard of my friends house on a beautiful Colorado afternoon talking to someone I had never met. I was over-sharing as I often did about this ongoing dilemma of my drinking (and my husband’s drinking) he began to ask me deep questions, one was: why didn’t I just stop, even if my husband didn’t? At that moment, a switch flipped inside of me; I realized that I could do something about this problem that I had continued to believe was out of my control. I can’t explain what happened, although I would say it was a profound spiritual experience.


What I remember about that time, is that I felt physically better without the daily drinking in my life—but I was still overwhelmed by my then-young boys, working, and marriage. I was using my self-will to not drink and control all those things around me. Needless to say, I was restless and irritable. What I didn’t know then is that there is more to sobriety than abstinence. The key to finding serenity is surrendering control and stepping into a spiritual life and relying on my Higher Power, which means taking responsibility for my own life instead of wanting the world around me to be different.


So, after some time off from drinking with the “dry” technique,” it was just too painful to be in that place of unmanageability without the drink to take away the uncomfortable feelings and not yet identifying myself as an alcoholic, I of course believe that I could drink again as a normal drinker. That moment of awareness in the backyard had been lost, and the craving to find release, relaxation and fun in drinking was back and only continued to grow in me. It would be another 6 years before I finally walked into a room of a 12-step program for the first time.


I have thought many times about who I might be now if I had chosen recovery that day in the backyard, instead of having chosen to just take a “break.” That is a slippery slope, as regret is a powerful force that can keep us stuck from moving forward in the now. So I let that go, knowing that I am just where I am supposed to be today, and that recovery is about today—one day at a time as they say.


Being in recovery and doing the 12-step work has given me a path to understanding who I am and how I choose to interact with my life and the world around me. The gift of abstinence along with recovery has been a true gift indeed. I am now immersed in a Spiritual Life and feel connected to the God of my understanding. This life has given me serenity and finally happiness.

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