What Does It Take to Get Sober? 3 People Share How They Coped

sober alcoholic meaning

If you know you have a drinking problem, but cannot stay sober without falling off the wagon, then going cold turkey is not the path. Recovery is a long process, and you should not do it without getting help and support. The term alcoholic is still used alongside sober to show that the addiction still needs to be treated. However, you will be able to maintain a great degree of self-control and better values on your journey to sobriety. McCoy, 45, said his use of heroin, meth and alcohol caused him to shuttle between homelessness and jail until finding sobriety – and sticking with it − through a harm reduction program more than 14 years ago. He sees the approach as a valuable tool to get addicts into recovery and eventually abstinence but realizes the backlash it can evoke.

Find Balance in Your Life

“Sober curious” is a recent term used to describe a group of people curious about drinking less alcohol but not yet committed to abstinence, or only practicing sobriety for a short period of time. If you believe you might have a drinking problem or want additional help to abstain from alcohol, how long does a hangover last consider talking to your doctor or a mental health professional. Your doctor can supervise your detox, recommend treatment options, and refer you to local resources in your area that can help. They can also prescribe medications that can help with withdrawal, cravings, and abstinence.

NHTSA is dedicated to eliminating risky behaviors on our nation’s roads

We independently review and approve all products and services recommended on our site. Our goal is to recommend the best available information we can find as of the time our articles are updated. For some items, we may receive a commission if you make a purchase following links from our site. Any commissions received are at no additional cost to you, and help to offset our cost to research and operate this site. Mental illnesses, past traumatic events, and stress are common examples of challenges that can lead to addiction.

Phase 4: Way of Life—When the Feet Are Trapped and the Wings Are Covered by Syrup

sober alcoholic meaning

Let’s explore the four stages of alcohol misuse and how we can recognize the signs. If you’re involved in a 12-step program, you likely already know the importance of milestones. In these programs, it’s customary to receive plastic chips as you progress to the one-year mark, at which time you receive a bronze coin. Most people who make their way into recovery have left a lot of pain and suffering in their wake. Feeling guilty or ashamed of past behavior or actions during active addiction is natural and healthy.

Identify Your Triggers

“The importance of restoring a healthy brain through an optimal diet is often overlooked, and eating seafood rich in omega-3 fat may be especially helpful,” shares Dr. Umhau. People who are wondering if they have a problem often try to go without alcohol for a month or set limits on how much they drink. The most helpful activities are often ones that you know provide meaning, enjoyment, or a sense of mastery. These help boost mood and focus your attention away from urges to drink. Many aspects of some cultures revolve around alcohol — networking events, date nights, celebratory champagne toasts — so it isn’t always easy to avoid alcohol entirely. The fly noticed itself slipping deeper into the pitch, but a few more sips seemed okay – after all, the fly has wings and could fly out any time.

A beautiful, vibrant pitcher plant stands out in the tropical forest, its sweet nectar irresistibly attracting unsuspecting insects. A fly, captivated by the plant’s charm, lands on the rim and begins to sip the nectar. Yet, little does the fly know, the inner walls of the pitcher are coated with a slippery, waxy substance. As the fly slowly ventures deeper into the tube, it starts to lose its footing. The fly struggles to escape, but only slides deeper into the plant’s tubular body.

In reality, you have to maintain your sober state if you want to progress your recovery. However, sobriety is much more than refusing to drink for a few months or a few years. It’s a lifelong journey towards healing and total control over your addiction. Traditional treatment, espoused alcohol withdrawal by Alcoholics Anonymous and the Salvation Army, among others, is based on abstinence. Linde said that focus sometimes leads to a rigid mentality among those whose lives have benefited from absolute sobriety and see it as the only way to overcome alcohol use disorder (AUD).

“One truth about risk in people is that we all do a very poor job of assessing our own risk,” he said. He added that he had grown concerned about claims from new cannabis and psychedelic ventures as they compete for business. “They know exactly who they are targeting, and those people who are being targeted are misassessing their risk,” he said. Addiction specialists say the legal status of cannabis and psychedelics has made it hard to rigorously study their risks and medicinal potential, even as more people turn to them to self-medicate. Psychedelic trips can be psychologically destabilizing, they say, and in rare cases have triggered psychotic episodes.

Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how to avoid repeating mistakes and build better habits. John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Maya Richard-Craven, a journalist from Pasadena, California, said she has thought a lot about mitigating risk since she went to rehab in 2019 after her alcohol use became a problem.

So, as long as you drink alcohol, there’s always a chance that you could begin to drink more than you should. Usually, people like this refuse to continue drinking after experiencing bad days or the side effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, while some people succeed in getting clean by following this step, others sink deeper into alcoholism. Being a sober alcoholic means, you have identified drinking as a pattern you don’t want to continue practicing. It is a stepping stone that differentiates sober alcoholics from casually sober people. Being sober comes with being clear-headed and being able to act appropriately.

Drinking in moderation does come with some benefits, especially if you’re reaching for resveratrol-rich red wine, but it will always be a better option to drink less or not at all. Jeanette Hu, AMFT, based in California, is a former daily drinker, psychotherapist, and Sober Curiosity Guide. She supports individuals who long for a better relationship with alcohol, helping them learn to drink less without living less. Like the fly that was drawn to the pitcher plant by its sweet smell and vibrant color, our curiosity for alcohol begins with a harmless, even glamorous, impression of what the liquid in the bottle represents. One day, curiosity turns into the first sip—the harmless first taste.

  1. For most states in the United States, the alcohol limit to legally drive a vehicle for drivers aged 21 or older is currently 0.08% BAC.
  2. The medical definition of sobriety refers to a natural state of physical health in which a person’s brain and body are unaffected by the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  3. Of those motorcycle riders, 1,705 (29%) were drunk (BAC of .08 g/dL or higher).
  4. This can allow you to treat the symptoms of your mental health disorder without turning to alcohol or drugs.
  5. In reality, you have to maintain your sober state if you want to progress your recovery.

The next step is to think about what being sober curious might mean in your life. For example, it might mean giving up alcohol for a period of time, such as participating in Dry January, or it might involve gradually decreasing your alcohol use. It might also mean limiting yourself to a single drink once each week when you are out with friends or replacing your usual cocktail with a non-alcohol option. “The sober curious movement has led people to see the unhealthy habits that can go hand in hand with alcohol consumption,” she says. If you’re a heavy drinker, it’s important that you stop drinking under the care of your doctor or an addiction specialist. It’s likely that you’ll experience some withdrawal symptoms, especially if you’ve developed a dependency on alcohol.

‘Sober curious’ tends to mean something different to every sober curious individual, making it an inclusive cultural movement. By Julia Childs Heyl, MSWJulia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and are toads poisonous to humans vet-approved safety facts and faq uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.

There’s a chance your doctor may order blood work to check your liver function if you show signs or symptoms of liver disease. Some people may drink alcohol to the point that it causes problems, but they’re not physically dependent on alcohol. Alcoholism, referred to as alcohol use disorder, occurs when someone drinks so much that their body eventually becomes dependent on or addicted to alcohol. Cutting habits out can be difficult, especially alcohol, since it’s such a social substance.

sober alcoholic meaning

That’s because alcohol can weaken your immune system, slow healing and make your body more susceptible to infection. Heavy drinking can also lead to a host of health concerns, like brain damage, heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver and even certain kinds of cancer. You can prevent alcohol use disorder by limiting your alcohol intake. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, women shouldn’t drink more than one drink per day, and men shouldn’t drink more than two drinks per day. You may need to seek treatment at an inpatient facility if your addiction to alcohol is severe. These facilities will provide you with 24-hour care as you withdraw from alcohol and recover from your addiction.

Before you completely cut out alcohol, try taking a moment or two to think about how your relationship with alcohol has changed over the years and where it stands today. “Most people find more power in themselves as they grow confident handling stress, sleep, and social situations without relying on alcohol,” he says. We with loved ones who have become addicted will get used to the shift and the new definition. Sarah Allen Benton, M.S., LMHC., LPC, is a licensed mental health counselor and author of Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic. For those on Moderation Management plans, that means no more than 4 drinks in one sitting for men and 3 drinks in one sitting for women.