Sobriety vs Abstinence

Many people who come to us have stopped drinking numerous times. The problem tends to be staying stopped and developing a life that has spiritual, mental and emotional growth. Putting down the drink is the beginning, rather than the end, of the process. Simply being abstinent and not in a program of recovery is difficult not only for the alcoholic but for those arounc him/her. The racing mind, anxiety about the future, a sense of disconnect and irritability which are the hallmarks of active alcoholism are still present without the escape hatch of drunkenness or passing out providing temporary relief. This tension quickly presents a choice; return to drinking or seek help.

Brother Francis Crotty passed along a quote that perfectly captures this dilemma: "The man I was will always drink". Sobriety is more than abstinence. At its best it combines fellowship with others seeking growth, healing and connection while staying away from the drink on a daily basis. Sobriety requires change and growth.

I'm usually at a loss for a simple answer when someone asks what we "do" at Alcohol Services. Perhaps it could be best summed up by being kindly honest and inviting to people while they discover that stopping drinking is not the end of life but the beginning. Sobriety beats abstinence any way you look at it.