On Being Sober: What Life is Like After Alcohol

When you are in active addiction you will have moments where you long to be different, where you long to have long-term sobriety and wonder what life after alcohol is like.

You might have these moments of clarity after hurting someone you love or going to jail for a DWI. Regardless, a time emerges when you see your addicted alcoholic life is not working anymore.

You know you have a drinking problem. Your struggle with alcohol has alienated you from social life and caused problems with family members.

For the alcoholic or addict who still suffers, being sober is a great unknown. It’s extremely uncertain, something alcoholics and addicts don’t handle well to begin with.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous has the ninth step promises, which explains that you will not wish to shut the door on your past and you will know a new freedom.

Here they are in full:

The Promises

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

Big Book pages 83 & 84

Copyright © Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

Sounds good doesn’t it?

But what does that look like in real life? Here’s a list of four ways life will be different that hopefully show you what sobriety is like.

  1. You can be honest. We addicts and alcoholics stay in a position of deception and manipulation. We lie and steal from others so we can get high or drunk. We simply don’t tell the truth. We do it so much it becomes a habitual habit. We also lie to ourselves. Think about how you or a loved one is using. Is it really normal? Is it a normal life? If you’re an alcoholic or addict, you may not be able to differentiate the true from the false. Your life as an addict or alcoholic might seem normal. It’s not. Life can be so much better than what situation your are in now.

2. You can care for others. Let’s be honest, when you’re trying to get high, who are you thinking about? Are you thinking about your kids in the next room? Are you thinking about how this may harm someone who loves you? Even if we have the thought, the emotion doesn’t have enough power to sustain us. We’re going to get high. We’re going to drink. When you are sober and free from addiction, you can begin being present. You can start being there for the kids in the next room.

3. You actually have emotions. Just thinking about this can cause anxiety. You’re going to feel more deeply. You will need to learn to take care of your sadness, anger, guilt, shame. You’ll also need to learn to handle joy, happiness, freedom, forgiveness, trust and love. If you get sober without help, this is going to be challenging. If you’re a chronic relapser and have been drinking and using for a while, it’s going to be difficult to manage emotions. We drink and use because we like it’s effect. We are looking to change how we feel. When sober, we learn to manage these emotions in a healthy manner.

4. Life still happens. Life still throws things that only life can throw at you. You might still get fired from a job. You might be with the wrong person in sobriety. The list is an endless list of possibilities. Life is going to happen. The big difference however is that you will be present. You will be available to the people you love. Instead of getting high and not being useful, you will be in a position to help your family and loved ones. You will also intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle you.

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