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Is Sobriety Worth It?

Dave Frank
WhiteFlag Chief Content Officer

I am four years sober. During that four years, I have noticed an interesting (and amusing to me, at least) trend. When someone who drinks discovers I'm sober, they love to discuss how "they've considered sobriety, and they COULD be if they wanted to, but they don't really drink all that much anyway. They've actually been drinking less than they used to, and they noticed they feel better!" - I couldn't say for sure, but I think that's a part of people's minds that truly wants to connect themselves to sobriety. I hold no judgement here, people can live as they choose. But it's an interesting trend, nonetheless. Sobriety can be discussed in great detail. I'm sure that, given enough time, arguments could be made for a life with or without sobriety. As a former addict, I like to simplify this into two very simple questions that I think should ask themselves, at least once:

What do you stand to gain or lose from sobriety?
What do you stand to gain or lose from a lack of it?
I, personally, was an addict. A bad one. What did I have to gain from sobriety? Everything. Anything. What did I have to lose? substances, a way out, and temporary comfort. The message I want to impress, however, is no one can answer those two questions honestly and come out with substances being the better option of the two. No one who's reading this that isn't currently participating in some form of sober living is going to be interested in 3,000 words of me preaching sobriety, so we're going to keep this one short. I'm fully aware there are folks out there who will lead happy lives with substances involved. Over 60% of the country's adults drink alcohol, and that's the only universally legalized thing available. I never push sobriety on anyone, but I find it incredibly interesting how sobriety is only a considered lifestyle for those who initially choose lifelong abstinence from substances from the beginning, or those who have completely destroyed themselves and have to rebuild.

And how could we? Alcohol holds a pillar in nearly every aspect of our lives. It's on billboards, it's in ads, it's in books, music, movies and TV, it's in stores, it's for the poverty-stricken, the working class and the rich, it's at weddings, it's at funerals, we christen ships with it, it's on airplanes, it's in boardrooms, it's in restaurants, it's in gas stations, it's at Disney parks, it's at company Christmas parties, there are entire establishments dedicated to it's sole consumption; the list goes on and on. In fact, we've reached a point where a lack of alcohol in public spaces is unusual. It fuels the zeitgeist of not only our public spaces, but our human interactions as well. We give it as gifts, we supply it at parties, we drink to gain courage, we drink to feel sexy, we drink to break the ice, we drink as a game, we drink watching the game, we drink to honor others, we drink to spite others, we drink to sing better, we drink when we're happy, we drink when we're sad, we drink if we're bored, we drink when we're exited, we drink to celebrate, we drink as a reward, we drink if we fail, we drink if we succeed, we drink to remember, we drink to forget; again, there isn't an end to alcohol's reach, and if you look at all of these on a case-by-case basis, it all seems completely normal.

But this is the culture we have developed. Years of marketing, advertising, normalizing and accepting alcohol into the fabric of our society has completely buried the even notion that life is livable without it. Sure, we all "could stop forever if we felt like it", but we don't. It's a choice we've made as a society, because we believe the benefits of substances outweigh their negatives.

After I got clean, my now-wife and I were planning our wedding. It was a delightful experience to have with her, but there was a moment where my face dropped and I realized, "I won't get to drink the ceremonial champagne with everyone else". That is not just the thought of an alcoholic, that is the echo of a culture run by booze. I am not telling you that you have to be sober, or even feel bad about yourself if you aren't. What I am trying to do, is to supply an alternative way of thinking to a culture that has been so deeply embedded in us for centuries, that we forgot why we would even consider life without drinking (or more).
Just for the sake of saying you did, truly take the time to contemplate the two simplest questions in all of recovery:

What do you stand to gain or lose from sobriety?
What do you stand to gain or lose from a lack of it?


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