Sober is NOT WellNov 07, 2023
Is it enough for an alcoholic to abstain from drinking alcohol?
Or the porn addict to refrain from viewing pornography?
Is sobriety a reliable indicator success?
On page 130 of the Sexaholics Anonymous White Book, it states “Sober is Not Well.”
Alcoholics Anonymous uses the term Dry Drunk to describe an addict who has stopped consuming alcohol but has made no progress towards emotional, mental and spiritual health.
Instead, they substitute their "drug of choice" with an alternative chemical or behavior that serves the same (dys)function in their psyche.
After AA meetings, it's common to find many sober addicts outside smoking to calm their nerves.
While they may be sober (from alcohol), they have likely swapped addictions and have yet to address the underlying emotions that drive the use of both alcohol and nicotine.
The same principle applies for the porn/sex addict. While they may boast of being "porn free" or "clean" for X number of days, it's possible they have only replaced one addiction with another.
Here are some examples from betrayed women who could tell something still wasn't quite right, even though their husbands hadn't viewed porn in months:
- He now goes to the gym every day.
- He pressures me for sex more often.
- He's suddenly getting projects done around the house.
- He started using marijuana or increased his frequency.
- He started volunteering at church multiple nights a week.
- He enrolled in a graduate program out of the blue.
- He's staying later at work and working on the weekends now.
While of themselves these things aren't necessarily bad, if they occur after cutting out pornography and/or masturbation, they can very well be acting as replacement addictions. This is especially likely if there has been little to no emotional, mental and spiritual growth.
Similarly, if there are no significant improvements in the marriage dynamics, then it is likely that these behaviors are being used in addictive ways.
To simply abstain from viewing pornography or masturbating is not enough. Viewing abstinence alone as the goal is to miss the deeper issue of what's driving the addictive behavior in the first place.
Sobriety vs Recovery
While sobriety is one metric of change, it is not a sufficient metric to measure health.
The following quote from an anonymous author described Sobriety vs Recovery this way:
“When Alcoholics Anonymous first started up, in the 1930’s, before it had even adopted that name, they were not about “getting sober” or “stopping drinking”. It was about recovering from the life-threatening malady of alcoholism…The Big Book doesn’t talk much about sobriety or getting sober – it talks about recovery from alcoholism. It talks about the necessity of having a spiritual experience in order to achieve sustainable recovery from alcoholism.
“There became two types of alcoholic in AA. There was the “sober” alcoholic, who was able to maintain “sobriety” by going to meetings regularly, and didn’t really need to have the spiritual “recovery.” Then there was the “recovered” alcoholic, who went through the 12 Step process, as outlined in the Big Book, usually with the guidance of a group or a sponsor. There were a few who would have an almost instantaneous “awakening,” where the realization that a power greater than themselves could heal their problem would occur, but these were the exception. Most experienced the recovery process gradually, as they progressed through the Steps.
“Sobriety means nothing to me. It’s empty, it’s a date, it represents 17 jobs in 4 years, loneliness, depression, quiet desperation. Recovery means life, abundance, as the Big Book puts it, being ‘rocketed into a 4th dimension of existence, beyond our wildest dreams.’ That is where I live today, each day.”
Notice the drastic difference between the two types of alcoholics. The same dichotomy exists with porn/sex addicts.
Some believe sobriety alone is the end goal. Others pursue a more transformative experience.
It's hard to comprehend the "life and abundance" of that "4th dimension" the author described without experiencing it first hand. However, doing so is necessary for long-term healing and genuine freedom.
And remember, while sobriety is a good step in the right direction... Sober Is NOT Well!
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