In my brief time with AA, I’ve known some amazing people who have been transformed from dangerously hostile con artists into kind, compassionate trustworthy AA members who work tirelessly with newbies that walk through the door. It’s hard to imagine that they once were destructive to family, friends and cohorts.
I’ve also known some alcoholics who disdain the AA program, but have stopped drinking and are dry–but not sober. Do you? You know, the one who still acts like he’s related to a rattlesnake? He has all the same alcoholic behaviors and attitudes, but has stopped drinking. He’s dry, not sober. One misstep and he strikes! The dry alcoholic has stopped drinking. Abstinence and the lack of the alcoholic stench is all he can claim. So what?
I’m glad for him that he doesn’t drink anymore. But he’s frozen in place. Nothing is any different. He’s not putting the liquid poison into his system but he’s still putting poison into his relationships. His liver is repairing, his brain is mending but his family is still being soaked in his toxic attitude and critical tirades. Dry, but not sober is still dangerously damaging.
Dry Drunk Behavior
- grandiose behavior
- constant critical comments
- judgmental mindset
- black and white thinking
- exaggerated view of self
- impatience and short fuse
- tantrum episodes
Sober behavior on the other hand, refers to the fruits of recovery that naturally follow from taking the 12 steps of the AA program. Sober means recovery. It means repairing the broken relationships, the broken psyche, the broken and short-circuited reactions to life.
AA’s Twelve Steps are principles for recovery. ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2012, p 574
When I started to work the steps, I started to recover. Recovery work is necessary to healing. I took the light of truth in hand and looked at myself. I stopped believing the world according to Heidi. It was uncomfortable and painful but healing. I recommend it because I know how it feels on both sides and being healed is infinitely better than not.
We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2012, p 75
If I wanted to stay angry with myself and hostile to those around me, I could have just kept drinking. I did not give up the bottle to live life like that. I like to be happy. This coming from one who, when drinking always said, happiness is overrated. I thought happiness was a myth and the state of the naively ignorant because I had no idea how to find it before AA.
Now I guard it as the treasure of my soul. What makes me happy is the feeling of being at peace with myself and with others.