Read Living sober Online

Authors: Aa Services Aa Services,Alcoholics Anonymous

Tags: #Psychopathology, #Psychology, #Alcoholism - Treatment, #General, #Substance Abuse & Addictions, #Alcoholics Anonymous, #Drug Dependence, #Self-Help, #Addiction, #Alcoholism

Living sober



“...treatment primarily involves not taking a drink...”




Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., New York


Digitized Courtesy of

This is AA. General Service Conference-approved literature
Living Sober Copyright © 1975; 1998 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115 All rights reserved.

Mail address:

Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163

Forty‐first Printing, 2007

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS and AA. are registered trademarks® of

AA. World Services, Inc.

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 75-328153

ISBN 978-0-916856-04-5

About that title

Even the words "stay sober"—let alone
sober—offended many of us when we first heard such advice.

Although we had done a lot of drinking, many of us never felt drunk, and were sure we almost never appeared or sounded drunk. Many of us never staggered, fell, or got thick tongues; many others were never disorderly, never missed a day at work, never had automobile accidents, and certainly were never hospitalized nor jailed for drunkenness.

We knew lots of people who drank more than we did, and people who could not handle their drinks at all. We were not like that. So the suggestion that maybe we should "stay sober" was almost insulting.

Besides, it seemed unnecessarily drastic. How could we live that way? Surely, there was nothing wrong with a cocktail or two at a business lunch or before dinner. Wasn't everyone entitled to relax with a few drinks, or have a couple of beers before going to bed?

However, after we learned some of the facts about the illness called alcoholism, our opinions shifted. Our eyes have been opened to the fact that apparently millions of people have the disease of alcoholism.

Medical science does not explain its "cause," but medical experts on alcoholism assure us that any drinking at all leads to trouble for the alcoholic, or problem, drinker. Our experience overwhelmingly confirms this.

So not drinking at all—that is, staying sober—becomes the basis of recovery from alcoholism. And let it be emphasized: Living sober turns out to be not at all grim, boring, and uncomfortable, as we had feared, but rather something we begin to enjoy and find much more exciting than our drinking days. We'll show you how.



Using this booklet


Staying away from the first drink


Using the 24-hour plan


Remembering that alcoholism is an


progressive, fatal disease


"Live and Let live"

6 Getting



Using the Serenity Prayer


Changing old routines


Eating or drinking something—usually,


10 Making use of "telephone therapy"

11 Availing

yourself of a sponsor

12 Getting plenty of rest

13 "First Things First"

14 Fending



15 Watching out for anger and resentments

16 Being good to yourself

17 Looking out for over-elation

18 "Easy



19 Being


20 Remembering your last drunk

21 Avoiding dangerous drugs and medications

22 Eliminating


23 Seeking professional help

24 Steering clear of emotional entanglements

25 Getting out of the "if trap

26 Being wary of drinking occasions

27 Letting go of old ideas

28 Reading the AA message

29 Going to AA meetings

30 Trying the Twelve Steps

31 Finding your own way


Some questions often asked by new non drinkers— and pages that offer some answers
What do I say and do at a drinking party?

Should I keep liquor in the house?

How do I explain to people why I'm not drinking now?

What about sex?

What about insomnia?

What about drinking dreams?

Should I go into bars?

What can I do when I get lonely?

As long as I'm happy, am I safe?

Should I seek professional help?

Is it necessary to give up old companions and habits?

Why 'not drinking'?

We members of Alcoholics Anonymous see the answer to that question when we look honestly at our own past lives. Our experience clearly proves that any drinking at all leads to serious trouble for the alcoholic, or problem drinker. In the words of the American Medical Association: Alcohol, aside from its addictive qualities, also has a psychological effect that modifies thinking and reasoning. One drink can change the thinking of an alcoholic so that he feels he can tolerate another, and then another, and another....

The alcoholic can learn to completely control his disease, but the affliction cannot be cured so that he can return to alcohol without adverse consequences.*

And we repeat: Somewhat to our surprise, staying sober turns out not to be the grim, wet-blanket experience we had expected! While we were drinking, a life without alcohol seemed like no life at all.

But for most members of AA, living sober is
living—a joyous experience. We much prefer it to the troubles we had with drinking.

One more note: anyone
can get
sober. We have all done it lots of times. The trick is to stay and to

That is what this booklet is about

* From an official statement issued July 31, 1964

1 Using this booklet

This booklet does
offer a plan for recovery from alcoholism. The Alcoholics Anonymous Steps that summarize its program of recovery are set forth in detail in the books
Alcoholics Anonymous
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
. Those Steps are not interpreted here, nor are the processes they cover discussed in this booklet

Here, we tell only some methods we have used for living
drinking. You are welcome to all of them, whether you are interested in Alcoholics Anonymous or not.

Our drinking was connected with many habits—big and little. Some of them were thinking habits, or things we felt inside ourselves. Others were doing habits—things we did, actions we took.

In getting used to not drinking, we have found that we needed new habits to take the place of those old ones.

(For example, instead of taking that next drink—the one in your hand or the one you've been planning on—can you just postpone it until you read to the bottom of page 6? Sip some soda or fruit juice, instead of an alcoholic beverage, while you read. A little later, well explain more fully what's behind this change in habits.)

After we spent a few months practicing these new, sober habits or ways of acting and thinking, they became almost second nature to most of us, as drinking used to be. Not drinking has become natural and easy, not a long, dreary struggle.

These practical, hour-by-hour methods can easily be used at home, at work, or in social gatherings.

Also included here are several things we have learned
to do, or to avoid. These were things that, we now see, once tempted us to drink or otherwise endangered our recovery.

We think you'll find many or even all of the suggestions discussed here valuable in living sober, with comfort and ease. There is nothing significant about the order in which the booklet presents them. They can be rearranged in any way you like that
Nor is this a complete listing.

Practically every AA member you meet can give you at least one more good idea not mentioned here. And you will probably come up with brand-new ones that work for you. We hope you pass them on to others who can also profit by them.

AA as a fellowship does not formally endorse nor recommend for all alcoholics every line of action included here. But each practice mentioned has proved useful to some members, and may be helpful to you.

This booklet is planned as a handy manual for consulting from time to time, not something to be read straight through just once, then forgotten.

Here are two cautions which have proved helpful:

Keep an open mind.
Perhaps some of the suggestions offered here will not appeal to you. If that is the case, we have found that, instead of rejecting them forever, it's a better idea to just set them aside for the time being. If we don't close our minds to them permanently, we can always go back later on and try out ideas we didn't like before—if we want to.

For instance, some of us found that, in our initial non-drinking days, the suggestions and comradeship offered by an AA sponsor helped us greatly to stay sober. Others of us waited until we had visited many groups and met many AA's before we finally called on a sponsor's help.

Some of us found formal prayer a strong aid in not drinking, while others fled from anything that suggested religion. But all of us are free to change our minds on these ideas later if we choose.

Many of us found that the sooner we started work on the Twelve Steps offered as a program of recovery in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous," the better. Others of us felt the need to postpone this until we had been sober a little while.

The point is, there is no prescribed AA "right" way or "wrong" way. Each of us uses what is best for himself or herself—without closing the door on other kinds of help we may find valuable at another time. And each of us tries to respect others' rights to do things differently.

Sometimes, an AA member will talk about taking the various parts of the program in cafeteria style—selecting what he likes and letting alone what he does not want. Maybe others will come along and pick up the unwanted parts—or maybe that member himself will go back later and take some of the ideas he previously rejected.

However, it is good to remember the temptation in a cafeteria to pick up nothing but a lot of desserts or starches or salads or some other food we particularly like. It serves as an important reminder to us to keep a balance in our lives.

In recovering from alcoholism, we found that we needed a
diet of ideas, even if some of them did not look, at first, as enjoyable as others. Like good food, good ideas did us no good unless we made intelligent use of them. And that leads to our second caution.

Use your common sense.
We found that we have to use plain everyday intelligence in applying the suggestions that follow.

Like almost any other ideas, the suggestions in this booklet can be misused. For example, take the notion of eating candy. Obviously, alcoholics with diabetes, obesity, or blood-sugar problems have had to find substitutes, so they would not endanger their health, yet could still get the benefit of the candy-eating
in recovery from alcoholism. (Many nutritionists favor protein-rich snacks over sweets as a general practice.) Also, it's not good for anybody to overdo this remedy. We should eat balanced meals in addition to the candy.

Another example is the use of the slogan "Easy Does It." Some of us have found that we could abuse this sensible notion, turning it into an excuse for tardiness, laziness, or rudeness. That is not, of course, what the slogan is intended for. Properly applied, it can be healing; misapplied, it can hinder our recovery. Some among us would add to it: "'Easy Does It'—but do it!"

It's clear that we have to use our intelligence in following any advice. Every method described here needs to be used with good judgment.

One more thing. AA does not pretend to offer scientific expertise on staying sober. We can share with you only our own personal experience, not professional theories and explanations.

So these pages offer no new medical shortcuts on how to stop drinking if you are still doing it, nor any miraculous secrets for shortening or avoiding a hangover.

Sometimes, getting sober can be done on your own at home; but frequently, prolonged drinking has caused such serious medical problems that you would be better advised to seek medical or hospital help for drying out. If you are that seriously ill, you may need such professional services before you can possibly be interested in what we offer here.

Many of us who were not that sick, however, have sweated it out in the company of other AA.

members. Because we have been through it ourselves, we can often help—in a layman's way—to relieve some of the misery and suffering. At least, we understand. We have been there.

So this booklet is about
drinking (rather than about
drinking). It's about living sober.

We have found that for us recovery
with not drinking—with getting sober and staying completely free of alcohol in any amount, and in any form. We have also found that we have to stay away from other mind-changing drugs. We can move toward a full and satisfying life only when we stay sober. Sobriety is the launching pad for our recovery.

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