“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but having the right to do as we ought’

Pope St John Paul II

Sobriety can be defined as:

  • The state of being sober (i.e. not using alcohol or mind-changing drugs)
  • The state of being grave or earnestly thoughtful, of knowing what you are doing and where you are going
  • The state of being calm and in control of your actions and thoughts, and having sound judgement
  • The state of moderation in your actions and behaviour, which are appropriate to where you are and who you are with • The state of modesty in language or dress.

In our present society, sobriety is often depicted as a negative, as “the end of the world”, with our lives over, in such a state that we’ll never have fun again. Sobriety requires delayed gratification,  discipline, and the formation of a new beneficial habit – all of which appear not to be currently trendy. Perhaps you won’t even hear the term used at all in modern parlance.

Sobriety is a virtue. It is not often spoken about, or covered by the media, Facebook, Twitter and the like. I have not heard it referred to in government policies, or in expert advice aimed at improving a person’s lifestyle.

Why is this so? Maybe it is because:

  • It sounds boring.
  • It means giving up something for a time.
  • It means forming new habits and disciplines – and this hurts.

Our economy is based on consumption; and if sobriety was shown to be “cool”, and dare I say, virtuous, maybe there is a fear that some businesses would not be viable. Perhaps less alcohol would be sold, perhaps fewer drugs would be ingested or perhaps reality TV shows would disappear.

In the new age of freedom, of “If it feels right, do it”, we seem to be becoming less responsible for what we imbibe, and consequently less accountable for our actions. Sure, there is jail and fines, and much money is spent on law enforcement and screening for drunk and drug-affected drivers; funds are used to find meth labs and cannabis plantations; yet, ultimately, despite some forms of meagre punishment and at huge public cost, no real attempts are made to determine why more and more people are using and becoming dependent on drugs.

By valuing the virtue of sobriety, we would need to “buck the trend”. We would need to feel some discomfort, some pain and a very strong desire to be in charge of our lives, to be responsible for our health and for becoming the best version of ourselves.

Our present conventional wisdom, although held with the best of good intentions, tends to pity people, to want us to feel sorry for them and to “go easy on them”, because of their poor upbringing, or poor family life; we are also shackled by political correctness, not to be too harsh or “bossy”.

Yet, the notion of acquiring a virtue and forming a better-disciplined life means putting up with some pain or some discomfort, and giving up something we want to do, so as to achieve something better.

Here are ten things that sobriety is not:

  1. Sobriety is not boring. It is anything but boring: it is exciting and it is freedom; it is freedom to choose, instead of being a slave to an addiction.
  2. Sobriety is not easy. Sobriety is a process and a life-long journey that takes hard work and dedication. However, the results are worth every second that you put into it.
  3. Sobriety is not the end of your life. Sobriety gives you your life back and allows you to construct a happier and healthier life.
  4. Sobriety is not a sign of weakness. You are not weak for admitting a problem; you are strong for making a great decision for your life.
  5. Sobriety is not the norm. We are constantly being fed advertisements that are geared towards drinkers that send us the message that we need to drink to numb emotions and cope with life. Being numb is not a life. It is not freedom. It is slavery of your true self.
  6. Sobriety is being honest.

We all have bad habits and behaviours and use bad language from time to time. Sobriety teaches us to be patient and to honour delayed gratification. It is a commitment to honesty, to faith, and to working through a lot of pain and discomfort.

Sobriety requires facing yourself head-on. It requires dedication and time. This is what peer pressure often deters you from doing.

I believe that many opinions that are poured forth daily in the media are deceptive. Public opinion generally is formed by the few who have access to the forums of mass communication and social media – to radio, TV, Facebook, Twitter and the like. Public opinion generally ignores the silent majority.

Gradually, day by day, our subconscious hears these opinions, and they become our truths, our opinions, unless we dare to question them.

I implore you to consider Sobriety and use the questions – Who, What, Why, When, Where, Who and How – to determine your own truths and find your own Freedom.