Some men and women try to stretch the meaning of sobriety. For instance, people might feel that if they were once addicted to cocaine and recover from cocaine, but continue to drink alcohol that they are still sober. And others believe that if they drink without getting drunk, then they too are sober. However, many sober communities believe that sobriety is the absence of using any and all substances – regardless of how much you drink or use drugs. And there are reasons why keeping to this definition of sobriety is important.

The primary reason why sobriety means abstinence is because it’s dangerous for a recovering addict to get near substances. And this is especially true if a person hasn’t developed the coping skills to manage their life stresses. If in the past a person relied upon substances when anxious, stressed, or fearful as a means to cope, then it’s especially important to stay abstinent. The use of substances after having been sober is considered to be relapse, and this in turn might lead a person to regular use of drugs or drinking again. Furthermore, if a person is vulnerable to addiction to one substance, there’s a good chance that they might be vulnerable to other substances. For all these reasons and more, it’s best for a recovering addict to stay away from all substances. This is true sobriety.

However, there are some recovery programs that focus on moderation versus abstinence. In other words, there are some people who feel that they don’t want to give up their drinking or drug use entirely, but instead, want to keep using in moderation. If a person wanted to drink moderately, then perhaps he or she would want to drink without getting drunk. Yet, in most cases, if a person who was once addicted to alcohol believes that staying sober means drinking but not getting drunk, perhaps there is a hint of denial. A person might be telling themselves that drinking is okay as long as they’re not getting drunk. If this is an excuse to drink, then perhaps they will also begin to tell themselves that getting drunk just once or twice per week is still a safe way to drink.

You might see how stretching the definition of sobriety can become quite risky. You might see that doing so may be a way for a person to get away with substance use when actually it’s not a good idea. Furthermore, if a person were to continue to drink or use drugs even without getting drunk or without getting too high (if there is such a thing), they are still vulnerable to tolerance. Tolerance means that a person needs to consume more of a particular substance to feel the effects of that substance they once did. If you need to drink three glasses of wine to feel drunk where as two month ago you needed only one glass of wine to feel drink, then you are becoming more and more tolerant to alcohol. Tolerance is based on many factors: gender, weight, muscle mass, and fat. However, once a person has developed a tolerance to drugs or alcohol, they are one step closer to developing an addiction.

The definition of sobriety is clear: not drunk and not high on drugs. If you’re stretching the definition of sobriety to suit your cravings, you may be entering dangerous territory.

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