Sobriety generally means abstaining from addictive behaviors. While there are some differences depending on the specific addiction, which we’ll discuss below, we have found certain common elements to our recoveries.
True sobriety is more than just physical abstinence from a substance or behavior. We learn to turn our wills and our lives over to God. We learn to give back to others through service. We find that we can only keep what we have by giving it away to others who struggle as we have.
Sobriety is also learning to overcome our character defects which contributed to our addictions. In sobriety, we learn to overcome our insecurity, inadequacy, selfishness, fear, jealousy, anger, hurt and self-pity. We learn to take a daily inventory, and when we have acted wrongly, we promptly correct the situation.
We learn that isolation is not conducive to sobriety. Therefore, we stay connected to others by attending meetings, talking regularly to our sponsor and accountability partners.
No matter what the addiction, we have found these things in common. But because we chose to act out in different ways, we define our sobriety specific to our particular addictions.
Chemical sobriety means we abstain from mood-altering chemicals, including alcohol, illicit drugs, and the use of prescription medications in ways other than as prescribed and monitored by a physician.
Sobriety means we do not have any form of sexual contact with ourselves or anyone but our spouse. Internal sobriety means that we do not intentionally seek out sexually explicit material in any form, nor intentionally place ourselves in tempting situations. When confronted with temptation, we do not yield to it, but surrender the situation to the Lord by praying for His power to resist and/or flee.
Addictions to food may take a number of forms, including anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating, and/or eating solely for emotional comfort. Obviously, unlike addiction to mood-altering chemicals, we cannot abstain from eating. Therefore, sobriety as it relates to food addictions and unhealthy eating patterns means that we follow an eating plan that is worked out with our sponsor. This plan may be different for different people. For example, sobriety may be defined as not binging and/or purging, or as not eating beyond a certain quantity of food as defined in one’s eating plan. For most, food sobriety includes not eating over emotional issues, but rather facing and dealing with emotions directly.
Sobriety from co-dependent behavior is more subtle than other areas where there is a specific behavior from which we abstain. In co-dependency, we find that our self-worth is based on other people, and that we have tried to manipulate, control and fix others so that we could feel good about ourselves. For the co-dependent, then, sobriety is mindfully pursuing changes in the way we think and interact with others in our lives. This is measured by progress, not perfection, for it takes a great deal of time and effort to change these patterns of thinking and interacting. We seek to anchor our self-worth in Jesus Christ, not the opinions of others. We seek to break the cycle of controlling, fixing, and nagging, instead allowing others to experience the natural and logical consequences of their behaviors.
Co-dependency to a Sexual Addict (COSA) Sobriety
COSA sobriety is closely related to co-dependency sobriety, with the specific criterion that the object of our co-dependency is a sex addict, who may or may not be in recovery. In COSA sobriety, we seek to neither control nor ignore the behavior of the sex addict, and maintain healthy personal boundaries. As with co-dependency sobriety, we stop accepting the self-blame for the sex addict’s behavior, and release the sex addict by not rescuing or fixing.