“You are never going to find sobriety surrounded by people who are not sober.”

I saw this quote in my feed the other day. It instantly rubbed me the wrong way because it’s a typical all-or-nothing blanket covering all people questioning their relationship with drugs or alcohol. I then got curious and started asking questions.

What do they mean by sober?

  • Is someone sober who is currently practicing abstinence?
  • Is someone sober who is in treatment?
  • Is someone sober who has pledged themselves in a lifetime of recovery?
  • Is someone sober who is in a program?
  • Is someone sober who drinks or smokes but doesn’t abuse it?

Now, I’m pretty confident the poster meant any of the first four would qualify as sober. I would argue that if any of the top four are struggling with abstinence, even if going to meetings is not sober. Sober, by definition, is having a clear mind. If you are always thinking I can’t drink, I want to drink, I wish I could drink, I need a meeting, or I’m hurt, angry, lonely, or tired, and need to drink, doesn’t sound like a clear mind. That sounds like a distracted mind.

My thoughts are until you can carry on with life without constantly being preoccupied with thoughts of misusing anything, you are not of clear mind; you are not sober. You can read how I unpacked the meaning of sober in Sober Revolution for free by going to my home page and clicking the free download or buy it here.



In 2003, I stopped drinking. I checked myself into outpatient, and that was working just fine. I felt the confidence I hadn’t felt in a long time, and it was the first time, besides my pregnancies, that I had gone longer than a week without alcohol.

Unfortunately, I had a partner, business and life, at the time that kept pushing AA because he didn’t like me attending outpatient without him. Prince Harming is who I refer to him as in my book Wholly Sober.

Long story short, I relented and attended my first AA meeting, drank that same evening, felt like the program’s beliefs had been validated, and ran back to a meeting every day, sometimes twice a day for the next few months.

I only hung out with “sober” people. Some started drinking or using again, and many were still miserable and clawing their way through one day at a time to hold onto their sobriety (abstinence.)

Around month six, I wanted more. I wanted to stretch my wings and fly. Who could I be with this clear mind and open heart to all the possibilities? I had never had such clarity in all my life. ALL OF MY LIFE!

My first sober friend was my sponsor. She and I had a different idea of my life plan, and she turned her back on me.

The rest of my “sober” friends stopped talking to me when I left the program to pursue a corporate job and test out my new state of being with a vision of making my boys proud, owning a home again, and going after a life that I wanted. They said I was on a pink cloud.

The truth is I couldn’t imagine my only conversations and life focus would be about alcohol, the disease, the program. I wanted so much more than alcohol, drinking, or not drinking to be the center stage of my life.



Over the next eighteen years, none of my friends were “sober” according to abstinence but sober according to the word’s true definition. They didn’t distract themselves from pain, they were always looking at how they could get more out of life, and they had healthy relationships with their family, friends, and coworkers and sometimes enjoyed a glass of wine or two. Some would have a toke now and again, and I never judged them. We lived harmoniously with a clear mind, open heart and had defined intention about who we were and wished to become. I call this Wholly Sober, but it’s just the bared stripped-down truth of what sober is.

I chose my friends by common interests. I am driven, love life, nature, always curious, and willing to experiment with new ideas and philosophies. I love to run and walk, read and listen, write and explore what else I have yet to discover about myself. I connect with like-minded people who are not willing to settle.

As the years have moved along, some of my interests, have changed and so have my friendships. In some areas, I have more flexibility now and erect firm boundaries in others. We are not to remain the same. That’s a big part of being sober, too – learning, growing, experiencing, and expanding.

Many women drink because they’ve forgotten this last part.



My identity is not around whether I drink but who I am.

And I am far more than someone who didn’t know how to cope and learned alcohol works perfect for false pride, courage, confidence, and accepting bad situations, relationships, and beliefs that cause a deep gnawing pain that alcohol gives a momentary reprieve.

If I hadn’t followed my dream to see what I could do and be, I would have no doubt gotten drunk again and again. It wasn’t about the alcohol. It was about me (SELF.)

The more I connected to self, the more I attracted my people by doing things I was interested in, and because I wasn’t someone who misused or abused alcohol or drugs or focused on other’s use, I didn’t attract people who did.

I don’t identify myself as a problem I once had. I am so much more. I believe that’s why I have never EVER struggled with my decision to stop drinking.



Alcohol is not my focus. You are! My passion is providing a space where you can explore sober, but more importantly, self. The deeper connection you have with self, the more connected you will become to the people who will enhance your life experience.



All this to say, sober is a label. You don’t need that label to get on with your life and qualify who is in your life. Just do you!


Much love,

Teresa Rodden Coach Author Advocate Sober Freedom