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What Is The Difference Between Dry And Sober?

September 20th, 2010 – Posted by James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S. in Living Sober


Question:  I quit drinking and that is that!!  Although most of the time I feel like having a drink, I don’t.  My girlfriend, who is in Alcoholics Anonymous, keeps asking me to join; she says there is a difference between being “just dry” and being sober. Sounds hair-splitting to me, but either way I don’t drink with the crowd and I stay dry.

Answer:  Tell her to lay off (nicely) but watch her grow emotionally and become more serene and balanced as time goes on. You may see a kind of happiness that radiates from these not only dry but sober people in A.A. Being “dry” usually means that the fight (against alcohol) is still going on.  That is what abstinence (dry only) is.  (Incidentally, it has a reputation for being temporary.)  Sobriety, on the other hand, is that comfortable state of mind wherein a person has been “released from the compulsion to drink.”  It results from surrender to powerlessness over alcohol and the transfer of the problem to a different power, greater than oneself, plus a commitment to a set of principles which restores a person to peace and sanity.  If you two continue your relationship, you may notice that there is a calm kind of joy that becomes part of her presence.  That is because the program she is a part of is one of attraction rather than one of promotion.  Peace.

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  2. Does AA work?
  3. What is the difference between alcohol abuse and dependence?
  4. Why does honey with orange juice help people sober up?


One Response to “What is the Difference Between Dry and Sober?”

  1. Mona Lisa says:

    However, based on my own experience with AA (nearly a decade), your girlfriend may not became serene and balanced at all. She may, in fact, become highly judgmental of you because you are not following the same path she is. She may decide that your sobriety is of lower quality than hers (actually, she already has, since she is telling you that you are “just dry”, where as she is “sober”). My advice: do what works for you. AA does not have all the answers, although its members often act as though it does.

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