To most, “Sobriety” means the act of being sober. Although abstinence from an activity fits into the mold of this definition, we must analyze why we are sober. According to Psychology Today, “Addiction and remission are about the absence of problems—using or not using a substance.” When looking at remission as the absence of a problem rather than looking at problem and avoiding it, it will no longer hold power over you.
I discussed in my last post that I was *trying* to abstain from sex, alcohol, and marijuana. In these endeavors, I failed miserably in all three aspects by day 2. I think I was so caught up in the idea that these activities were bad for me and I was trying so hard to pretend that they didn’t exist, that the lack of having this things in my life made me crave it more. Not to mention the fact that Diego wants sex often, which makes it hard for me to resist temptation, even if I felt guilty for having premarital sex after the fact. Most of those around me drink often, especially in quarantine, and often smoke. Hearing, seeing, and smelling all of the weed and booze just made everything worse. It was unfair to my friends and those around me to hide what they were doing just so I wouldn’t be tempted; you can’t filter the real world and have things be catered to your liking.
Then I realized that I was looking at abstinence the wrong way. I began to see it through the prospective of “what problem(s) do drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. give me? What can myself or friends or family do to help combat the problem? Is it even a problem at all?” With those questions being asked, I realized that I didn’t have a problem with any of these things. Instead of viewing them as “____________ is bad”, I then questioned why _________ was bad.
For sex, I thought it was bad because I felt guilt afterwards for having premarital sex. I sinned against God. I was actively sinning against God and had no intentions to change my ways. But what was truly bad about not having sex was the way it affected my relationship with Diego. It wasn’t fair to him because he hadn’t agreed to abstinence. It put a lot of unnecessary strain on our relationship, which is something I couldn’t live with. We have reduced the amount we have sex in order to meet both of our needs. We started praying before meals and next up is reading scripture together.
For alcohol and marijuana, I thought I had an addiction because I did these things frequently, and often together. Although I was doing one or the other 5 days a week, which was a lot to me, I tracked when I was doing it and when I had started doing these activities so frequently. It all started when I was on unemployment in January. So I have been doing this all out of boredom. I didn’t feel as these were activities that I just couldn’t live without, and reasoned that these were okay to do as long as I am not doing them alone.
I think I failed initially because I was trying to do too many things at once. Not only was I tackling on THREE different “problems,” I had no idea why I was purging those things until I already declared sobriety. There initially was no value to me to be sober and abstinent from these choices because I didn’t think it through. The only thing I gave half of a thought towards was to sex. I knew my partner would be supportive if that’s what I felt that I needed, but abstinence didn’t ever take into account his physical and emotional needs. The other two I failed out of wanting to not be the only one who was sober, especially if I didn’t *really* have a problem with drinking and smoking to begin with.
My best advice for those who choose sobriety or are in the midst of deciding to abstain from a substance or activity is this:
- Know why you’re abstaining. If you decide that you have a problem controlling yourself around drugs, alcohol, etc. Hey that’s great. The first step is admitting you have a problem and are powerless toward those thing(s). But why are you powerless? You spend too much money on it, too much time, risk of disease, etc. Once you say that you spend too much money going out drinking for example, you can ask should you abstain entirely or just avoid the bars or even stick to a tight bar budget.
- You have to decide what’s right for YOU. Everyone’s moral compass is different so you must do what is morally right for you. Most say that sex before marriage isn’t a big deal. For me, it is. Although Diego shares a lot of the same values as I do, he doesn’t feel guilty for having sex before we get married. So we compromised on sex less often, but focusing more on God with our new spare time.
- Abstinence isn’t for everyone. With that being said, an all or nothing system doesn’t work for or apply to everyone. Maybe you have been smoking more frequently because of boredom due to quarantine, that doesn’t mean you have an addiction per se, it just means you’re bored. Let’s say you also smoke because you have a chronic illness. Then smoke when your symptoms flare and limit when you can smoke in recreation. Then when you don’t smoke, you can find other activities to consume your time.
Til Next Time,