What the major recovery groups say about abstinence.....
“Sobriety” can mean different things in dictionaries, but in LifeRing it always means abstinence. The basic membership requirement is a sincere desire to remain abstinent from alcohol and “drugs.”
LifeRing welcomes alcoholics and addicts without distinction, as well as people involved in relationships with them. Please look elsewhere for support if your intention is to keep drinking or using, but not so much, or to stop drinking but continue using, or stop using but continue drinking.
The successful LifeRing participant practices the Sobriety Priority, meaning that nothing is allowed to interfere with staying abstinent from alcohol and “drugs.” The motto is “we do not drink or use, no matter what.”
Sobriety is the number one priority in an alcoholic’s or addict’s life. As such, he or she must abstain from all drugs or alcohol. … To break the cycle of denial and achieve sobriety, we first acknowledge that we are alcoholics or addicts.
We reaffirm this truth daily and accept without reservation the fact that, as clean and sober individuals, we can not and do not drink or use, no matter what. Since drinking or using is not an option for us, we take whatever steps are necessary to continue our Sobriety Priority lifelong.
“Sober” means, “Just for now.”
“Abstinent” means, “For good.”
Rational Recovery does not actively support moderate drinking or “controlled” drinking or efforts to reduce the harm from using drugs. We deny any difference between a problem drinker and a real alcoholic.
….. Even small amounts of alcohol or drugs impair the judgment necessary to stick with earlier decisions to drink moderately….
….If you have an established pattern of harm to yourself or others or have failed in any of your roles and responsibilities resulting from the use of alcohol, the continued use of any amount of alcohol places you at extreme high risk of new and greater problems.
We recommend lifetime abstinence from alcohol and other drugs for anyone experiencing problems related to drinking or using. Planned abstinence is quick, easy, cost-free, and risk-free, and it feels good immediately and in the long run.
Why abstinence? What we know is that after one has developed a severe addiction, the simplest, easiest, safest and surest way to keep from repeating past behaviors is total abstinence. This is not to say one may not go thorough a period of “day at a time,” or “week at a time,” or even try a “harm reduction” approach than punish yourself trying to moderate or control your addictive behavior.
Studies have shown that regardless of the method employed to become sober, the number one factor for sobriety success is a permanent commitment to discontinue use permanently; a commitment to abstinence.
[from the brochure Women & Addictions, available from their web site]
Women for Sobriety believes that drinking began to overcome stress, loneliness, frustration, emotional deprivation, or any number of other kinds of harassment. Dependence and addiction resulted. This physiological addiction can only be overcome by abstinence. Mental and emotional addiction are overcome with the knowledge of self gained through Women for Sobriety.
This phenomenon [of craving], as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity. It has never been, by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated. The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence. [The Big Book, page xxviii]
Relapse means returning to a drug of abuse after a period of abstinence. According to the disease model, resuming any addictive drug, not just the original drug of choice, constitutes a relapse (from silkworth. net).With true alcoholics, it is never a question of control or moderation. Their only out is absolute abstinence. Alcoholics Anonymous might well make the last two words of the preceding paragraph the second meaning of “A.A.”