“...treatment primarily involves
not taking a drink...”
-American Medical Association
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., New York
This is AA. General Service Conference-approved literature
Living Sober Copyright © 1975; 1998 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115 All rights reserved.
Mail address: Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163
Forty-first Printing, 2007
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS and AA. are registered trademarks® of AA. World Services, Inc.
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 75-328153
About that title
Even the words "stay sober"—let alone live sober—offended many of us when we first heard such advice. Although we had done a lot of drinking, many of us never felt drunk, and were sure we almost never appeared or sounded drunk. Many of us never staggered, fell, or got thick tongues; many others were never disorderly, never missed a day at work, never had automobile accidents, and certainly were never hospitalized nor jailed for drunkenness.
We knew lots of people who drank more than we did, and people who could not handle their drinks at all. We were not like that. So the suggestion that maybe we should "stay sober" was almost insulting.
Besides, it seemed unnecessarily drastic. How could we live that way? Surely, there was nothing wrong with a cocktail or two at a business lunch or before dinner. Wasn't everyone entitled to relax with a few drinks, or have a couple of beers before going to bed?
However, after we learned some of the facts about the illness called alcoholism, our opinions shifted. Our eyes have been opened to the fact that apparently millions of people have the disease of alcoholism. Medical science does not explain its "cause," but medical experts on alcoholism assure us that any drinking at all leads to trouble for the alcoholic, or problem drinker. Our experience overwhelmingly confirms this.
So not drinking at all—that is, staying sober—becomes the basis of recovery from alcoholism. And let it be emphasized: Living sober turns out to be not at all grim, boring, and uncomfortable, as we had feared, but rather something we begin to enjoy and find much more exciting than our drinking days. We'll show you how.
1 Using this booklet
2 Staying away from the first drink
3 Using the 24-hour plan
4 Remembering that alcoholism is an incurable, progressive, fatal disease
5 "Live and Let live"
6 Getting active
7 Using the Serenity Prayer
8 Changing old routines
9 Eating or drinking something—usually, sweet
10 Making use of "telephone therapy"
11 Availing yourself of a sponsor
12 Getting plenty of rest
13 "First Things First"
14 Fending off loneliness
15 Watching out for anger and resentments
16 Being good to yourself
17 Looking out for over-elation
18 "Easy Does It"
19 Being grateful
20 Remembering your last drunk
21 Avoiding dangerous drugs and medications
22 Eliminating self-pity
23 Seeking professional help
24 Steering clear of emotional entanglements
25 Getting out of the "if" trap
26 Being wary of drinking occasions
27 Letting go of old ideas
28 Reading the AA message
29 Going to AA meetings
30 Trying the Twelve Steps
31 Finding your own way
see below for links to each chapter
Some questions often asked by new non drinkers— and pages that offer some answers
What do I say and do at a drinking party?
Should I keep liquor in the house?
How do I explain to people why I'm not drinking now?
What about sex?
What about insomnia?
What about drinking dreams?
Should I go into bars?
What can I do when I get lonely?
As long as I'm happy, am I safe?
Should I seek professional help?
Is it necessary to give up old companions and habits?
Why 'not drinking'?
We members of Alcoholics Anonymous see the answer to that question when we look honestly at our own past lives. Our experience clearly proves that any drinking at all leads to serious trouble for the alcoholic, or problem drinker. In the words of the American Medical Association:
Alcohol, aside from its addictive qualities, also has a psychological effect that modifies thinking and reasoning. One drink can change the thinking of an alcoholic so that he feels he can tolerate another, and then another, and another....
The alcoholic can learn to completely control his disease, but the affliction cannot be cured so that he can return to alcohol without adverse consequences.*
And we repeat: Somewhat to our surprise, staying sober turns out not to be the grim, wet-blanket experience we had expected! While we were drinking, a life without alcohol seemed like no life at all. But for most members of AA, living sober is really living—a joyous experience. We much prefer it to the troubles we had with drinking.
One more note: anyone can get sober. We have all done it lots of times. The trick is to stay and to live sober. That is what this booklet is about.
* From an official statement issued July 31, 1964