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[ Opinion ]

Neither Clean Or Sober

The struggle is real, we all know that. It can end with realizing there is no end-you now have a new life to maintain, or it can end with a relapse at the drop of a pin. Some say the choice is yours. The elephant in the room says at least a smidge of it hangs on how and how much others help you. There’s meetings for people who aren’t like us, the non-magic folk-the muggles-as I like to think of them, there they can listen to stories and hear how to help us addicts and alcoholics out of our trenches. They can talk about us freely, using any words they can muster through the tears of the pain we have caused them. What about us, in our own rooms? Can someone seeking help in our rooms ask for help without judgement on the words they use? Can someone who is in the first moments of choosing to not use or drink or do whatever they have recently realized is killing them ask for help without judgement?

When I hear a cry for help getting clean or sober (!) in a room or on a forum (now we have to responsible for each other online as well) and the first response is something like, “We don’t say that here,” my soul sinks and my face blushes in embarrassment. I wonder immediately if I’m making the right choice to be affiliated with this attitude. I remember being new, and not just confused about myself, but being confused about my surroundings and the people in them. Can I trust these people? How do I know this is real support and not something else hopeful that is going to fall through the cracks as I approach it like a mirage? I still say “the wrong words” after 13 months. I know what I mean when I say I’m sober, or when I say I’m clean and that should be enough. We have a responsibility to listen past semantics to the root of the story-someone wants a new life. Our position is to welcome them in, take them under our wings and show them how we learned to fly. Emerging research is sharing with us that lack of inclusion and community are core reasons for people to isolate and sink into addictions. If our sobriety (or cleantime!) depends on unity, let’s unify for the sake of the lives asking to be saved and ditch the OCD with words and help people. If someone says they’re sober, cheer them on! If someone wants to get clean, let them speak and share our experience with them.