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Sobriety or Abstinence


A friend of mine saw me having a beer at dinner the other night and asked, “I thought you stopped drinking? What he did not say, but might have thought was, “I thought alcoholics have a disease over which they have no control and can’t stop drinking?”


This is a common misconception in that people equate abstinence with sobriety. Let’s define our terms with respect to alcohol.  Abstinence is not drinking at all (abstaining from alcohol). Sobriety on the other hand is not being drunk or intoxicated, being clear headed. America has created two neologisms—"recovery" and "sobriety"—both of which are taken to mean abstinence. Neither term is accurate. Sobriety is not abstinence: the word literally means not being intoxicated or, in its broad sense, taking a serious approach to life.


Recovery does not mean avoiding a substance forever. It means regaining a foothold in life by finding purpose and meaning. For me, Recovery refers to a return of a normal God oriented healthy state of mind, body and spirit. The process of Christian character building is one in which we move from self-centeredness to a God-centered living life.


I drank weekly for nearly five decades. After a couple of drinks I felt less stress and wanted to feel even less stress so I kept drinking and drinking.

The logic was simple and effective, more drink less stress. I loved the quick fix or mood changer that made me lose the feeling of helplessness, being trapped or out of control in a social situation.  I also let the inevitable stress of life build until the weekends when I then treated myself with what I felt was well deserved intoxication. When I drank I had control in that my anxiety was greatly diminished and I could control just how much to diminish it! Yes, getting plastered was a conscious decision.  I drank to satisfy an emotional purpose in my life. The intoxication of alcohol was a quick fix or mood changer that helped me regain control over social anxiety and adverse issues in life that were extremely important to me. Bottom line is that I drank to escape overwhelming feelings of helplessness, plain and simple. I started in high school on the weekends, continued in college and on into my professional life. I was on autopilot. Drinking was a substitute or displaced behavior for regaining temporary control of the inevitable, continuous, adversity of life.


The very function (purpose) of addiction is to reverse a sense of helplessness. Addiction is a behavior intended to reverse a profound, intolerable sense of helplessness. This helplessness is always rooted in something deeply important to the individual. Addictions are nothing more than substitutes for doing something to deal more directly with these helpless feelings. The healthy next step is to undo this substitution by taking a more direct action. Every addictive act is a substitute for a more direct behavior. This fact leads to one of the important parts of a modern treatment of addiction: If addicts can learn to address their rage at helplessness directly, then it manifests simply as an assertive act. When people act directly, there can be no addiction. If we learn to pay attention to key moment before the addictive act to determine what is overwhelming for you, you can determine what is emotionally upsetting, you can predict it and then redirect it! Addictions don’t sit in isolation. The emotional things that set them off are the things that bother people in their lives in general. This is precisely why we have multiple hurts, habits and hangs. Examples are when an angry person, feels helpless and loses control and attempts to regain control by verbally or physically lashing out. An alcoholic might escape their helplessness trap by regaining control with the displaced behavior of getting drunk! A chronic gambler or compulsive porn viewer escapes the issues in their life that make them feel trapped, helpless, powerless and out of control with their specific compulsive behavior.


So what is different in my life?


I’m sober. I’m not intoxicated. I’ve repented in that I have changed my thinking. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the knowledge to understand that people change when they decide to change. People change when the hurt enough and have to or learn enough and want to! Today, I have victory over compulsive drinking because I have faced and understood the cause of my emotional issues and chose direct health behavior as a response, in place of displaced behavior. After one or two drinks in the past I would crave more and more. Now just the opposite occurs, I tell myself that is enough. You see my relationship with Christ has shown me that I don’t need an artificial quick fix or mood changer, all I need is priorities, values and purpose driven motivation-Christ driven behavior. My personal relationship with Christ is the mothership of my life. When I drift too far, I can feel the strain on the tether and I don’t like it. The Person-God partnership simply needs to be more powerful than any hurt, habit or hangup.


I fully acknowledge that not everyone has the same ability to control their sobriety.  Some people are not yet capable of moderation and never will be. Not everyone understands that compulsive drinking (alcoholism) is not a disease but a symptom of something else that is wrong in their lives. Not everyone is willing or even capable on their own to face such issues. Still others have concomitant biochemical diseases that require medical intervention. (Schizophrenia, Depression, Bipolar). What God commands Christians regarding alcohol is to avoid drunkenness. “Don’t get drunk with wine, because it makes you lose control." Instead, keep on being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This does not mandate abstinence but instead sobriety!



“A fool vents their emotions but a wise person holds them back,” (Psalms 29:11). With Celebrate Christ Recovery, we can regain control with a direct act by giving God Control. (Romans 12:2) When we give God Control, God returns that control to us through the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). We then act with a direct healthy fruitful, Christ Driven Behavior, with self-control, that emulates the values, character and purpose of Christ (Galatians 5:22-23). When you delegate control to Christ (Surrender) “My grace is sufficient for you for there is power in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) we can’t help but love God with all our heart, all our mind and all our strength (Mark 12:30). This is behavior honoring God, this is direct healthy behavior. This is sobriety. This is the synergy of science and scripture.


We can rejoice in trials when we believe that God is developing Christ like character in us. This is a reward system on earth than becomes eternal. Wisdom can help us discern the source of our hardships and the purpose of them. It also guides us in how to respond to our troubles. Learn to let the wisdom of God direct your actions and experience the peace that comes with living according to the will of God.

Ephesians 4:22-23 "...put away the old person you used to be. Have nothing to do with your old sinful life. It was sinful because of being fooled into following bad desires (displaced behavior). Let your minds and hearts be made new."

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true (direct behavior) and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives (displaced). It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

"I am a Surrendered Believer in Jesus Christ with Free Will and I CHOSE Surrender (Intelligent Delegation) in my victory over, “Recreational Chemical Abuse, my weekend, "False Idols."
"I chose DIRECT health assertive Christ Driven Behavior (CDB) instead of DISPLACED behavior in order to regain control over feeling helpless, powerless, trapped and lacking control. I changed my, "Thinking," and God changed my life."
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There is no reason why anyone with any hurt, habit, or hang up cannot be helped. The Person-God partnership simply needs to be more powerful than any hurt, habit or hangup.

Behind everything you do is a THOUGHT.

Every BEHAVIOR is motivated by a BELIEF.

Every ACTION is prompted by an ATTITUDE.


With respect to behavior, life is about, emotions, beliefs, thinking and control.

"A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back."Proverbs 29:11 (Displaced Behaviors)

"Do not be conformed by this world but instead by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2 (Direct Behavior)

When you think and empower yourself and surrender control to God, when you Intelligently Delegate Control to God (2 Corinthians 12:9-10),

God returns that control to you with a, “Helper," the Holy Spirit, (John 14:16) a form of Reciprocal Innervation.

You regain control: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

No longer are you subject to corrupted displaced thinking but instead are transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).

This is where science and scripture intertwine, where Christ Driven Behavior brings, values, control, cause, character and purpose driven behavior, the fruits of the spirit Galatians 5:22-23 .

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.


Proverbs 29:11 "A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back."

Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

2 Corinthians 12-9:“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

John 14:16: "He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—"

Philippians 2:13: "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

Galatians 5:22-23 "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Ephesians 4:22-23 "...put away the old person you used to be. Have nothing to do with your old sinful life. It was sinful because of being fooled into following bad desires. Let your minds and hearts be made new."

Life is about finding Purpose. When you have a, "Global Purpose," in life, healthy direct assertive thinking and behavior follow.

Change your thinking, change your life!

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