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Why I Don’t Call Myself Sober or Living a Sober Life

by | Stop Drinking Alcohol | 16 comments

Why do I not call myself an alcoholic anymore?
Why do I not call myself an alcoholic?
Why do I not call myself sober?
Why do I not say that I’m in recovery?

Today, I just wanted to talk about why I don’t use the term sober on myself, you know, to say “well, I’m three and a half years sober or almost four years sober or any of that kind of crap.

There are three reasons for it.

The first reason is that calling myself sober, links me to the past.

It keeps me going back into the past.

Sober is a label, it’s like anything else, any other word that you use; like recovery, like alcoholic, like freedom, like journey, new journey – which I prefer.

And it sort of pins you into a corner.

Puts you into a box, sellotapes the box shut and there’s a label put over the sellotape.

And that’s it.

You’re pinned inside the box; you’ve got this label on yourself.

And labels mean a lot because they’ve got a lot of baggage attached to them.

They’ve got a lot of other little side words, little meanings that are attached to them.

Sober is attached to alcohol, it’s attached to alcoholic, it’s attached to being a previous drunk, being a previous alcohol user.

It’s attached to victim – even though you might not be a victim anymore – but it’s still attached to that kind of thinking.

It’s attached to all the old life that I want to leave behind me.

In my opinion, in my life, in my mind – I used to be a drunk; I used to be a drinker; I used to drink a lot

I probably squandered a lot of my life thinking about drinking, drinking and putting up with the consequences of that drinking.

Going through all those hangovers.

Sort of read yesterday, just this thought just come into my mind now.

The Hangover Bus, it’s a new thing, I think its somewhere probably in America.

Only in America – sorry America – but Jesus Christ!

There’s a bus going around.

I don’t know if it’s in Vegas or one of these places.

And you can basically get on this bus when you’ve got a hangover and they say they’ll cure your hangover by putting you on vitamin drips and all this kind of stuff within forty-five minutes.

Anyway, getting off the topic there but, it just saddens me the world is going.

For fuck’s sake. Really. People don’t realise what they’re doing to themselves.

This is the reason why I want to put as much distance between myself and my old alcohol drinking life as I possibly can.

Do you remember the movie? The Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, where he woke up at the same time every morning.

Sonny and Cher playing “I got you babe on the radio.”

And he was basically, was in the same thing, same people coming up to him.

And whatever he did to try and change it, even killing himself, he would wake up the next morning and things would be exactly, smack back, where he started off.

Well, that’s how I felt my alcohol drinking days were.

When I try and remember days gone by when I was drinking.

It is very difficult for me because it feels like it was the same day.

It was the same – I was doing exactly the same things, going to the same pub, sitting in the same part of the pub, if I could I’d be sitting on the same stool, with the same people, drinking the same drink and when you do that often enough it becomes like one cyclic Groundhog Day.

Where you don’t remember anything.

You don’t remember any single event because it’s all mashed up together.

Since I’ve quit drinking, I get none of that.

I can remember days now.

It seems to me the last three and a half years – I’ve done so much you know?

And so I can remember, for instance, the holiday that I took.

The first holiday I took after I quit drinking.

I can’t remember any holidays before I quit drinking.

But this holiday and every other one that I’ve taken since stands out in my mind.


Because I wasn’t clouding my judgement.

I wasn’t doing the same things.

I wasn’t going on holidays and trying to feed my face with alcohol and in doing so I wasn’t making this just like the last holiday only in a different situation.

You know the scenery changes, the vista changes, but the brain is still stuck in the loop.

So it doesn’t matter if the scenery changes because the brain doesn’t take any notice of the scenery, because it’s more interested in the internal drunkenness.

So like I say, all that has changed since I stopped drinking.

That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like calling myself sober – because it links me back to that time.

The drunkenness, it’s like I said before.

It’s like a fat person, an obese person, all the sudden going on a diet and loosing massive amount of weight.

Say one hundred pounds or whatever it is that their losing and still calling themselves fat.

Or making up some other term.

I don’t know what would you call yourself after you’ve been off the four cheese pizzas for three or four years.

Skinny? You know, I’m living the skinny life now.

I don’t know, but you know what I mean.

It just doesn’t make any sense to do that.

The second reasons is that it gives authority to the stupid term: normal drinkers

It gives credit to it.

It gives credence to it. It adds credence to this.

And there is no such thing as a normal drug taker.

We just don’t do that as human beings.

We might do it as human beings, but if you want to live the best life that you can.

If you want to look after your body.

Look after your brain.

If you want to optimise your chances in this life of getting the best out of this life.

Of pushing yourself to – I’m not talking about the big achievements – you know, you have to be this and you have to be number one in that and number one in this and number one in that.

I’m talking about personal achievements which make you want to get up in the morning and go:


Every morning, you’re happy to hop out of the bed, because you know you’ve got something bright to look forward to.

You can’t achieve that as a drug user.

Even if you’re a weekend drug user.

Even if you are the type of person that goes down to the pub.

Like I was as well, I was a weekend drug user.

I was also a week drug user, in more sense of the word than one.

And it just screwed around with my life so much.

It was unreal.

You know I, there was no way that I was anyway near my getting where I should have been or getting where I needed to go, where I wanted to go.

My potential was just completely wasted, day after day after day after day.

So if that’s normality, then I want nothing to do with normality.

Maybe it is and maybe I’m making a big deal out of this normal life.

There’s a lot of sayings, that say well – there’s various different people say it in different ways but it basically comes down to – if you are doing something that everyone else is doing. Then you’re doing something wrong.

If you want to achieve optimum performance, if you want to achieve your happiness goals in life and you’re trying to do what everyone else is doing, then stop doing that and do something else.

So maybe from that perspective, normal drinkers if the right term to use.

Most people are like sheep.

They’ll just do what the next person is doing and go along with the herd.

Carry on doing that and whatever you know?

Whatever the consequences, they don’t think about the consequences, they hide those behind their own justifications, you know?

So, I don’t like that.

I don’t want to do that.

I did if for long enough and so from this perspective it’s another reason why I don’t use the word, use the term, sober. on myself.

Because it just gives, it adds credence to that normal drinker and I don’t think there is anything normal, personally, I don’t think there is anything normal about putting a poison into your body.

There’s nothing sane in it.

It’s a form of insanity.

Group insanity.

Societal insanity, whatever you want to call it but it is fucking mad, stupid, fucking whatever you want to call this you know?

There’s nothing normal about it.

Unless you define normal as being doing something that most people do.

The third reason why I don’t call myself sober or add this label to myself is that, I want to get back to the sort of – as clean living – as I can

To the sort of cleanliness that I had before I started drinking. Before I started smoking.

I want to be cleaner than that if I can, you know?

I’m not talking about physically; I’m not going to get to that stage.

Obviously when you are young you are a lot cleaner, you’re physically cleaner, than when you get older.

Physiologically and the stuff that I am putting into my mouth, the stuff that I’m feeding my brain on, I am trying to get as clean as I can.

I didn’t call myself sober before I started drinking alcohol, so why should I call myself sober now.

It just doesn’t make any sense.

You know at the end of the day, change is natural

Change happens.

Change is wise, you know, when you make changes in your life, when you make self-directed changes, you know change is going to happen regardless of what you think about it and how it comes into your life.

It’s going to happen, it happens, but the mark of somebody who is learning, who is having a bit of wisdom in this life, is to try and direct as much of that change as you can.

For me, it’s very difficult to make these changes when you’re trying to hold onto the past.

When you’re trying to hold onto thoughts about alcohol.

Thoughts about what you’re missing out on.

How much it would be nice to have a drink now or how nice it would be to go out with all your buddies and stuff, go through that, how much it would be nice to add the glass of rioja to this red meat that you’re eating.

Whatever it is, holding onto the past.

You can hold onto the past in the words that you use about yourself.

So I never use that word.

I never call myself sober.

It’s the same that I don’t call myself tea-totaller.

I don’t call myself any of those names that put a label on me and for somebody else’s thinking, right to say, well you understand this or this is what I am.

I’m not anything like that.

I just don’t drink alcohol. Period.

I don’t smoke.

I don’t take drugs.

I don’t mess around with dangerous sexual encounters.

I don’t do any of that stuff right.

Because I want to try and feed my body as much as I can.

And it might sound fucking stupid right.

It might sound well you can’t get to that.

But you know you’ve got to try these things with yourself you know.

This is the only body that I have.

Yours is the only body that you have.

It’s the only body that you’re ever going to have.

So you have to treat it as if it was a Super Car.

Treat it the best way you can.

If you went out tomorrow and you brought – if you had the money or someone gifted, you the money – and you brought a pedigree race horse.

If you spent a million quid on a pedigree race horse.

You’d make sure the thing was fed properly, exercised properly and you’d do your best to keep it healthy.

But we don’t do that with our own bodies.

We’re more interested in what’s going on, on the outside, that what is going on, in the inside.

It’s a sad way of looking at things.

Unfortunately, for most of us, we only start to think about those when things start going wrong in our lives.

When our health starts to suffer and all that kind of stuff.

Anyway, that’s long enough for this one.

If you have any questions at all leave them down below, in the comment section.

Come on over to the website and sign up to the newsletter and you get daily videos into your inbox.

“Labels are for filing, Labels are for clothing, Labels are not for people”

Until next time…
Take Care
Stay Safe
Keep the alcohol out of your mouth
Good Luck
Onwards and Upwards!

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  1. Keith W. Norris

    Kevin, This is the best episode for me so far. I just quit drinking three days ago. I was a daily drinker(I’ve been watching your videos for some time now.) This video really hit home and is just what I needed to hear today.

    I have quit before, and went to AA. AA always kept me aware of the issue and kept it in the front of my mind. I just want it to be in the past and to forget about it. I have much better control of my environment than I had in the past… To long of a story. I will watch your videos, if I need reinforcement !!!

    I am 73 and done drinking 🙂

    Kindest regards, Keith

    P.S. : I will make a donation to your account.

  2. Ed Gala

    Same here, I don’t say I’m sober I say I don’t drink. I don’t even keep track of how long I have not been drinkinking. I do know that I will not have the drink you offer me because I don’t drink. Just like if you offer me a cigarette, no thanks, I don’t smoke. I do know that I will not buy a beer, bottle of wine, booze today because I do not drink. Past is past. Don’t dwell on it. It doesn’t exist anymore anyway. The only reality is this very moment. When you think of the past you are thinking of it in this moment. When you contemplate the future, you are doing it in this moment. This moment when you turn down a drink is the only reality. This moment is all that exists.

  3. Peter Keithly

    Good episode. I too do not use the terms “sober” or “alcoholic” to describe my current or past lifestyle. I (like many others) used alcohol to artificially alter my mood on a very regular basis. I was in fact “addicted” to this mood altering behavior for 45 years of my life. I was a “normal” heavy drinker. As I got older and the continuous use of alcohol started to take a toll on my health (mental and physical) I finally acknowledged that I had been living a very unnatural and artificially supported lifestyle. I decided that I wanted to try experiencing a more natural life free of mood altering substances. What would it actually be like to live a life without alcohol? Much of the world’s population never use alcohol and here I was using it on nearly a daily basis for most of my life! I agree that it is counterproductive to label yourself sober or recovering. Label yourself as living a more natural lifestyle without the crutch of alcohol. Try it for a while and see if your life seems better overall. If not, you can always go back to using the crutch and join your old drinking buddies as they hobble through life. My life seems much better without alcohol. Cheers!

  4. Jason

    I totally agree. The terms sober and alcoholic are meaningless to me. I used to drink but I don’t anymore. Voilá.

  5. charloes

    dear kevin,
    another good one.at last i have replied rather than pushing the thumbs up button.i hardly knew how to operate my computer when i hit on your site.i cant thank you enough.look,i think i may have a problem,as guided,i became a patron on something called patreon.have i been spammed or is it alcohol mastery.could you check if you have payments from me.i can confirm details once i know im dealing with the main man.

    • Kevin O'Hara

      No Charloes, the Patreon is not a scam. If you send me an email with your details to kevin@alcoholmastery.com, I’ll can confirm your details. Appreciate it 🙂 Kevin

  6. Scott Willis


  7. Mick

    Kevin, I think if anything people who don’t drink are practicing what Buddha called mindfulness.

    • Kevin O'Hara

      There is definitely something to be said for that.

  8. Donna

    I absolutely loved this podcast & agree 100% on the “mindset concept discussed. Thank you so much for these podcasts!!!

  9. Cat

    BRAVO!!! This was excellent. You certainly have a way of thinking that I can relate to. I have been on and off this alcohol merry go round for my entire adult life…quit smoking 3 years ago and still had monthly binges of wine and cigs until recently. Thank you for your honesty and direction.

    P.S. Much better scenery with no screeching birds was such a pleasure!…now for my walk…bye bye till tomorrow!


  10. Suzanne McDermott

    Nothing you say sounds stupid to me. Just a quick note to say that I’ve been listening to you daily for the last two weeks and that you’re service is of great help. Kudos for the work you’ve done and gratitude for how you’re helping me out here in another part of the world. Many, many thanks.

  11. Susan

    Thank you for the daily videos. They help a lot. Hearing you and others (via the comment sections) eloquently echoing thoughts I had rumbling around my booze soaked brain for all those years before I stopped drinking alcohol makes a huge difference.

    With that said, thought I’d share something of my own. I used to get angry at myself for not being able to control my alcohol consumption. And then one day it occurred to me that I was focusing my anger at the wrong “person”, entity actually. Why should I be mad at myself because a substance I had been taught to consume all my life (beginning in elementary school) did exactly what it is intended to do? How is that my fault? My anger is no longer directed at myself. It is directed at the alcohol industry that markets this poison through almost every aspect of our lives and makes us think it’s OK to drink.. They want you to believe it’s cool and hip – you’re not part of the fun crowd if you’re not boozing. The current trend of heavy marketing towards younger females is particularly disturbing.

    This is definitely not to say I don’t take responsibility for my own actions and for not stopping years ago. No, that’s on me. But realizing I was addicted not because I was a weak and pathetic person, but because the drug of choice did what it is expressly intended/designed to do, lifted that unnecessary negative burden from my shoulders. We all know the negative self-talk is a crusher.

    Perhaps this may be somewhat controversial to say, but one thing I know I’m not is a weak and pathetic individual. It takes some serious inner fortitude to drink as hard as I did for as long as I did and still drag my ass up and out to work and the gym every day all while trying to maintain that everything’s “OK”, normal. For me, kicking the poison out of my body was a hell of a lot easier than keeping that routine.

    So, no, not weak. Not pathetic. And not angry at myself anymore.

    Thank you to everyone who comments here – you all make a difference.

  12. Neil W

    Kevin another great video I’m seven days without having put alcohol in my mouth you speak very well and are a very wise man thanks

  13. Mark Tyson

    Holy carp Kevin you knocked it out of the park!! All of the years ingesting poison, while feeding my dog 4$ per pound food and bottled water


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