In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of that joyful moment when you win your license back by observing that, as a condition to getting there, a person has to stop drinking in the first place. I pointed out that although my client’s gratitude is the ultimate reward for my work as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I fully expect to win every license restoration and clearance appeal case I take, and actually guarantee to do so. We then moved on through why people decide to quit drinking, and how staying quit is really the key, and began examining the difference between mere abstinence and true sobriety. We left off with our example of Snake the Biker, who hasn’t had a drink in 4 years, and is therefore abstinent, but hardly sober, because as much as he has stopped himself so far, Snake still wants to drink. Here, in part 2, we’ll resume by looking at the difference between abstaining from alcohol when one hasn’t yet lost the urge to drink and real sobriety, where a person has moved past thoughts of drinking and no longer feels any strong urges to pick up again. From there, we’ll work our way to that magic moment when a person actually find out they’ve won their license back!
Sobriety stands in stark contrast to mere abstinence kept in place by a person’s fear of the negative consequences that will follow if he or she picks up again. A person who is genuinely sober first thinks of how much better life has become since he or she quit drinking, and how much better he or she feels now. It’s not that the sober person has forgotten all the bad things that will happen if he or she starts drinking again, but it’s that all of them are really secondary to the better life he or she is enjoying because of his or her sobriety. If Snake ever got really sober, he’d either quit the gang and/or join a club for sober bikers, and be happy to get away from his old lifestyle. He’d say the last thing he wants to do is waste his weekends with a bunch of drunken yahoos. If you’re really sober, and you’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to interact with someone who is drunk, it’s quite the opposite of any kind of temptation to drink again. Instead, you cringe, and think, “that was me,” and realize what an utter waste of breath, life and time all that was.
Sober people ditch the drinking buddies, get better jobs, complete degrees, get married, have kids, save money and then look at what they’ve built up and realize none of it would have been possible had they not put the plug in the jug. A commitment to sobriety really starts out as a commitment to abstinence, but then it sticks, and the person slogs through the early stages not only wanting a life without alcohol, but wants more than what they had in their life when they were drinking. By the time anyone quits, drinking wasn’t fun anymore. Getting and staying sober takes work and time. It’s not always easy. Plenty of times a person will have to dismiss the idea of a toast of champagne or a glass of wine when the “stinking thinking” creeps up and that inner voice says something like, “Sure, we know we can’t really “drink” anymore, but c’mon, it’s been a while and surely we can just pretend to be normal and have just one.” Sobriety means knowing this voice will always be there, but learning to ignore it so that it blends into the background noise of life, to the extent that you really don’t hear it anymore. Abstinent people never quite get that far, and always have to fight it. Acceptance that one can and will never drink again is a big part of sobriety.