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Clean vs. Sober

The terms, “clean” and “sober” are most often used in the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) fellowships, respectively. In NA, the language is addict and clean, and in AA, it’s alcoholic and sober. There is a lot of debate about what each means, but from a medical and recovery standpoint, they are one in the same. Out of respect to each fellowship, people will generally use the language of each group’s preference.

In NA literature, it is cautioned to not think of alcohol as different from other drugs. Addiction is addiction, and anyone who suffers from this disease must abstain from all drugs, alcohol included. If you have not taken a drink or a drug (both of which are drugs) it comes down to a matter of semantics on whether you are clean, sober, or clean and sober.

Another discussion that centers around the two terms involves time in recovery and the presence of a program. Some will say you may be clean off drugs, but your sobriety is dependent on whether you are working a program of recovery. The use of these terms can also vary from city to city, and basically boils down to with whom you are speaking. If you have not taken a drink or a drug, and prefer to call yourself clean, so be it. If you refer to yourself as sober, great! Clean and sober? Good for you, keep going!

The language of recovery may be different, but the goal is the same. Whether you are an addict, an alcoholic, an addict and an alcoholic, you have the disease of addiction. Abstinence from all mind-altering substances is the foundation of recovery. Some people will stop taking their drug of choice and continue to drink while saying they’re clean. Or, someone will stop drinking and continue to smoke marijuana while saying they’re sober. This is a slippery slope, and one that many people in recovery are adamantly against.

It is fairly safe to say, that if you consume any mind-altering chemicals, you are neither clean nor sober. The disease of addiction however, would like to tell you otherwise. It wants you to believe that you are 100% recovered and that taking anything that isn’t your drug of choice is perfectly safe. Don’t let your disease make this choice. If you are struggling with addiction, call us today and begin your own journey in recovery.

Clinical detox can come with the comforts of home. Serenity Recovery Center is the answer to your detox needs. Creating a modern and comfortable environment, our program offers the best practices for safety and compassion during withdrawals. Call us today for information on our program at the Encino Hospital Medical Center: 866.294.9401.