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Perspective: The New Sober

A new and innovative take on what it means to be sober and how strict abstinence-only treatment approaches can be stigmatizing and detrimental to addicts in need of help.
by K. Lanktree Modified: May 8, 2014 at 10:02 am •  Published: May 8, 2014

I couldn't get myself out of bed in the morning without dope, let alone do anything other than find money for drugs, get drugs and then do said drugs. That was my life, and it was a hell I thought I was to be stuck in forever. I truly believed I was just too far gone.

Then I found Methadone, and it saved my life.

Methadone patients are a really great example that generates conflicting views about sobriety. Some strongly believe that an addict being treated with methadone is by no means sober. Methadone, like heroin or Oxycontin, is in fact an opiate. Therefore, many hold the view that taking Methadone daily in place of the drug of abuse is simply swapping one addiction for another.

That’s why a methadone patient is far from being in a sober state, regardless if they've stopped using needles and snorting or abusing their drug of choice. They are still on an opiate; therefore they are dirty. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

To compare the state of my life when I was using to where I am now, there is just no way you can tell me that I have not achieved sobriety. The changes are absolutely astonishing, and I am able to live a life free of IV drug use, drug abuse and the pain of an active addiction.

What it means to be sober is always going to be a debatable topic. People hold conflicting views on what sobriety really means and are often extremely passionate about it.

The strictest definition seems to be the belief that abstinence from any and all altering substances is required to hold that golden title of sobriety.

In all honesty though, is that even a realistic expectation? Absolutely no altering substances. None. Think about that for a second.

So many different things could be tossed into that extremely broad definition. By that standard, only a very small group of people would be able to consider themselves sober.

Drink Coffee? Take ANY medications at all? Smoke? Drink? Well according to this stance, you're all just as dirty as I am.

Of course, not everyone agrees that moving away from the abstinence only definition of sobriety is a good idea. Approaches such as methadone maintenance, treatment of alcoholism through daily regulated dispensing of booze to addicts and various other harm reduction approaches are often viewed as highly controversial, even though reports indicate they’re effective.

So, why are we as a society so stuck in this outdated and stigmatizing view of addiction and its various treatment methods?

When highly effective options are available to help give addicts their lives back, we should in no way be stigmatizing their use, nor holding such negative views and unrealistic expectations.

Whatever you believe to be the true meaning of sobriety, you need only hold yourself to that standard and not everyone else around you.

Such an unattainable definition of sobriety only damages and repels those who desperately need treatment from seeking the proper and necessary help, as it feels like a hopelessly impossible task. Effective treatment methods are available that have the potential to change the lives of addicts in drastic and positive ways.

Let's stop guilting and shaming them away from accessing these life-saving treatment options and give them hope that a sober, functional life is within reach.

K. Lanktree is a NewsOK contributor, Freelance Writer, Former IV Drug User, Methadone Patient and Harm Reduction Advocate. For more information, check out her blog.

by K. Lanktree
NewsOK Contributor
K. Lanktree is a Freelance Writer, Former IV Drug User, Methadone Patient & Harm Reduction Advocate. She is dedicated to reducing the stigma and discrimination of Addiction and IV Drug Users through education, writing and poetry.
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