Sobriety — what is it?
Does an A.A member still have sobriety if they take diet pills (ephedra free) to manage weight? If not, what is the difference between managing your weight with smoking?
A.A. deals with not drinking alcohol and anyone that is not drinking can be said to be sober.
Coming up with a definition of sobriety that everyone in A.A. could agree upon would be impossible, so in A.A talking about sobriety is usually done in the context of alcohol because that is the only thing we all have in common.
Apart from not drinking, defining "sobriety" is so complicated that in the practical sense it is typically left to the individual to define for themselves.
To illustrate how complicated this can get:
To some "sobriety" is simply not swallowing alcohol.
Some think they are not sober if they use any drugs at all.
Others limit it to illegal drugs or non-prescribed drugs.
Often heard is "any mood altering substance" (which is a phrase that comes from the Basic Text of NA, not the Big Book).
An A.A. member taking prescribed narcotics for severe pain might consider themselves "sober" but would also think they had lost their sobriety if they used the same narcotics to get high in the absence of physical pain.
Some people feel that any addictive behavior destroys their sobriety, as might be the case with an alcoholic/compulsive gambler. A former gambler may consider sobriety lost if they buy a lottery ticket while most people in A.A. would not think of lottery tickets in terms of their sobriety.
A person might even think of themselves as sober if they smoke medically prescribed and legal marijuana but not sober if they don't have a legitimate medical reason to smoke it.
People commonly take drugs like nicotine and caffeine in A.A. meetings but might consider sobriety lost if different stimulants were taken.
Even "emotional sobriety" is a term heard in meetings. Some people include control over behaviors like excessive shopping or sex as necessary for their own sobriety.
Subjects like diet pills (with or without ephedra) complicate the subject further.
With complicated subjects like this the newcomer typically comes up with their own definition of what they want their ideal behaviors to be and that becomes their own unique definition of "sobriety." Sponsors, personal inventory, meditation and prayer can be helpful in deciding what you will consider acceptable for your own sobriety.
Page 69 of The Big Book has a discussion on dealing with problems other than alcohol (like sex). Part of the advice given is:
In other words, we treat sex as we would any other problem. In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come, if we want it.
Since this is a website from an A.A. perspective we will leave the answer at that. We do not
know what "sobriety" might mean in other fellowships or to people that have problems apart from drinking too much alcohol.