As a newcomer to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), I was informed that there were three crucial elements needed to achieve sobriety:
- A sobriety date
- A homegroup
- A sponsor
While the concept of a sobriety date may seem obvious to seasoned members, many newcomers struggle to grasp its significance and purpose. Let’s delve into what a sobriety date represents and why it matters.
Understanding the Sobriety Date
Traditionally, for members of AA, the sobriety date marks the day they stop consuming all mind-altering substances, including alcohol.
With the advent of legalized marijuana in several states and an increasing number of mood-altering and painkiller prescriptions, this traditional definition has come under scrutiny. It is now common to witness people adjusting their sobriety dates once they decide to liberate themselves from these mind-altering substances.
The sobriety date also holds significance as AA has traditionally recognized periods of sobriety. Milestones such as 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, six months, nine months, and anniversaries of one or more years have been celebrated at special “birthday” meetings. During these gatherings, both new and seasoned members receive “chips” or tokens of their sobriety journey and often have the opportunity to share their experiences in front of their homegroups, sometimes with non-alcoholic family members present.
In recent decades, this practice has shifted somewhat, with many meetings celebrating milestones and birthdays more frequently. Additionally, rehabilitation centers have introduced daily acknowledgments, with individuals declaring, “I have 17 days today” and the like. Despite no requests for daily sobriety declarations, this practice has permeated many AA meetings.
My Stand on Counting Days
I am candidly not a fan of the practice of counting days. I believe newcomers do not need, nor should they receive, public recognition for each day they remain sober. After all, as the saying goes, “The ego has to be smashed!”
In my view, there is an innate humility in quietly working towards sobriety milestones. Waiting until it’s time to celebrate with everyone else, in the same manner that millions have done before, fosters an environment of mutual support and humility – key components of a successful journey towards sobriety.