When I was new, I was told there were three things I had to have to get sober.
- A sobriety date.
- A homegroup.
- A sponsor.
While the sobriety date is a bit of a “duh” to those who have been around, newcomers often don’t grasp the importance of having one or even what it means.
It’s important to know what it is, and why it matters.
The sobriety date for AA’s has traditionally been the day one stops ingesting all mind-altering chemicals including alcohol.
With legalized marijuana now in several states and a sharp increase of mood altering and painkiller prescriptions, this traditional definition has come under attack. It’s common to hear people reset their sobriety dates once they decide to be free of these mind-altering chemicals.
Another reason the sobriety date is important is AA’s celebrate periods of sobriety. Milestones like “30 days” “60 days” “90 days” “six months” “9 months” and one + year anniversaries have traditionally been called out at special “birthday” meetings. These birthday meetings were a time for new people and old timers to get recognized with “chips” and were often offered a chance share in front of their home groups with non-alcoholic family in attendance.
In the past couple decades, this has changed a bit, as many meetings celebrate milestones and birthday at each one. Also, rehabs have introduced the concept of observing days, as in “I have 17 days today… pause, applause.” These rehab-based rituals have now crept into AA meetings despite no requests for people to let us know how many of “the several days” that they have. It also seems there is no stopping this practice.
I strongly dislike this practice of counting days. Newcomers don’t need, nor should they get, a public spotlight for every day they stay sober. “The ego has to be smashed!” Plus, there is real humility to be gained in silently working towards sobriety, and waiting until it’s time to celebrate with everyone else in the same way millions of everyone else has.
Plus, there is real humility to be gained in silently working steadily towards one’s sobriety milestone, and waiting until it’s time to celebrate with everyone else in the same way millions of everyone else has.