I am free from addiction and I’m now a substance abuse counselor. To me, the definition of sobriety is “not doing something you really want to do.” 

If you’re living sober, you’re staying away from the actions, places, people, and substances that got you in trouble in the first place. From the outside, you’re recovered, but odds are, your mind is still consumed with the desire to recapture that feeling you were chasing in the first place. 

Before becoming involved in 180 Degree Ministries, the program that ultimately became not only my saving grace but my platform, I tried out other alcohol abuse programs. There, I met a man who had been sober for fourteen years. However, at every meeting, he would still introduce himself as an alcoholic. That’s how he saw himself, even after over a decade of sobriety. He was still not free from addiction.

That’s why sobriety isn’t the goal. Freedom is.

Getting sober is a physical process. It’s about cleansing your system and regaining control of your mind and your life. It’s an important step, but sobriety shouldn’t stop there. Becoming free is a mental process. It’s relearning who you are and restructuring your core beliefs. It’s knowing that we are forgiven. It’s becoming the person you were meant to be by seeing yourself through the eyes of God.

In my new book from Felonies to Freedom: Strategies to Become Who You Were Meant to Be, I use the analogy of the city dog versus the country dog to illustrate the difference between sobriety and freedom. The city dog represents sobriety. It spends most of its time inside or in a fenced yard. However, when given the opportunity, it will almost always take off running, thinking that there’s something better out there. The country dog on the other hand has acres to roam free, but more often than not you’ll find him on his master’s porch. That’s because the country dog knows what’s out there, and prefers the peace and comfort of the porch instead.

That’s the difference between bondage and freedom; between sobriety and freedom.

I don’t believe that addiction is a disease. I believe it is a symptom of a diseased belief system. When you realize you’re already free in God’s eyes at the moment of your salvation, you can begin to rewrite the story of your life and step into your truest self. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever face temptation again, because the fact of the matter is that it will always be there. But, eventually, you’ll start to see that isn’t who you want to be, and it isn’t who you are anymore. It’s not an easy process, no one ever said it would be. It takes grit, honesty, and a lot of courage, but in the end, it’s a small price to pay for a life without bondage. 

So, whether you’re just starting your journey to overcoming addiction or you’ve abstained from substances for years, remember that the goal isn’t just to get sober, it’s to be free.