Serenity Skin: Sober Tattoos | The Fix
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Serenity Skin: Sober Tattoos

Before they were adopted by hordes of hipsters, tattoos were the badass symbols of rock 'n' roll rebellion. But many people in recovery have also taken up the trend, permanently marking themselves to celebrate their sobriety and remind themselves of their plastered past.


  • Sober Bastard

    "My sobriety tat. The skulls represent a few horrible car accidents I've had while using. The Latin script at the top reads, 'The gods decided otherwise.' The whole thing isn't done yet, so you can't see the third skull. I also am planning to tattoo another skull in a spade on my calf. More to come!!"

    Photo via

  • Confucius Quotation

    "My recovery-oriented tattoo. It's a Confucius quote which says, 'Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but rising every time we fall.' And the cherry blossoms symbolize the transient, ever-changing flow of life."

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  • Finger of Fate

    "I decided to imprint the AA symbol on my index finger because it's my first finger and I wanted to always remind myself that sobriety was my first priority in life. I got the tat exactly when I had two years sober. When I first stopped using, I got a 'First Things First' bumper sticker for my car, so I guess you could say that was a test run for the tattoo."

  • Truth Is In God

    "I had this tattoo done about two years ago now. It was my first tattoo and a fairly large one at that. I'd given the design quite a lot of thought since it would be plastered across my chest for the rest of my life. I wanted the piece to convey that one can find true happiness in life if willing to believe in something greater than oneself. As for the font, I wanted something a little dark to remind myself of where I have been and where I never want to go again. Plus it looks kind of badass!"

  • Tree of Life

    "I got my first recovery tattoo on my 40th birthday. I was a little over two months sober. It is a Tree of Life to represent my new life and my new focus on my emotional and spiritual growth."

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  • Feeling Butterflies

    A perfect expression of new-found freedom and change.

    --Tatoo artist Tim Baxley

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  • Self Discipline

    "Self discipline is my motto to carry me through my cravings. I'm soon going to get another tattoo in the same script on my other arm but I'm still thinking about the exact words."

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  • By the Grace of God

    "My only AA related tattoo."

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  • NA

    "Three of us got it, two are still going."

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  • Sober Monkey

    "Did this one on Lucas, an old friend from Heidelberg High School. This piece was put together in late '09 at Ghost Print Gallery Tattoo."

    --Tattoo artist Jesse Smith

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  • Cross/Galatians 5

    "I got this tat after being sober six months. I've since relapsed, but this tattoo's giving me the strength to get back on the wagon. I'm a Christian—the cross represents Christ. The triquetra centered in the cross represents the Holy Trinity. The light at the top is for John 8:12 (I am the light of the world). One side of the wings represents Psalm 124:7 (We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare). The other side of the wings is Isiah 40:31 (But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles). At the bottom it says Gal 5 (Galations 5:1): It is for freedom that Christ has set you free, stand firm therefore, and do not let yourself be bound again by a yoke of slavery."

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  • Serenity Prayer

    A great cheat sheet for the person standing nearby who forgets how the meeting ends.

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  • Be Sober Be Vigilant

    Must have been a different kind of chest pain.

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  • One Day at a Time

    "Faithful member of the program, seven months sober. I live by this."

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  • Want and Need

    Two different things.

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  • Sober

    "I think that this was a reminder, of what he didn't want."

    --Tattoo artist Darrin White

     

    Dr. Belisa Vranich is Sex and Health Editor at Men's Fitness, life coach at Shape magazine, and a Fitness Advisory Board member at Golds Gym. She's a clinical psychologist with a specialization in sex and relationships and an expert contributor to The Fix.

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By Belisa Vranich 08/31/11

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