The 7 Biggest Differences Between Sober People and Normies

By Kelly Fitzgerald Junco 10/27/16

Number 5: Sober people must always be mindful of alcohol.

Cartoon image of a man saying "No" while a woman holds up a drink.
Not alien, but different.

When you’re on the extreme end of the spectrum like I was, it can feel like sober people are aliens. I was appalled by sober people before I became one. I honestly didn’t know one, or care to know one. I didn’t realize recovery was a thing. Sure, I had heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, but I didn’t know there were happy recovering alcoholics. I didn’t know they come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, and races. Once I became one, I realized sober people aren’t as “alien” as we think. But there are a lot of differences between sober people and “normies,” besides the obvious: we don’t drink and they do. Here are the biggest differences between sober people and drinkers.

  1. We are wired differently.

I think this is the whole reason normies and sober people have different relationships with alcohol. I truly believe we are wired differently. But what does this mean? It can mean different things to different types of drinkers. In my case, drinking alcohol was never fun for me when having just one. I was wired to drink as many drinks as I could as fast as I could. Not only that, alcohol affected me differently. I suffered severe blackouts where I could remember almost nothing about an entire night. I never knew when these blackouts would come on. It could be after three drinks or ten. Non-alcoholics are not affected by alcohol in this way and don’t have a destructive relationship with this dangerous substance.

  1. We see the world in a different way.

There’s something to be said for sobriety and awareness, they kind of go hand-in-hand. Many of us who have been drinking heavily do so to numb our feelings. Once we are no longer numbing them, we become much more self-aware. It’s not to say that normies can’t be self-aware, but people in recovery view the world differently. The trials and tribulations we have been through in our drinking days and in our recovery are much different than normies. Getting through the darkest days of our life and seeing the other side changes us in a significant way.

  1. Sober people view their recovery in a before/after sense.

Another way we are different from normies is that we view our lives in a before and after sense as it pertains to our recovery. Getting sober can be the hardest and most important decision we ever make it. Personally, I now view my life as before I got sober and after I got sober. Life is just different now. There are a ton of memories that are blurry and unclear to me from my drinking days and today I am much more in tune with myself and my life. When I talk about my life and events there is a before/after sense to it, an experience most normies might not relate to.

  1. Our gratitude levels are different.

An attitude of gratitude is something sober people are very familiar with. I feel like gratitude is an automatic byproduct of sobriety. Gratitude isn’t something I ever experienced in my life before I got sober. I was never really grateful for anything because I was always searching for more, whether that was more alcohol, more drugs, more men, or material goods. Through recovery I have learned to be grateful for each moment and for waking up each day sober and alive. Normies might not know this gratitude, or they might know it at a different level. When you’ve been to hell and back, your gratitude levels get pretty deep. There’s something about sobriety that brings you to a deeper understanding of inner peace and gratitude.

  1. Sober people must always be mindful of alcohol.

One thing sober people must always be mindful of is alcohol. Normies don’t have to be. We constantly have to think of where we’re going and if there will be alcohol there, if there will be alcohol in food or beverages, if we will be triggered by a mini bar in a hotel, or if someone will try to buy us a birthday drink. If you’re like me, you smell your drink before you take it at a restaurant just to be sure it is what you ordered. Putting our recovery first, we have to make sure we can co-exist with alcohol if we have to, or if we need to avoid it altogether. This manner of living is much different from normies. They are not threatened by alcohol and don’t need to view the world like that.

  1. Sober people have been spiritually awakened (or had a shift in consciousness).

If you’re sober, I’m sure you’ve heard the term spiritual awakening. I never knew what the heck a spiritual awakening was until I got sober and when I first heard about it, I wasn’t sure I wanted to experience one. Honestly, it sounded freaky. Then I indulged in some literature and talked to other sober people and I learned that a spiritual awakening is actually a shift in consciousness. I like to think about it has my light bulb switching on. When I was drinking I didn’t even know people had light bulbs or a spirit. Normies who have worked on self-discovery and meditation may be awakened themselves, but this experience is different from the experience of being awakened in recovery.

  1. Coping mechanisms

Normies and sober people have different coping mechanisms. I think as a society we aren’t taught how to cope. Growing up I didn’t understand what coping mechanisms were or why I needed them. One advantage of being sober is being able to learn these coping mechanisms by actively participating in recovery. Most importantly, I’ve learned which coping mechanisms I had previously used that weren’t healthy and no longer serve me. Normies may use the same coping mechanisms all their lives, even the ones that aren’t healthy. Society has taught us that having a drink after a long day is a good way to cope. Sober people understand this isn’t the case and it’s only a perception of a society where alcohol is a prominent figure. Working on ourselves and our life skills becomes a significant part of our healing as sober people.

Even though we have a lot of differences, neither normies nor sober people are aliens. We are all humans on this planet Earth and we could all benefit by understanding each other a bit more. Know these differences, respect them, and love each other anyway.

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Kelly Fitzgerald Junco is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like Huffington PostMediumThe FixRavishlySheKnowsElite Daily, and AfterPartyMagazine. You can find Kelly on Linkedin and Twitter.