Why You Never Lose Sober Time

Relapse doesn’t erase progress

Dave Tieff
Live Alcohol Free
Published in
7 min readSep 9

This past year I’ve connected with a multitude of alcohol-free people on Instagram, and I love it when they share how long they’ve been sober with an enthusiastic post.

Life’s triumphs should be celebrated out loud, and getting sober is a sweet victory — one that deserves a good selfie. I’d much rather see that than the obligatory “photo of my drink and feet” that is so prevalent on the interwebs.

There’s only one caveat when it comes to celebrating “sober time,” especially if you relapse, and it comes from my own personal experience:

Don’t let it define how your life is going — it’s just one signpost.

Here’s a short story that illustrates my point…

During my last stint in rehab, I was paired up with a roommate, who we will call “Chuck.”

Ashley Treatment Center in Havre de Grace, MD — my home away from home

Chuck was a burly guy in his early to mid-60s. He had a full head of long salt and pepper hair — that he brushed frequently — but the hardened looks of a blue-collar sexagenarian who is a part-time biker on weekends. The kind of guy who lights his Marlboro by flipping open a Zippo with his initials engraved on it.

I enjoyed confabbing with Chuck, and after our rehab day was done, we would shoot the breeze back and forth from our single beds just before “lights out.” This is typically when you talk about what brought you to rehab in the first place. Sort of like they do in prison — but with much comfier beds.

When that subject came up, I could see it was particularly devastating for Chuck. This is when the tough guy persona would vanish from his face and be instantly replaced with emotion. He had been sober for 27 years and ended up in rehab after one long weekend of heavy drinking.

Chuck often lamented about how he “lost 27 years” — sometimes to himself, mumbling under his breath, looking up at the ceiling.



Dave Tieff
Live Alcohol Free

Alcohol Free (AF) singer-songwriter & cyber journalist. Here to discuss everything sex, drugs, rock, and culture🤘🍄🎙💋