What is Emotional Sobriety?

Did you know Sobriety is not just for the drug addict or alcoholic? 

It’s for all of us. 

I want to reframe the term Sobriety. In my experience, it is not about getting treatment for addiction, it is about using our mindfulness and will to learn how we really discover who we have really been, observing our emotional status along with our mental and physical health. It is the uncovering and practice of being a new version of ourselves that is self-reliant, emotionally stable, mentally clear. To remove the reasons we may drink, smoke, have affairs, are dishonest, jealous, afraid, etc. Emotional Sobriety is a state of overall clarity, to be able to master levelheadedness, and feel peace. It’s mature, poised, healthy, and heart-centered living. It grants the opportunity to feel through things in a more comprehensive and healthy way.

  • Emotional Sobriety Training (EMSO) can of course assist in recovery from drugs and alcohol, as well as help people in their life with the painful emotions which may cause mental health issues. These feelings of anger, shame, fear, etc. come from believing that we are inadequate, unimportant, trickable, etc. These beliefs and emotions lead us to use behaviors of survival, which are compulsive reactions to our past trauma. This leads us to maintain an Intoxicated Identity. The “Mr. Hyde” phenomenon. 
  • We know that emotions are chemicals and we can become addicted to making these chemicals in our bodies. These are biochemicals. Can our Emotional Insobriety, therefore, be our primary problem? Dependance on the emotions we have been making since childhood? Biochemical addiction that followed us up to this day? And the compulsion of our ego’s will to maintain them. Are we being puppeted by past false beliefs about ourselves which allow these chemicals to be readily made? Can we see that the reason we turn into someone we don’t recognize and don’t intend on becoming, is a reaction to our past trauma? It’s why we become Mr. Hyde—lie, defend, argue, fight, steal, drink, use drugs, etc. 
  • Even those of us who never even took a drink or tried drugs are not necessarily healthy. We still become jealous, belligerent, manipulative; we are not levelheaded, clear, or peaceful in the majority of our lives. When we realize our pain is our reason for the intoxication, our substance abuse was not the problem after all. And addiction recovery is not the final solution. 
  • Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation may be essential programs to help an alcohol problem, creating physical sobriety or getting clean, yet getting truly sober requires a person to take a better and whole assessment and repair of their human existence. Looking at the real reason for Mr. Hyde making an appearance in the first place. What we feel precedes it. Up until now, we have not had as thorough a curriculum to call you out of your comfort zone and ask more of you to really save yourself and get sober once and for all. To take your recovery into your own hands, to remove the negative emotions, to go from “dry drunk” to truly “happy, joyous and free”, to take long-term addiction and finally find that you were the remedy all along. To not get stuck in spiritual pride or sobriety programs, but learn regulating feelings, perspective-shifting, and self-responsibility over all things in your life, allowing you to achieve emotional sobriety giving you complete control of your emotional climate
  • Bill W. of A.A. said perhaps the 12 steps wouldn’t be enough.

“Those adolescent urges that so many of us have for top approval, perfect security, and perfect romance…prove to be an impossible way of life… still finding ourselves unable to get off the emotional merry-go-round…”

  • This is why EMSO Training was developed (as I believe, Bill would have wanted it) requiring real maturity, honesty, and work.

“How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result, and so into easy, happy, and good living… I think it can work out with emotional sobriety. If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand.”

As CEO of Leveheaded Doc, I have lost people that I love to relapse. I know that Emotional Sobriety is what they were missing and they did not have the help it offers in all of their relationships (long or short-term) that could spark their negative feelings. I believe working this EMSO curriculum into their life would have saved their life. Not just keeping them clean and in a recovery program, but feeling content and control of their lives. Additionally, people not in recovery or a 12-Step program continue to struggle in their ability to maintain strong emotional and habitual control. I have witnessed the majority of the people around me not knowing how to really seek help for their negative and often hidden feelings of despair, hysteria, fear, and erratic behaviors of dishonesty, gossip, jealousy, etc. Sure, they are not drug addicts, but they could not control their compulsions and that sounds the same to me as any other addict. 

I theorize that all physical addictions like substance abuse, (alcohol, drugs, etc) are born of false self-beliefs, biochemical addiction, discontent, hopelessness, codependency, and insecurity due to emotional insobriety. Can we unravel these false beliefs about ourselves via a completely new rehab experience? Can we utilize a different kind of support to alter our self-esteem, unearth our lies and truly attain EMSO? 

Ingrid Mathieu, author of Recovering Spirituality – Achieving Emotional Sobriety in Your Spiritual Practice said 

Integrating the fullness of the human condition into one’s spiritual practice is what leads to emotional sobriety.”  

In an article in Psychology Today, she warns not to fall into the trap of Spiritual bypass of what I would call “emotional chaos” while in a 12 step program. 

“…involves bolstering our defenses rather than our humility. Bypass involves grasping rather than gratitude, arriving rather than being, avoiding rather than accepting.” 

I’d ask, how about overcoming your emotional chaos completely? So that the previous things you have struggled with are never an issue for you again, and you no longer make the same chemical of anger, fear, or embarrassment around the same areas of your life. EMSO Training is not a “program.” We are not going to lean on spiritual bypass, mere Emotional Intelligence, abstinence, or stuffing emotions down. In my book, The You ‘ve Never Met, you won’t find yourself in another program. You instead find a comprehensive guide on how to not simply outsmart your negative emotions, but overcome your predisposition to creating them for survival. Therefore, taking you from a person with an addiction to a person who takes action and from suffering to mindfulness & sobriety. When we attain true sobriety we overcome addiction, become levelheaded, clear, and full of peace, without therapy or focusing all of our time and will on an A.A. or N.A program. We don’t only focus on a program or anonymous treatment because we aren’t all drug addicts or alcoholics. We arent all sex addicts or gamblers. We aren’t all behaving in the same ways. Yet we are all the same. We have all suffered, and for this reason, we are not anonymous. We are not ashamed of our past, or our behaviors. We flaunt our failures day-to-day because we have come so far from them. We are Emotional Sobriety pioneers. We are humble, mature, and ready for life this time. With EMSO we become new people, the people we were meant to be…not the people trauma made us become. We are called at this time to sober up, emotionally speaking. 

Dr. Andrea Vitz,
EMSO Training


The Next Frontier : Emotional Sobriety by Bill Wilson Copyright © AA Grapevine, Inc, January 1958
Andrea Vitz : The You You’ve Never Met – How to Overcome Pain and Chaos in all of Your Relationships by Sobering Up, Emotionally Speaking.
Ingrid Mathieu : Recovering Spirituality – Achieving Emotional Sobriety in Your Spiritual Practice
Psychology Today – Ingrid Mathieu  : What Is Emotional Sobriety? Hint: It doesn’t necessarily equal “happy, joyous, and free.” 

Written by: Dr. Andrea Vitz, DC
May 2021

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