What Does “Sober” Mean?

Type the word “sober” into a search engine such as Google and get a definition like this: “not affected by alcohol; not drunk.” Look to a more official source, like dictionary.com and you’ll get a range of definitions including:

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  • “Not intoxicated or drunk”

  • “Habitually temperate, especially in use of liquor”

  • “Quiet or sedate in demeanor, as persons”

  • “Marked by seriousness, gravity solemnity, etc;”

  • “Free from excess, extravagance, or exaggeration”

  • “Showing self-control”

  • “Sane or rational”

A study published in 2015 in Addiction Biology determined using MRI scans that people recovering from alcoholism and abstaining from alcohol showed progress in the regeneration of parts of their brain. Patients were tested after they became alcohol free, with follow up tests in one week, one month and seven and a half months.

Researchers were able to identify that those who abstained from drinking received significant growth in the volume of several key brain regions – including the frontal lobe and cerebellum.

At one and a half weeks, patients showed “significant volume increases in frontal, parietal and occipital gray matter and white matter, total cortical grey matter and total lobar white matter, thalamus and cerebellum.” These volume increases were notably greater within the first one week to one month, rather than the one month to seven and a half months. However overall, there was a non-linear increase in grey and white matter. Interestingly, non-smokers showed an increase in the improvement of processing speed as their white and grey matter increased.

Without delving too deeply into the neuroscience of sobriety, one thing is certain: when alcoholics stop drinking, they cease the process of regularly killing off millions of brain cells on a daily basis, which is  what alcohol does. This can only be beneficial to their mental and physical health.

Are you finding it hard to stay sober? If you are struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, or another issue which is causing you difficulty in your mental health, you are not alone.

If you need help with your recovery, please call our confidential phone lines:

You’re welcome to call our team anytime – 24-HRS A DAY.

We strive to offer as much information as possible over the phone at all times. However, please note that the level of information we can provide varies at different times of the day and week, according to the following schedule:

  • Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm – Fully staffed admissions office. Medical staff and therapists are available.
  • Monday to Friday, 5 pm to 11 pm – Admissions staff member may be available. The nursing staff also assists in managing any enquiries.
  • Monday to Friday, 11 pm to 9 am – Message service available.  On duty nursing staff may be able to answer your call.
  • Saturday and Sunday – Nursing staff available.  Closed for admissions over the weekend.


  • From the Republic of Ireland, please call us on: 0035 341 214 5111

  • For international enquiries, please call: +353 41 214 5111

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