Dr. Allen Berger, Ph.D. uses his own life experiences and personal development to help others. In his words, “Each person has a true, lovable self that wants to come out.”
His professional mission is to help every person reclaim that personal true self, to break the cycle of our society that has become so focused on having rather than on being.
In his most recent book, 12 Smart Things to Do When the Booze and Drugs Are Gone: Choosing Emotional Sobriety Through Self-Awareness and Right Action, Dr. Berger tells the reader that being sober is not enough. It is a great first step, and it is needed in order to take any other steps of personal growth, but quitting drug and alcohol use is just the beginning.
“The next step is taking responsibility for the emotional immaturity that fuels our addictive personality and has a tremendous impact on ourselves and others,” he says. This is what the mental health and substance abuse treatment field call “emotional sobriety.”
So what is emotional sobriety? Sometimes it is quite simply tolerating what you are feeling, without trying to escape from it, or medicate it with drugs, alcohol, or a behavior that offers relief. Seeing your emotions for exactly what they are, for better or worse, and feeling them, no matter how painful in the moment, and allowing them to be whatever they are, is essentially the work of attaining emotional sobriety.
The abuse of substances stunts a person emotionally. If you start smoking pot at age 12, some part of your emotional psyche will stop evolving at that point. If you continue smoking pot, and then start drinking and using other substances at a later age, without any periods of abstinence, you will still be emotionally stunted in some ways at your age 12 emotional mindset.
The immaturity generally associated with drug addicts and alcoholics is obvious when looking at celebrities who have been abusing substances for a while. Child stars, like Macaulay Culkin, Brad Renfro, and Drew Barrymore, had difficult paths of drug addiction that started at an early age.
It seems Macaulay has still not matured emotionally, as evidenced by his short-lived marriage at age 18, and his ongoing legal repercussions from an addiction to prescription pills and marijuana.
Brad Renfro’s emotional maturity hit a peak while delivering his portrayal of the young murder witness in The Client. The disturbed character leaked into his personal life, leading him to a heroin addiction, and subsequent fatal overdose at age 25.
Drew Barrymore is the one, of these three, who got sober. With years of addiction, she has worked hard to stay clean, but her emotional sobriety is still arguably, in the works. Who marries Tom Green?!