In this AA speaker tape, Tom B. Jr. speaks about emotional sobriety at a 1996 AA conference.

What is emotional sobriety? As Tom explains, it is less about abstinence and more about growing spiritually and achieving a deeper sense of emotional balance and well-being. Tom, who was sober 31 years at the time of this talk, says he noticed a phenomenon in the rooms, where people show up, stop drinking, and then ask, Well, I’m here. When do I get happy?

“Real learning is what this program gives to us, if we’re very careful about it,” Tom says. “Real learning is a permanent change in behavior that’s brought about by a sustained practice of the knowledge that you gain. You do it and you do it and you do it and you’re transformed, and you don’t know why. But you know it has something to do with this program.”

Tom describes getting sober as a rebirth of sorts, which is then followed by definite stages: infancy, then by what he calls “5-year menopause,” and further levels at which sobriety expands and changes, “until we reach the highest level of sobriety. It’s called purity of heart.”

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