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When someone is not under the influence of alcohol, you call them sober. Is there a similar word for not under the influence of mind-altering drugs?

An example usage would be:

I am one of the few who listens to Radiohead or Dave Matthews while ________.

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  • In addition to what Matt said, clean is a bit ambiguous; it could also mean that you are freshly showered while listening to the music. When you say sober, everyone knows you are talking about alcohol.
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 11:37
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    No they don't. There are many instances where sober equates to solemn or level-headed. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 12:19
  • In this sentence, "clean" could be ambiguous. However, more generally, if a drugs context has been mentioned, "clean" will be clear. Alternatively, if you use a phrase like "I've been clean for 3 months" it would be clear that you weren't talking about being washed. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 16:11
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    @starsplusplus Unless you are a hippy, in which case either use of the phrase "clean for 3 months" would be a feat.
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 2:17
  • ...(it doesn't answer the question, but) while it was 1994. Can't you youths expand a bit?
    – Jack Ryan
    Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 13:08

8 Answers 8

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The obvious answer is "not high".

mplungjan suggests clean, but that would imply that you have given up drugs, not just that you aren't high at the moment.

If you used sober that would be fine, because if someone is sober, then they are not high. Dictionary definitions suggest that sober is only used with alcohol, but I think extending it to other drugs makes sense.

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    Not all drugs make you high. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 16:13
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    @starsplusplus But in this case I did ask specifically about "mind altering drugs".
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:22
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    @IQAndreas Right, but not all "mind-altering drugs" make you high. Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 9:37
  • I disagree with your statement that being clean means you have given up on drugs completely; often, people say that they are "clean at the moment" and the like, which shows it can be used for a specific time. Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 20:07
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Straight used to be an answer to this question, but the 70s-90s are gone, and the language has moved on.

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  • Straight also refers to never having smoked if I remember right
    – mplungjan
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 14:26
  • @mplungjan: Yes, but not always to the exclusion of those who merely not currently taking drugs. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 15:02
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    I still hear it used to mean "not on drugs at the moment" today. It does have other meanings though, so context is important.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 16:45
  • We used to use the phrase 'straight, sane and sober' in that sort of context . . .but that would be about 1971 . . .
    – peterG
    Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 1:45
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    This sounds like the best fit to the example sentence in the question.
    – user184130
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 12:30
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I first suggested Clean but I would think the most attractive, all compassing would be

I am one of the few who listens to Radiohead or Dave Matthews while not under the influence.

That would not focus on drugs alone but would definitely include them

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  • Honestly I would take that to mean "under the influence of alcohol" unless it was specifically clarified, or some clearer context was given from the sentence before or something. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 16:13
  • "Not on drugs" is shorter and less euphemistic ;) Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 16:14
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    Post as answer and I will vote it up
    – mplungjan
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 16:35
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"Clean" is fairly widely understood, but you need to have a specific context indicating drugs somehow otherwise it would be understood to mean "not dirty". In the sentence you gave, without any other context it would mean "not dirty".

There are a range of other answers given here, but I think that they're all less clear/longer/more ambiguous than simply "not on drugs".

I am one of the few who listens to Radiohead or Dave Matthews while not on drugs.

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'Sober' is used in drug detox communities unrelated to alcohol. In common parlance it refers to 'not drunk' but its meaning is definitely applicable to other contexts.

'Clean' in a drug context generally implies that the person who's clean has quit the drug permanently. You could say you've been 'clean for two hours' but only as a joke.

If you've just come down from a drug high, you could say you're 'sober', but not 'clean'.

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  • Not under the influence does not mean that you are clean, merely; currently sober. +1 for explaining the difference between clean and sober; the reason there is a saying "clean and sober".
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 18:57
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" . . . while unimpaired by drugs, licit and/or illicit."

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Like many others have suggested before, it's probably best and easier, to say you're not XXX. After all if I do not drink or take any drugs, I am like any other normal, lucid, stone-cold sober person.

I am one of the few who listens to Radiohead or Dave Matthews while not...

Just realized I may have hit upon the word which fits the OP's request.

I am one of the few who listens to Radiohead or Dave Matthews while remaining lucid. CDO

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    Lucid also implies you aren't groggy from lack of sleep (or just general mental incapacity). It works in this context, but isn't exactly "the opposite".
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 13:14
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To not be under the influence is to be sober. They use it at Alcoholics Anonymous and other drug rehabilitations.

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