Here is the full sentence:

You’re from Orinda, your father’s in commercial real estate and your mother’s 10 years sober.

  • 2
    According to my careful calculations, I've been sober for 48 years, drunk for around five. Apr 20, 2011 at 0:45

3 Answers 3


Hasn't had a (alcoholic) drink for ten years - presumably was an alcoholic and is now clean.

In the context presumably intended as a slur on the sort of person whose parents sell real estate and are recovering alcholics!

  • Speaking on the context of the sentence, I read it as more of a commentary on the town of Orinda and the types of people that live there. Apr 19, 2011 at 23:33
  • Sober can also refer to being intoxicant-free in a more general sense (such as drug-free). Though I do agree that "drug-free" is more common in that context, I have seen sober refer to non-alcoholic intoxicants.
    – msanford
    Apr 20, 2011 at 4:14

To be "10 years sober" means that the person has not used alcohol for 10 years.

You can also say, "I've been clean for 10 years" to mean you haven't used drugs in 10 years.

People often use the two terms together, "clean and sober for 10 years."


In the reported sentence sober means "not affected by alcohol; not drunk."

Other meanings of sober are:

  • serious, sensible, and solemn: a sober view of life
  • free from alcoholism; not habitually drinking alcohol
  • muted in color: a sober gray suit
  • Although the primary meaning of sober is indeed not drunk (and so allows for the possibility of one's having consumed a small amount of alcohol), it is practically never used in that sense in the formulations like 'has been sober for ___ months/years'; they are reserved for people who were alcoholics in the past and have been abstaining from alcohol altogether, in order to avoid relapsing into alcoholism.
    – jsw29
    Oct 4, 2022 at 19:53

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