I recently heard someone say, “Hang out with people who have the same passions; not the people who harbor the same problems,” yet for those of us in recovery, it has been ingrained in us that we must go to meetings, or else our sobriety is on the line. I don’t disagree that meetings are a great way to remind myself that I should never drink again, but I am certainly not convinced that without them, I’m inevitably going to drink. If I’m that close to having a drink, I trust myself enough now, to do whatever it takes to get myself back on track. There are several ways to do this, and most of the time, it means spending time with a friend who is also in recovery. Going to a meeting is secondary; being aware that I am slipping, is primary. Because meetings are so conveniently available, they are a great reprieve during a sudden moment of craving (which I haven’t had in quite some time, btw), but they are not a cure-all. Meetings are also a wonderful crutch during early recovery, but like any crutch in life; once the wound has healed, it’s time to stand on your own two feet. Before going to treatment for six solid months, I desperately tried to become and remain sober, yet sometimes after a meeting, I was more thirsty for an alcoholic beverage than I was before I walked into the room. Hitting a bar on the way out didn’t sound so awful… and the liquor stores are everywhere.
So what does it take to remain sober?
First off, I’ve stopped telling myself that I’m simply not going to drink “Just for today.” What a load of crap – I know, and you know, that recovery means I am never going to have a goddamn drink, or pick up a drug, for the remainder of my entire life. Let’s make this abundantly clear. Let’s allow it to sink in… and welcome the anger that floods your body with this realization. Allow the grief to overcome you for a while. Embrace the full experience of knowing that you cannot drink or use drugs, ever again. When all of this intense emotion eventually passes (or flows through you, and then departs for good)… you have just entered into the lovely place of ultimate acceptance. This is where you’ll want to hang out for the remainder of your life. It’s a liberating space to navigate in, and it works for just about everything (acceptance of being chubby, bald, weird, etc…). It’s the key to long-term, eternal sobriety. It’s like you are saying, “No matter what… I will not pick up a drink or use a drug…” PERIOD.
It’s time we reconditioned our thinking. This is not the 1930’s. People are evolving. Self-awareness is trending. Institutions are becoming obsolete because people are waking up and discovering their own innate sovereignty. Because I’m a person who was submerged in religious fear as a child, and then spent most of my adult life trying to break free from that fear, I’m thoroughly convinced that fear is not the answer to overcoming anything; addictions included. If I buy into the belief that my sobriety rides on the thin line of making a meeting every other day (or whatever), then I’m pretty much thoroughly f*cked. What if one unfortunate day, I become stranded on a deserted island and I’m inadvertently surrounded by fermenting fruit… Here I am completely caught off guard… yet NO MEETINGS? I mean, come ON! We’ve got to realize that we DO have the inner power to overcome our addictions, and all it takes is a few ingredients: Willingness, Acceptance and Self-Awareness (knowing what I am thinking and feeling every moment, yet not buying into my thoughts, or acting out in my emotions). Sprinkle on the continuous attitude of “learning-to-LOVE-life-because-it’s-flippin’-WONDERFUL,” and you’ve just created a successful concoction of ULTIMATE RECOVERY.
I recall going to a meeting with my grandfather, who was only there to support me, a few years ago (prior to treatment). I stayed a few minutes afterward to talk to a woman who offered her sponsorship. When I got back into the truck with my grandpa, I mentioned that the woman had twenty-eight year’s sober. My grandfather’s eyes bugged out of his head, “AND SHE’S STILL GOING TO MEETINGS!?” His comment floored me. I couldn’t stop laughing during the ride home. Back then, I thought that he was clueless about recovery, and that I knew a great deal more than him. It’s funny… he always told me I make things too difficult for myself, and his answer to getting sober was simple. “Stop drinking.” What a concept! Abstinence is the only cure for addiction. Once you learn to accept your inability to drink or use drugs, you’ll need to recondition the way you think about life… THIS is where your journey begins. How you think, directly influences your course of action, so it’s imperative to become the watcher of your mind, and to take control of your thoughts and behaviors.
I am not an expert, but I am one of those alcoholic/drug addicts who attempted to get sober by going to meetings for several years to no avail. It’s the same exact thing as going to church to find God. God is not confined in a room built by the hands of man… Your sobriety doesn’t exist inside the institution of AA or NA. It’s within YOU. You have everything you need to become and to remain sober. Know this, and own it. And for goddsake, figure out what you are passionate about, and go hang out with people who are doing the same thing. Surround yourself in an uplifting environment instead of places that remind you of the awful past. Get moving forward in your recovery. Life is a wonderful playground, filled with laughter and unlimited opportunity, when you aren’t stuffed inside a room getting high, or reminding yourself what it was like.
Please, comments are incredibly welcome…