On the road and out of steam- so here’s one from the archives.
Inevitably I have someone come up after a recovery meeting to ask me what is the secret to long term sobriety and recovery. It is usually someone new to the program, that has attended meetings routinely on the weekends for a while, and has decided that now they are “really serious” about recovery. I know I did the same thing many years ago, asking my temporary sponsor as he explained his thoughts on the twelve steps, “but how do you do it for the rest of your life?” Apparently I didn’t get an exactly inspirational answer since I can’t remember his response. Neither did I stay in AA after I had finished my ninety meetings in ninety days after rehab, but I still credit much of my successful recovery program to the things I learned in those meetings.
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In retrospect it is easy for me to see why my sponsor didn’t exactly wow me with a response to my question because I was already doing what it took to stay sober. I just needed to keep doing for the rest of my life, but oh how I craved that there was something more. There had to be some kind of ancient magic, secret society, or a mystical panacea that was necessary- I mean surely it had to be a pretty complex solution to solve this problem I had battled over the years… but it’s not.
The recovering alcoholic is no different than the professional athlete or concert pianist in the fact that we must train every day. Practice. Practice. Practice. Same workout, same practice routines, and an unending dedication to the single purpose of improving one’s life- we must constantly train our brains to respond quickly to temptation, instinctively avoid dangerous situations, and maintain a solid emotional balance.
Regardless if it is NA, AA, or a personal recovery program the key to its effectiveness is action and dedication. Like the back of the shampoo bottle- wash, rinse, repeat. If the routine becomes too monotonous, mix it up! There is only one person responsible for recovery and that is you. NO program will keep you sober; no counselor can keep you safe.
What is TDA’s secret of long term sobriety? Find a program, make a program, any program… and just do it.