10 Tips To For Loving an Addict

The Following is an article I came across on the internet. It is a great breakdown of what to do and what to not do when living with and loving an addict. If you have a loved one that is struggling, you may want to read this. Addiction not only affects the addict but also the ones that are closest to the addict




1. Come face-to-face with reality.

Learning how to deal with reality is the most important first step in “surviving” when you love an addicted person. Although it may seem easier to stay in the “fantasy space” where you can continue to believe that things are going to magically get better, there is no such magic. Things will not get better just because you wish they would.

Coming face-to-face with reality means accepting that parts of your life may be out of control as a result of loving someone who is engaging in addictive behaviours. These addictions can include mind-altering substances such as drugs and alcohol, as well as mood-altering addictions such as eating disorders, compulsive over-spending, smoking, being “glued” to the internet, gambling or codependency in relationships.

You may be feeling a constant, gnawing worry that you live with every day. You may find yourself being asked for money often, and feeling guilty if you say no. Perhaps you are watching everything you say and do, in order to “keep peace” in your home and not make the addict angry. Or you may be asked to do favours for the addict on a consistent basis, such as watching their children or doing their errands, and you may not know how to say no.

Whatever your particular situation is, acceptance of what you are dealing with in your life is the first survival tip for loving an addicted person.

2. Discover how to love an addicted person — and stay healthy.

There are effective ways to deal with the addicted person in your life, just as there are ways that are not only ineffective but can also be dangerous. Learning to distinguish between them can save you a lot of time and can also produce much healthier results for you and your addicted loved one.

For example, learning how to set and maintain appropriate boundaries is a very important skill. You may need to explore the reasons why you have a problem doing that, and then learn some assertiveness techniques that will help you say “yes” when you mean yes, and “no” when you mean no.

Another way to keep yourself healthy while caring about an addicted person is to make sure you are looking after your own life and keeping a good balance with such things as work or volunteering, supportive friendships, fitness and good nutrition, and time for the fun activities that you enjoy.

Choose to practice the healthier ways of loving your addicted person.

3. You cannot control or “fix” another person, so stop trying!

The only person you have any control over is yourself. You do not have control over anything the addicted person does. Many people choose not to believe this, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Once you can really grasp the reality of this concept and live by it, your life will become much easier.

The Serenity Prayer can give you a helpful gauge to see whether you are trying to control people and situations that you simply cannot control.

God, Grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Cultivate your wisdom, so that you know the difference between what you can and can’t change, and stop trying to control or “fix” anyone other than yourself.

4. Stop blaming the other person and become willing to look at yourself.

As easy and tempting as it may be for you to blame the addict in your life for your struggles and suffering, there is actually more value in exploring what you may be contributing to this situation, since that is the only thing you can really do anything about.

Even though the addict has undoubtedly contributed his or her share of the trouble, in some way you also have a part to play in what is going on. For example, you might be keeping the “drama” going by lending money to your addicted loved one. Or perhaps you are always willing to be there to listen when they tell you all about the problems they are encountering as consequences of their addictive behaviours.

These kinds of actions on your part will not help your loved one in the long run. It is your responsibility to recognize and “own” your unhelpful behaviours, and to get professional help in doing this if necessary.

Understanding why you choose to behave in unhealthy ways is the key to making a change. Become courageous enough to be willing to look at yourself.

5. Learn the difference between “helping” and “enabling.”

Just like most people, you might think that you need to help your addicted loved one. You probably fear that if you don’t provide help, he or she will end up in a worse predicament. When you try to “help” addicts by giving them money, allowing them to stay in your home, buying food for them on a regular basis, driving them places or going back on the healthy boundaries you have already set with them, you are actually engaging in “rescuing” behaviours that are not really helpful. Another term for this kind of unhealthy helping is “enabling.”

When you can be as truthful as possible with yourself about your own enabling behaviours, you can begin to make different choices. This will lead to healthier changes in your addicted loved one as well. For example, you might decide to tell the addict in your life that you will no longer listen to them complain about their lives. However, you can let them know that you are very willing to be there for them as soon as they are ready to work on resolving their problems.

Once you stop your enabling behaviours, you can then begin to truly help your loved one.

6. Don’t give in to manipulation.

It has been said that the least favourite word for an addict to hear is “No.” When addicts are not ready to change, they become master manipulators in order to keep the addiction going. Their fear of stopping is so great that they will do just about anything to keep from having to be honest with themselves. Some of these manipulations include lying, cheating, blaming, raging and guilt-tripping others, as well as becoming depressed or developing other kinds of emotional or physical illnesses.

The more you allow yourself to be manipulated by the addict, the more manipulative the addict is likely to become. When you hold your ground and refuse to give into their unreasonable demands, they will eventually realize that they are not going to get their way.

Saying “no” is an important first step toward change — for you, as well as for the addict.

7. Ask yourself the “Magic Question.”

It is important to understand that you might be just as “addicted” to your enabling behaviours as the addict in your life is to his or her manipulations.

In the same way that addicts use drugs, alcohol and other addictive behaviours to avoid dealing with their shame about feeling unworthy and unlovable, you may be focusing on the addict’s behaviour in order to avoid having to focus on living your own life. Your enabling behaviours toward the addict may be helping to keep you busy and to fill up your life so that you don’t have to see how lonely and empty you are feeling inside.

Ask yourself the question “How would my life be better if I wasn’t consumed by behaviours that enable my loved one?” Allow yourself to answer honestly, and be aware of any feelings that come up.

Although it may be scary to think about giving up behaviours that have formed your “comfort zone,” it may be even more scary for you to think about continuing them.

8. Know that “Self-care” does not equal “selfish.”

Too many people get these two ideas confused: they think that if they practice healthy self-care and put themselves first, they are being selfish. “Selfishness” basically means that you want what you want when you want it, and you are willing to step on whomever you have to in order to get it. That actually sounds more like the behaviour of the addict. If you try to take care of someone else before taking care of yourself, you will simply become depleted and exhausted.

“Self-caring” means that you respect yourself enough to take good care of yourself in healthy and holistic ways such as making sure your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs are met.

As an adult, it is your job to determine what your needs are, and you are the only one responsible for meeting them.

9. Rebuild your own life.

The best way to come out of your own “addictive behaviours,” such as enabling and people-pleasing, is to focus on your own life. If your life seems empty in any areas such as career, relationships or self-care, begin to rebuild your life by exploring the kinds of things that might fulfill you. Would you like to make a career change or go back to school? Perhaps you would like to develop different hobbies or activities that would help you meet new people.

Rebuilding your life so that you feel a greater sense of happiness and self-fulfillment is your most important over-all responsibility. Enjoy!

10. Don’t wait until the situation is really bad ~ reach out for help NOW!!

When those who love people with any type of addictive behaviour finally reach out for help, they have usually been dealing with their situation for a long time. If you have been waiting to see whether things would get better without professional help, please consider getting help NOW, before things become even worse.

If this situation is just beginning for you, it is best to get some support as soon as possible, so that you don’t make the mistakes that could make things more difficult.

The sooner you reach out for help, the better it is for everyone concerned.





5 Reasons Addicts Struggle Staying Sober

The Following is a short list that contribute to an addict’s relapse.




Why Addicts Can’t Stay Sober

1) The mental obsession. A mere sober addict is still completely insane and subject to relapse. Sober-only addicts will experience thoughts to drink or use that do not respond to ration or reason. We can, however, remove this obsession through spiritual action and achieve lifelong sobriety, free from the danger of relapse. But if we don’t change, if we don’t restore ourselves to sanity and re-acquire the power of choice, we have no chance in hell.

Usually the removal of such a condition requires divine intervention. To be more accurate, the result of our sincere work and desire to change may induce the power of God to remove our obsession, as man-made remedies simply aren’t capable of such a task. There is no pill nor any expert that can remove this obsession. There is no pill that can make an insane man sane. And most importantly, the addict himself is not capable of removing his obsession. The combination of his insanity and his total loss of willpower leave him incapacitated. If you don’t believe me, feel free to try going from a chronic and hopeless drug addict to completely and utterly free inside for the rest of your life on your own volition. And by free I mean zero urge or desire to self-destruct + inner peace and contentment.

2) We still want to feel good in sobriety. Therefore, everything the addict does after getting sober is simply to feel good or to achieve maximum comfort. If we fail to rid ourselves of this attitude, this comfort addiction and this selfish frame of mind, then we have no chance.

3) Happiness, success and normalcy are too unfamiliar. Addicts have complacently adjusted to a status quo of chaos, failure and sabotage. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. However, if an addict is going to make it, he or she must embrace and get used to things working out. Things aren’t suddenly working out because of magic, they’re working out because we’re doing the right thing.

4) Refusing to act morally and to make things right. If we fail to sincerely make our amends to spouses, family, friends, colleagues, institutions and creditors, then we have no chance. We will soon fall spiritually ill and relapse. Furthermore, if we don’t change the way we conduct ourselves on a daily basis, we will rapidly move backwards and become ill. We must change the way we think, speak and act. There is no staying sober without living by spiritual principles and treating others with kindness, love, tolerance and respect. We must also never ignore requests for our service. If the people in our lives need our help, we must always respond. Failure to do so, failure to become other-centered will crush our conscience once again and we will surely relapse.

5) Failure to continue growing spiritually. If we truly want to change and grow and recover, then we must continue to evolve spiritually. That means we must continue writing inventory and reading it. It means we must continue praying. It means we must continue meditating. It means we must help other addicts when the opportunity presents itself. To remain sane and free from addiction, we must continue to work on not just our outer lives, but our inner lives as well. Stillness, prayer and meditation are crucial for the mind and heart of an addict. Failure to maintain our inner health will also result in eventual relapse.

Am I an Addict/Alcoholic?

The Following is a quick list of questions to help you determine if you or a loved one is an addict/alcoholic. Answer yes or no to the following questions. Sometimes, yourself or a loved one may not be sure if they have a problem. If you answer yes to 5 or more, you may want to take a closer look…




    • Do you ever use drugs for something other than a medical reason?
    • Is drug/alcohol use making your life at home difficult?
    • Do you find it difficult to stop once you start using drugs/alcohol?
    • Do you misuse more than one drug/alcohol at a time?
    • Has your reputation been affected by your drug/alcohol use?
    • Have you found that it takes more drugs/alcohol to give you the same high (or low)?
    • Have you ever felt remorse or shame after using drugs/alcohol?
    • Have you ever experienced withdrawal symptoms (felt sick) when you stopped taking drugs/alcohol?
    • Do you find yourself hanging out with inferior people when using drugs/alcohol?
    • Have you ever lost a friend or relationship due to drugs/alcohol?
    • Has a close relative or friend ever worried or complained about your drug/alcohol use?
    • Do you ever feel bad or guilty about your drug/alcohol use?
    • Has drug/alcohol use affected you financially?
    • Is drug/alcohol use jeopardizing your job or business?
    • Does your spouse (or your parents) ever complain about your involvement with drugs/alcohol?
    • Have you engaged in illegal activities in order to obtain drugs/alcohol?
    • Do you use drugs/alcohol alone?
    • Have you ever neglected your obligations for two or more days because of drugs/alcohol?
    • Have you had medical problems as a result of your drug/alcohol use (such as memory loss, hepatitis, convulsions, bleeding)?
    • Have you been arrested more than once for drug/alcohol related incidents (DWI, theft, posession, etc.)?




Why Will Power Isn’t Enough

You might think, “Just a little more will power, I’ll be fine.” Personal story showing why will power won’t work, and what will…



By Ted N.

A drug addict’s life is a montage of freeze-frames. Like the night I was driving and noticed the disquieting red and blue strobe in my mirror. As I slowed the car from 95 to a casual stop, that’s when I realized I was wearing a bathrobe and green plaid pajama pants. I hurriedly took count of how many drinks I’d had in the last few hours, remembered the half-gram of heroin in my lumpy pocket, and the variety of other unmentionables scattered around the car.

The chap in blue knocked on the car window with a rigid knuckle. I slipped my half-smoked cigarette into a can of flat Mountain Dew and lowered the glass. I told him none of my secrets. He said nothing of my nightwear, the hour, or my unsteady hands. He cautioned me about deer darting across this stretch of road. He was forgiving of my speed and returned to his vibrant cruiser without issuing a citation. I must have seemed tired instead of drunk.

I had reached a point where I could consume generous servings of brandy without appearing drunk. In fact, I felt closer to normal after binging on booze. I was calm as he pulled away, and almost disappointed as I drove on.

What is addiction like? Isolation.

I both preferred and despised my own company; I feared myself and what I might do if left alone for too long. On more than one occasion I found myself standing in the kitchen with the silverware drawer ajar and a shrill blade in my hand, its tip pressed against my neck, wishing to feel something or anything, wanting to die but really just wanting to live. I’d wake the next morning on the kitchen floor as a grown man who’d cried himself to sleep, broken, cowardly, captive and absolutely alone.

I tried parties for a while, always feeling optimistic right up to the point where I’d reach the crowded room, then see a few dozen faces I’d rather not meet. In my social unease, the effort that went into forced conversation was exhausting. I’d stay for ten minutes trying to act preoccupied, then pretend to head outside for a cigarette and sneak into my car to get away. For the first few years of this, friends would call and ask where I’d run off to, until eventually people stopped calling.

It seems funny in the movies when people wake up in a foreign bed or stray couch without a clue as to how they got there. I don’t recall finding much humor in waking up in the driver’s seat of my SUV, parked in front of the wrong apartment building. I never cracked a smile after rising from a stained carpet floor to struggle to find my way back home.

I preferred to stay in my apartment, only leaving for cigarettes, booze or out to the corner to score some drugs. It was safer that way. I didn’t have to wonder if I killed someone. So I eventually resigned myself to never leaving. I’d lock the doors and shut the blinds for days on end. To be sure, total isolation is a recipe for total insanity.

What is at the root of an addiction?

Talking with a drug addict or alcoholic (in my opinion, no distinction) is a lot like speaking with a child. He or she is present in every physical sense, but there’s a mental barrier of maturity. I was fond of giving lengthy, heartfelt monologues to anyone about the miseries of life and the cruelty of God. My audience lessened as my speeches grew longer and gloomier.

Nights were my place of comfort, my interval to drink voraciously and swallow, snort, smoke, or stab anything into my body that may offer some relief from … I don’t know what. The drinking and using once served a purpose. It brought freedom, clarity, peace of mind, and levity. When did the solution become the problem? My means of escape had ironically become my prison.

The effects of heroin

I used to cry out to God, weeping and screaming in anger for Him to rescue me. Every night I dreaded the morning, certain that I couldn’t bear another day. Everything frightened me; the ringing phone, knocks on the door, school, work, everyone I came across, and most of all–myself. I never knew what I was going to do. I’d spread butter on bread and resist the urge to cut my own throat. I’d drive over a bridge feeling my hands wanting to twist the wheel over the ledge. I’d pour the first drink of the day before climbing into my car, knowing there would be more to come.

I so wished to die, but I knew what a sad funeral service it would be. No one would be surprised. People would talk about my potential rather than my achievements. My parents would blame themselves and live in shame and regret, and my brothers would lose their smiles and all innocence. My memory would be baggage to them.

It was time for a solution.

Getting into treatment

I recall sitting in treatment, considering the next steps on an unclear path, wondering what to think about the last ten years of my life. Were they wasted entirely? What am I supposed to do with all of this damage and how can I move forward with the past so close behind?

What about God? Where was He when I felt so abandoned and alone? Was He there those many times I drove home after a dozen drinks and a ridiculous serving of drugs? Was He there when I’d wake up in some unknown location? Perhaps He was present when I climbed in the hot tub at four in the morning and passed out sometime after everyone left, and woke up later with wet hair but no rescuer in sight.

If I’d realized such interventions back then, I’d have wondered…why? What in me was worth saving? I was contributing nothing to the world, so why did God bother?

In treatment, self-will is not enough

After two months of treatment and no progress, I was more exhausted than I’d ever been. Even though I hadn’t had a drink or drug for 60 days I was still harnessed by substances. I had no reference to function like other people. At least when I was drinking, I thought, there was a means of relief from all of life’s expectations. Now I was vulnerable. I didn’t have my solution in a glass before me or chopped neatly into lines on the dresser.

So many times over the last ten years I’d fallen to my knees in painful despair, screaming in excruciation, “God, HELP ME!” I had demanded rescue, demanded that God fix this. But I never surrendered my will to God. Yet finally, this one night, alone in my room, I wanted to be honest and address God squarely. I told Him of my sincere desperation to change, to give up my addiction to Him, and to be willing to take action. I slept soundly that night. It was the first taste of freedom I’d ever known.

The difference between that night’s prayer and all the others is one crucial and powerful word – faith. I had, even in the worst moments of my addiction, believed to a certain extent that God could relieve me of that burden. Nevertheless, I had insisted on things being done my way. I had never before handed over my problem to God, nor asked for guidance and wisdom on what my role in this process should be. It was the first time I had the assurance of “All right then, God is taking care of that because history shows that I can’t.”

People think that addiction can be overcome by self will. I knew my addiction was masochism, but to imagine a life without drinking and drugging was impossible. It was my downfall, but also my only friend, my only way of living. Self-will in the midst of such a dilemma is impossible. If I have no clarity over my great dilemma then how in the world might I go about conquering its existence? Thank God for God.

Is anything more powerful than an addiction?

Addiction is a crafty, relentless, seemingly unmovable force, but put addiction in the ring with God and it’s a joke. Though self-will and human power is inadequate in my struggle against addiction, the power of God has no limits. I have no doubt that addiction is one of Satan’s favorite weapons since the disease seems so eerily similar to what I would imagine it’s like to be possessed. Recovery from addiction truly is a spiritual battle.

My recovery program is simple — seeking God, whether I feel like it or not.

I try to follow what Paul wrote (in the Bible) to his friends, who were also followers of Jesus: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”1 I loved the thought of dwelling on those things, rather than dwelling on sniffing stuff up my nose.

What I’ve gained from my addiction

My past, as grim as it may be, has become a truly invaluable asset. Now I am responsible to help others find and maintain recovery as I have. It is our similar experiences that form our bond. Every week someone who is new to recovery, unsure of a way out, will tell me a story from their recent past that has haunted them and brought their hand to pour another drink or load another syringe. They tell me of their great shame with hesitation and eyes fearful of judgment. When they’re finished they bow their head, unable to have eye contact. I smile and say in complete honesty, “Yeah, I did that too.” Suddenly their burden of shame and uniqueness is washed away. Then I tell them how different things are for me today. To have a miracle performed on or for you is one thing, but to voluntarily play a role in someone else’s miracle– that’s a sublime privilege.

How does an outlaw, a junkie and drunk, a failure in every respect, become an agent of God? How can I, who just years ago was sure that this world would be better without me, now do God’s bidding? I don’t really have an answer because God works in ways I don’t understand. He humorously seems to use the least likely people as His accessories. If that’s the case, I don’t spend too much time questioning it.

Within six months of surrendering to God and working hard at my sobriety, I enrolled again in school and graduated soon after with Latin honors and a college experience I could never have dreamed of having. It’s been over three years since that night I fell to my knees and I haven’t felt hopeless since. My life is not “okay.” It’s extraordinary. That’s not to say that I have millions of dollars, fame, everyone thinks I’m the greatest, and there’s nothing in this world I cannot do. What I mean is that every morning I do my best to turn over my will to God and be open to His will, asking Him to work through me, and that’s a prayer He never denies. When I’m awake to the opportunities, they’re at every corner.

I know this about God. He can take dreadful situations and reinvent them into something wonderful.

15 Bible Verses To Help You Overcome Addiction

Whether the addiction is alcohol, drugs or sexual, God offers help in His Word to break free of the addiction. Some verses in the Bible give warnings as to why you should abstain from certain sins while other verses give encouragement that an addiction can be overcome.



15 Comforting Scriptures To Help With Addiction

Proverbs 6:26-29 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.”

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Isaiah 5:11 “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”

Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Ephesians 5:18-20 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

James 1:12-15 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

James 4:7
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Christian Quotes for Overcoming

“Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.” ~ Bernard Edmonds

“God has equipped you to handle difficult things. In fact, He has already planted the seeds of discipline and self-control inside you. You just have to water those seeds with His Word to make them grow!” ~ Joyce Meyer

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles one has overcome trying to succeed.” ~ Booker T. Washington

“No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No stream or gas ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara ever turned light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.” ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/15-bible-verses-to-help-with-addiction/#ixzz4E7GIZU8b

20 Tips To Help With Your Sobriety During The Holiday

if you or a loved one is seeking advice, intervention, or treatment options please call 561-735-1370 for your FREE consultation TODAY Or Click Here!


For some people in recovery, the holidays can be tough. But you can make it to January with your sobriety intact. You don’t have to let unfulfilled expectations, stressful family dynamics, or crazy in-laws threaten your recovery. Not to mention all those holiday parties.cookies2

You just need a bit of preparation. Start planning your sobriety strategy now, with these tips from The Recovery Book.

Sober Holidays Tip #1:  Remind yourself every single morning how good it feels to be sober (and how great it will feel come January).

Plant that thought in your mind right now, and think about it every morning. Stick a note on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to think about it every day. 

Sober Holidays Tip #2:  Keep your expectations realistic, so you don’t set yourself up for an emotional letdown. 

Getting sober doesn’t mean life is instantly perfect. Other people in your life probably haven’t changed, and many of the conflicts that crop up at family reunions will doubtless crop up again. Accept it, roll with the punches, and rein in the urge to manipulate everything and everyone. It will be enough for you to take care of and control yourself.

Sober Holidays Tip #3:  Plan activities other than sitting around and gabbing.

In many families, getting together for the holidays means sitting around and drinking. Investigate other options now. Movies, museums, holiday concerts, skating, walks, sledding, sports events can all help fill the time and limit stress. If weather keeps you inside, suggest activities that will keep everyone busy and focused, such as decorating holiday cookies, board games, or old movies.

Sober Holidays Tip #4:  Limit the amount of time you spend with relatives who make you crazy.

If everyone is gathering for the holiday, including your brother who drinks like a fish, plan on an overlap of just a day or two. If he arrives on Christmas Day and stays a week, you can arrive a couple of days before Christmas, help your hosts prepare, enjoy a quiet Christmas Eve, and leave the next day.

Sober Holidays Tip #5:  If you’re traveling, go to meetings wherever you are. 

Find a meeting long before you get there. This will give you the booster support shot you’ll almost certainly need—the chance to say, “Sure, I love my family, but sometimes they drive me up the wall,” or to talk about whatever else it is that almost drives you to drink.


Sober Holidays Tip #6:  If the holidays mean visiting your old hometown, take time to see old friends you enjoy; avoid those you used to drink or use drugs with. 

Make plans now for how you’ll occupy your time while there, so you don’t find yourself with time to kill and fleeting thoughts of visiting the people who are still drinking or using.

Sober Holidays Tip #7: Remember what Recovery Zone you’re in.

If you’re following the Recovery Zone System, remember where you are in recovery. If you’re in early recovery, the Red Zone, you are bound to be a bit shaky. Don’t push yourself or leave yourself open to temptation. It’s okay to have a quiet holiday season.

Sober Holidays Tip #8  Do a Recovery Zone ReCheck before the holidays get started.

Think about the events coming up in the next few weeks. What situations could possibly set you on the road toward relapse? Seeing your ex-husband at a party? Having a fight with your mom? Having dinner with friends who drink? Make a plan now for how you will deal with these events; maybe you’ll go to some extra meetings before you travel, and plan to call your sponsor or a fellowship friend if anything does happen. Or maybe you’ll investigate online meetings now, before anything happens, so you can go to a meeting at a moment’s notice. Remember, it’s okay to retreat to an earlierRecovery Zone for a few weeks.

Sober Holidays Tip #9:  If you’re flying and feeling vulnerable, ask for help.Sober Holiday Tips

Planes don’t have “no alcohol” sections, so the person right next to you might order something alcoholic. What do you do? Ideally, fly with someone you know, someone who knows you are in recovery and will avoid drinking during the trip. If you’re flying alone and feeling vulnerable, explain your situation to the flight attendant. Ask if he can help you change your seat if anyone next to you orders anything stronger than tomato juice. Swapping seats is almost always possible. If you do get stuck next to a drinker, close your eyes and meditate. Put your headphones on and zone out to music or a meditation recording, or watch the movie. If you have Wi-Fi on the plane, contact a friend in recovery for support.

Another idea: If you worry you’ll be tempted to stop at a bar on the way to the airport or inside the terminal, have a friend or your sponsor drop you off at the airport and then stay in touch with you via phone, text or video chat until you get on your plane and the cabin door is shut.  

Sober Holidays Tip #10: Plan your own celebrations.

If you aren’t going traveling for the holidays, plan to celebrate with local AA or NA friends. If you haven’t been invited, do the inviting yourself. Follow old family traditions or start some of your own.

Sober Holidays Tip #11: Take it easy!

Get plenty of rest, watch what you eat, get your usual exercise, and take time for meditation. Maintain your recovery routine as much as possible.

Sober Holidays Tip #12  Don’t romance the drink or drug.

If everyone starts talking about the “good old days,” leave the room. You don’t want to start thinking about your drinking or using days. That can lead to preoccupation and obsession, and then to cravings. Keep your focus on your life right now, your life in recovery.

Sober Holidays Tip #13  Be very careful about what you eat and drink.

Alcohol doesn’t come only in a glass or a bottle. It can come in bowls and plates, too. And what you don’t know can hurt you.

One reason, of course, is that even a small amount of alcohol can trigger a relapse. How much does it take? A tiny drop? A small glass? There is no definitive answer, so it’s best to avoid all alcohol and keep your risk as low as possible. Another reason is the psychological risk: the taste plus the “thrill” of knowing that you’re consuming alcohol could turn on a compulsion to drink. Remember, the addiction is in the person, not the substance; it’s critical to stay away from that slippery slope of guessing what might be risky for you.

Sober Holidays Tip #14 Bring recovery reading when you travel.snowflake2

Get ebook versions of The Big Book, and other recovery literature on your phone or ebook reader before you leave town.
Download some inspirational recovery talks as well.

Sober Holidays Tip #15 Practice TAMERS every day.

Don’t let up on your brain healing activities. PracticeTAMERS every day:

  • Think about recovery, Talk about recovery
  • Act on recovery, connect with others
  • Meditate and Minimize stress
  • Exercise and Eat well
  • Relax
  • Sleep

Sober Holidays Tip #16  Make a plan for dealing with cravings.

Write up a list of what works for you: calling someone, reading recovery books, a quick workout at the gym, prayer. Think about what has worked for you in the past, and be sure you are ready with some solutions.

Can’t think of anything? Try to stay sober for just one minute. Then two minutes. Then start doing something (wash the dishes, read the news), and set your alarm for five minutes. When you’ve managed to get through five minutes, try for ten. Keep increasing the time. Tell yourself you only need to focus on not drinking right now, this minute, this hour, this day.

Sober Holidays Tip #17  Remember that being in recovery doesn’t mean instant heaven or a perfect life.

Coming to grips with the idea that sobriety is not instant heaven is an important step in recovery. Most people with addiction expect their upside-down world to immediately turn right side up. That rarely happens. If you’ve been misusing alcohol or drugs for a while, your brain may need several months or even longer to set itself right. Give yourself time to build a happy new life.

Sober Holidays Tip #18  It’s okay to tell people you are now in recovery.

There is a lot less stigma these days to being in recovery. Nearly everyone knows someone who is in recovery and very open about it. It’s your choice whether or not you want to tell people.

One good reason to be open about it: If your friends don’t know you’ve given up alcohol, they may lead you into temptation without intending to.

Another reason: When you let it be known that you don’t drink, you offer support and encouragement to others who are thinking about sobriety but are afraid to take the leap. You just might be the catalyst that gets someone else started on recovery.

Sober Holidays Tip #19  Make a plan for staying sober at parties. 

Decide in advance that there’s no way in the world that you will drink or use drugs at the event. Ask for help from your Higher Power, because you may need it. Know and rehearse exactly what you will say if someone asks, “Would you like a drink?” or “Want to do a line?”

Sober Holidays Tip #20  Stay sober at the party: Serve yourself.

If you can, bring your own water bottle or glass full of soda, so you don’t even have to go near the bar. If you don’t bring your own, when you arrive head straight to the liquid refreshments and help yourself to a safe option. Keep your beverage in your hand for the rest of your time at the party (refill as needed). That way you won’t have to keep turning down offers of something to drink. People won’t be asking you and unknowingly tempting you. If you set your drink down while dancing or when you step into the bathroom, get a new one when you return. Don’t take a chance on anyone having accidentally switched drinks or good-naturedly topped yours off, or even worse, slipped a drug into it.

What Genetics Have to do With Addictive Tendencies


The problem of addiction has long baffled doctors and medical researchers. This has led to the stigma all addicts face today that tags them as liars, cheaters, and thieves. Addicts often find themselves facing abandonment, pain, loneliness, and the inability to find a permanent solution to addiction. This is all starting to change as addiction is now being seen as an illness. Scientists have discovered that addiction is closely related to the malfunction of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This part of the brain controls the pleasure system and when it is exposed to drugs or alcohol, the dopamine levels become abnormal resulting in cravings. Medical research has also been able to prove that genetics can play a role in the tendency of a person to become an addict. There are risk factors like mental illness that can increase the chances of a person becoming an addict but at the same time, mental illness has a genetic factor. Thus, this would explain why chronic illness runs in a family. Scientists explain that the brain’s prefrontal cortex genetic make-up is inherited but this does not mean addiction is a certainty or that a person who comes from a family where there is a history of addiction is doomed. In addition, while this area of the brain can never completely heal after being exposed to chemical substances, abstinence can go a long way in providing a safe and healthy life for a former addict. However, they stress the need for the addict to seek professional treatment that can provide a safe environment for medical detox and an effective foundation to prevent relapses.




Overcoming the guilt and shame that you feel from a relapse

First of all you have to realize that guilt and shame are huge drivers of addiction. So if any addict or alcoholic is feeling guilty or shameful about something then that, in itself, is a trigger to drink and self medicate. No one likes to feel ashamed of what they have done–we would all like to forget these things and move on from them. And what better way to forget than to self medicate to the point that we no longer feel shame or guilt about it?

If you drink enough alcohol then eventually it eliminates your emotions. Your feelings. The things that you feel inside, the anxiety, the frustration, the shame, or the guilt. All of that stuff goes away if you drink enough alcohol. That’s a fact, and it is a huge driver of addictive behavior. We don’t like to feel those unwanted emotions.

Now the problem is that when you come to the next day after drinking to excess, your problems are still there, the emotions and feelings resurface, and in many cases they are even worse because now you have the guilt of heavy drinking on top of them. So it becomes a vicious cycle that is very difficult to break free from.

What is the solution to this vicious cycle? One method is to simply “give yourself a break.” Realize that you are just doing the best that you can, and that you need help. You can’t overcome all of your problems alone, by yourself, without any help at all. And that is OK. You have to become OK with asking for help or you are never going to be able to overcome your drinking problems.

At some point the struggling alcoholic realizes that they need to sober up “for good.” At this point if they happen to relapse then the guilt and the shame that they feel from it is enormous. If they are active in a recovery community such as AA then they feel all kinds of pressure to maintain sobriety in front of their peers. So knowing that they have relapsed and have to go back to the group and confess can be overwhelming to some people. They either confess and get relief from doing so, or they hold it in and let the situation create even more shame, which then fuels more of a need to drink. Again, it is a vicious cycle if you are not being honest with yourself and with others, continuously driving you deeper and deeper into your addiction.

One solution: Take positive action to correct your biggest problem in life right this second!

Let’s talk about solutions.

Anyone can start to overcome the guilt and shame of addiction right now, this very second, simply by making an internal decision.

This decision, when you first make it, is not going to affect anyone else. It will only affect you because you will know that you are serious. Think about how many times the typical alcoholic or drug addict has “cried wolf,” telling themselves and others that they are really going to quit this time.

But when you make this decision internally, to yourself….when you make this special agreement with yourself, you will know a new peace about yourself.

This can only happen at the moment of true surrender. When you finally decide that you are sick and tired of fighting against the disease.

This is a moment where you overcome shame and guilt. You transcend those negative feelings because you make a special agreement with yourself.

That agreement is simple: “I am going to get help.”

You need to make a simple agreement with yourself that you are going to go get help.

Now keep in mind that there is only one time that you can ever do this, ever. That time is……Right now.

So you might be thinking to yourself: “Well obviously that is not true, because I might decide to keep drinking for a few more days, or a few more weeks, and then I will decide to get some help at that point, and therefore I would have made the decision in the future.”

And you would be partially right in that thinking. But you are also pretty much wrong too.

Because you have to realize that in a few days or a few weeks, you will still be in the same situation. And the time, then, will still be “right now.” You can only make that decision to get help in the present moment.

Think about it: Haven’t we been telling ourselves all along that “we will quit drinking some day?”

Well, some day never comes. And so we continue to waste our lives in chaos and misery, never taking that critical step to get the help that we need.

That is because it is never the future. Ever. It is only ever…..right now.

You are here, right now, reading this. And so you can make a decision to get help right now, at this very moment, or……not.

But you can’t slate that decision to get help for the future. That is a myth. That is a lie that you tell yourself so that you feel a tiny bit better about drinking today. And “some day” never comes, and you continue to drink until it becomes years, even decades later. Many alcoholics waste their entire life in misery, telling themselves that they will get help “some day.”

Not good enough.

If you want to make a difference in your life, then you have to realize that this can only happen in the present moment.

The only way that you can make that special decision inside of your mind is to do it RIGHT NOW.

You can’t make that decision in the future. Deep down you realize this. Because you have tried that before, and all it leads to is more drinking, more drugs, more chaos and misery.

You can only ever get help in the present moment.

And what does that look like, asking for help? What is the process?

Reach out. Ask for help. Call a help line. Ask someone who cares about you and loves you. Go to inpatient rehab. Go to an AA meeting.

That is what it looks like to surrender and ask for help. And we can talk about it all day long, but the fact is that you just need to do it. You need to get real with yourself, step up to the plate, and swing. Ask for help right now, today, this very moment.

If you want to overcome shame and guilt in addiction then you have to stop doing things that make you feel guilty and ashamed. Pretty simple. And there is no magic wand to be waved, you simply have to sober up, start living right, and the good feelings will follow naturally. Good living leads to good emotions.

If you go to rehab they can show you how to live well. It’s not too difficult actually–again, it’s all about following through. You just have to decide, and then go do it.

How your story becomes more valuable through adversity and failure

Is shame and guilt always a negative thing? Is it ever helpful in any way?

On the one hand, we never really want to seek these emotions out. They aren’t helpful to us in the present moment while we are experiencing them.

But we all experience them, and they can serve us in a unique way. Because then we can share our experience with others, and that might help them to get clean and sober.

In other words, no matter how screwed up your life has become in addiction, you will see one day how that chaos and misery can help another person.

How? Because you share your story with them. You share your experience with them, including how you overcome those negative emotions. How you finally conquered your shame and guilt. How you found hope and were able to turn your life around.

And in doing so you will see that your experience can help others. The failures that you may have had in life do not go completely to waste. They become a part of your story which can then inspire and teach other people.

So in a sense, shame and guilt, while definitely qualifying as being negative emotions, can still have some benefit to us in the bigger picture. They are part of our story and the overcoming of them can then inspire other people to get sober themselves.

How your eventual sobriety will change the entire world

We have all heard the analogy of the pebble thrown into the pond, how it creates these vast ripples that fan out and reach all the way to the shores, how a tiny butterfly flapping its wings can create a huge storm on the other side of the planet.

The same is true when it comes to a person getting clean and sober. You become like that pebble that gets tossed into the pond, and all of the ripples that fan out from you are the positive changes that go on to impact all of those around you.

And it doesn’t stop there. If you become sober then you may raise an entire family while sober. Just think about the downstream effects that may have been prevented across several generations from just one person who raises their child while drunk and abusive. Think about how many families and children that could potentially affect over the next thousand years, just from one person drinking every day and creating chaos and misery for their children.

And instead they could sober up, find recovery, and prevent all of that misery from rippling down through the ages.

And it can be so much more than that. So much more than just the prevention of misery and chaos. For example, consider the person who gets sober in treatment, starts attending AA meetings, and then goes on to stay clean and sober for decades while sponsoring dozens of individuals. So one person gets sober, then they continue to help other people to get sober, while also teaching them how to teach others about sobriety. The phrase is “healed people heal people.” So once you sober up, you become an agent of change, and can have this positive effect on the world. You can make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people.

Just think of all the relationships that are involved with just a single alcoholic. Just think of how many different people that alcoholic might encounter throughout the course of a decade. And they can essentially be in one of two states as they go through their life: They can be drunk (or a dry drunk) and creating pain, chaos and misery….or they can be in recovery, and spreading a message of hope to other struggling alcoholics and addicts. They are either part of the problem or part of the solution. They are either living in fear or they are practicing love and compassion. And so each person becomes like the pebble thrown into the pond, either spreading good vibes through their whole world, or bad vibes.

What some people fail to realize is that when it comes to alcoholism and drug addiction, it is an either or situation. No alcoholic is “sort of” sober. No alcoholic is “sort of” relapsed. Those are both blatant lies. We are extreme people, we alcoholics and drug addicts. Our disease is that we go to excess. Period. So for someone to suggest that we are in a state of moderation is ridiculous. We can fool ourselves sometimes in the short term–you may “control” your drinking for a few days, weeks, or even months. But if you are a true alcoholic then eventually the full chaos and misery will return. And so it is all or nothing. You are either living in the problem or you are living in the solution. There is never an in-between. Any middle ground is always a temporary illusion.

Denial is when you believe that you have found a middle ground. And eventually the alcoholic will always crash and burn, to the point where they can look back and say “I guess I was just fooling myself, I really am an alcoholic of the hopeless variety.” If you can admit that to yourself and be honest then you just might have what it takes to get clean and sober. That is the point of honesty that we must achieve in order to move forward in recovery.

The typical alcoholic is not putting a big enough value on their own sobriety, and for good reason–they believe that they will be absolutely miserable in recovery. I was terrified to sober up myself because I was afraid that I would be so unhappy without drinking every day. How would I be happy if I could not get drunk? Sobriety, I believed, would be miserable.

But eventually I had to admit that I was miserable in my addiction. I finally got honest with myself and admitted that I was miserable anyway, even while drinking as much as I wanted. I could no longer get happy. I used to drink a few and be happy and cheerful, but now I could drink excessive amounts of liquor and I was just miserable the whole time. Where had all the fun gone? This is how I broke through denial. I had to admit to myself that I was no longer happy in life, even when I was drinking as much as I wanted.

There had to be another way.

And there was. But I did not believe it at the time. Which was OK–I did not have to believe in recovery. I really did not think that going to rehab or AA meetings would ever make me happy. I thought that was a fantasy. Maybe going to rehab and AA will make some other drunk happy in life, but it will never work for me! Or so I thought. That is really what I believed, that I was not destined to be happy in life, that I was cursed to either die drunk, or just to live in sobriety and be miserable forever. But I thought that happiness was impossible for me. I was truly dejected.

And that was the turning point. From that moment on, things got better and better in my life.

And do you know why? Do you know what happened?

I surrendered. I gave up. I stopped trying to figure out how to be happy.

I repeat: I stopped trying to figure out how to be happy, and instead I asked for help.

You cannot chase happiness in sobriety and find it. That won’t happen. If you chase after happiness then it will remain elusive, just as it remained elusive to you while you were drinking.

This is because the solution is counter-intuitive. We find happiness in sobriety by helping others, eventually. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to heal. It takes time for it all to come together.

So you surrender. You go to rehab. You ask for help. You go to AA. You go to therapy, groups, see a therapist. Do meetings every day. Get a sponsor. Work the steps. Read the literature. Push, push, push. It takes a whole lot of work and a whole lot of commitment.

And you have to dive in and face the fear. It is scary to get sober. No one wants to admit that, but of course it is true. Why do you think alcoholics continue to drink? It’s simple–they are too scared to get sober. They are too afraid to ask for help, to face the world sober, to face themselves sober and to acknowledge who they have become in life. We may start self medicating for a variety of different reasons, but the reason that we stay stuck is because we are afraid to change. It is fear that keeps people drinking.

No one wants to admit that. They don’t want to appear weak, so they will give you a million and one excuses why they keep drinking. They won’t admit that they are afraid of sobriety. But that’s what keeps them stuck.

And so there is no trick to this. The person just has to become miserable enough in addiction and get to the point where they no longer care about the fear of sobriety. You have to be so sick and tired of addiction that you just want it all to go away, at ANY cost. And that “cost” is to face your greatest fear, to face life sober, to give up your crutch of alcohol or drugs. That is the price that we pay for our sanity. That is the price that you have to pay in order to get your life back. You have to face your greatest fear head on. You have to dive right into the pool, right into the cold water, knowing that it just might kill you, and you close your eyes and grit your teeth and you dive in anyway. That is the leap of faith that you must make in order to get sober.

Because you don’t know if it will work. There is no promise that going to rehab will make you happy. Instead, you could drink again tonight, and get a tiny bit of happiness from that, right? And so the cycle continues.

Or you can dive in, ask for help, seek out treatment. Change forever.

Become truly free.

Learn to fly.

Is It Possible To Stop Drinking/Using By Yourself?


A common question that struggling alcoholics and problem drinkers have is whether or not they can stop drinking on their own or not.

To qualify our definitions, I would suggest that a “problem drinker” is someone who can stop drinking all by themselves without any major issues, whereas a “real alcoholic” is someone who needs help in order to overcome their addiction. Those are not technical definitions, however, those are just the way that I happen to define those terms.

Ask yourself a simple question: Have you tried to stop on your own in the past and failed?

I think a strong indicator of the problem is whether or not you have tried and failed to stop drinking in the past or not.

If you have never tried to stop then I suppose you can still wear the badge of being a “problem drinker” rather than a full fledged alcoholic.

But if you have tried to stop….really tried….and then went back to drinking, then that indicates a serious problem. If you need professional help then you need professional help.

Part of my problem was my denial. OK, maybe that was my entire problem. Because my denial told me that I had never seriously tried to stop drinking.

I played that game in my head for a very long time. For several years I tried to convince myself that I was not necessarily a hopeless alcoholic because I had never really put a full effort into trying to quit. Oh sure, I had been to rehab a few times, but I was not seriously trying to quit for myself at those times, right?

So there was still hope. Using my twisted internal logic, there was still hope that I was not a real alcoholic. I had not stopped drinking yet because I did not want to stop yet. That was all. I just didn’t want to stop yet.

That was how my denial worked, or at least part of my denial. In fact, my denial had many layers to it. For example, another part of my denial had to do with the AA program. I was afraid of AA due to some amount of social anxiety, and I did not like sitting in a meeting. It scared me. It scared me to try to speak in the meetings, which I rarely did. And so this fear of meetings kept me stuck in denial. I told people that AA would never work for me, that it could not possibly work for me, that I was just wired differently than that. In truth I was just scared, so I covered it up with denial.

So let’s get back to the question: Can you stop drinking on your own?

Short term no, long term yes

If you are a real alcoholic, then the answer is this:

No, you can’t stop drinking on your own, at least in the beginning. But yes, you can certainly make it on your own in long term sobriety.

That probably sounds complicated. It is, at least a bit. That is because it is all a question of timing.

In early recovery you need help. Period. Every alcoholic needs help in order to turn their life around.

If you can just magically walk away from alcohol with no real problems and solve your own problem, were you really an alcoholic to begin with? I say “no.”

So the real alcoholic needs help. The real alcoholic needs some form of disruption, followed by being shown how to live a different way of life.

So that is two things that the real alcoholic has to have in early recovery. One, they need to disrupt their pattern of abuse. And two, they need to learn a new way to live their life so that they do not rely on alcohol in order to manage their stress, frustration, and anxiety every day.

If you try to do either of these things by yourself then you are likely setting yourself up for failure.

Disruption is particularly dangerous for the alcoholic. This would mean that you have to figure out how to get physically detoxed from the alcohol by yourself, without being tempted to relapse. That is fairly difficult and also dangerous for anyone who is physically addicted to alcohol. In fact, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal in extreme cases, and even in mild cases you can experience seizures, so alcohol detox is nothing to mess around with. This makes a strong case for inpatient rehab that has medical supervision.

Second of all, if you try to teach yourself how to be sober when you have–for example–one week of sobriety, how well do you really think that will work out?

Consider for a moment this bit of wisdom that you often hear cited in AA meetings: “Your own best thinking got you here.”

That means that your own best ideas about how to live your life and be happy led you to complete and total misery in your addiction. Those were your best ideas and your best efforts about how to live your life. When you get clean and sober you don’t magically have another set of wonderful ideas in your back pocket. You need new ideas. You need new information. You need a new way to live, and you don’t know what this is yourself. You can’t possibly know what this is, or you would have done it already. But instead you were miserable because your own ideas led you to addiction, chaos, and unhappiness.

There has to be a better way. And there is a better way. But you won’t know what that is yourself unless you get that information from other people. You need outside help in order to learn how to recover.

When you sober up you are a student in need of a lesson. Do you really think that you qualify as the teacher in this case? No, you don’t. You cannot teach yourself how to become sober. If you could, then you would have done so!

Therefore you need to surrender. You must “get out of your own way” in early recovery so that you can learn how to recover.

In this sense, you cannot solve your own problem of alcoholism. You cannot quit drinking completely by yourself without any outside help.

Have you not tried over and over again to do this anyway? Have you not tried to solve your own problem of alcoholism repeatedly, only to fail?

That is what an alcoholic is–someone who has tried to stop drinking over and over again, and failed. Someone who has tried to control their drinking, and failed. Someone who, when they manage to control their intake for a short while, are certainly not enjoying themselves. That is an alcoholic. If you fit that description then the answer is “no,” you cannot stop drinking on your own. If you can, then go do it–go stop on your own, and enjoy a sober life. I won’t fault you for it. In fact I would prefer that you did that. For the rest of us, we need help in order to stop drinking, and that is OK. So long as we surrender and seek out the help that we need.

Build a foundation in early recovery so that you can be stronger later on when you are on your own

So how is long term sobriety different?

How is that any different from early recovery?

My experience and my theory is that you need help in early recovery, but not so much in long term sobriety.

Now some people will get upset by this statement. They will call me a liar and tell me that I am dead wrong, that we still need help in long term sobriety.

OK, maybe. I don’t want to argue. But in my own experience I can definitely say that I need at least 10 times less help in my tenth year of sobriety than what I needed in my first year.

In fact, the ratio is more like 100 to 1. In other words, during that first year of my recovery, I actually lived in long term rehab the entire first year. But now that I am living in long term sobriety, I definitely don’t rely on others for help any more. Not nearly that much. I no longer go to meetings, but I am still active in recovery in certain ways. But I am not relying on other people to tell me what to do or how to live any more.

My suggestion to you, if you want to quit drinking on your own, is to start out by building a strong foundation for recovery.

In other words, set aside the idea of doing it all by yourself. Just swallow your pride for a while and set that idea aside.

Then, start doing the work of early recovery. Go get professional help. They will direct you to treatment, AA meetings, therapy, group therapy, outpatient treatment, and so on. All of those kinds of things.

I suggest that you dive head first into all of that and take it seriously. Work hard on it. Take the advice you are given, take the suggestions, and do what you are told to do. Build a strong foundation for your recovery by listening to what others suggest to you.

This is exactly what I did for the first two years of my recovery. I actually lived in rehab for 20 months. I listened to my therapist, to my sponsor, and I went to meetings every day. It really wasn’t my scene, but at the time it was what I needed to do. I needed the structure, the support, and I needed a new way to live that did not involve drinking every day. So this worked for me in early recovery.

Later on I was able to rebuild my life in the way that I wanted. I did this without everything falling apart and leading to relapse.

So instead of going to AA meetings every day I shifted to personal growth. I focused on my health, on improving my health and my life every day. I focused on exercise, on healthy relationships, on emotional balance, on reducing my stress level. I focused on helping others and finding new ways to connect with people in recovery (online forums for example).

So I definitely believe that timing is important in terms of being able to recover on your own.

The truth is that you can actually recover on your own and you can do your own thing in sobriety.

Just not at first. Not on day one. Not during the first year of your journey.

If you try to make that a reality my guess is that you will fail. But maybe I’m wrong; maybe you are much stronger than I am. But for real alcoholics, I kind of doubt it.

Instead, I think that you need to suck it up for that first year and take your lumps. Go to rehab. Go to AA. Get a sponsor. Listen to a therapist. Do the work. Don’t try to run your life in that first year of sobriety. Instead, let other people run your life for you.

That is a key point and a tough bit of advice to swallow, so let me repeat it:

Let other people run your life during the first year of your sobriety.

You will thank me later for that. Because after a while, you will get your life back. You will realize that you are still in charge, that you are still calling the shots, that you are still able to make decisions. And you will become powerful and even successful in your recovery. And you will be in charge of your sobriety and answer to no one. But you have to transition to this, you have to ease into it, you can’t just start out being in charge of your own sobriety. For a real alcoholic that is a recipe for disaster.

Swallowing your pride and finding humility

So how do you swallow your pride and listen to others? How do you ask for help in quitting drinking?

To me, it is a matter of surrender. It is a matter of desperation. I am not sure if it is possible to force this, if you can make this decision for yourself or not.

I tend to think that you cannot.

Meaning that, when you are miserable enough in your addiction, you will finally reach a point of desperation in which you are willing to humble yourself and ask for help.

Genuine humility comes at a time when you have thrown up your hands and said to the world: “I don’t know how to live, I don’t know how to be happy, I don’t know what I am doing any more. Please show me how to live my life. I will do anything.”

That is real humility. I am convinced that if you are not yet at that point of desperation then you cannot recover from alcoholism. It is just not possible until you reach that point of willingness.

Because you need a certain amount of willingness in order to do the things that you need to do in order to recover.

You need a certain level of desperation before you become willing to take the massive action that is necessary to achieve sobriety.

It is not convenient or easy to stop drinking, and then to do the work that will make you feel good about your life as you go through it sober.

In other words, quitting drinking is not the hard part. It is staying stopped that is so difficult. And that means you have to be OK living in your own skin every day. You have to be OK with walking around sober and feeling alright with yourself.

And that takes work. You have to be humble enough to be willing to do this work.

For example, look at the step work that is involved with the program of AA. Consider the idea of sitting down and writing out a fourth step and a moral inventory. Someone who is still full of pride is not going to be willing to do that at all. You have to be humble in order to do that sort of self analysis. You have to be humble in order to get that honest with yourself.

Recovery involves a great deal of self honesty. Because you have to be able to live in your own skin every day while sober in order to make it in long term sobriety. And there is no way to fool yourself in this regard. Either you are feeling good or you have negative emotions going on. You can’t ignore your feelings, you can’t redirect your mind and avoid your inner emotions. Your emotions never lie to you, they are real, and you have to deal with them. So when you are sober you have to find new ways to cope and deal with reality, you have to find new ways to be OK living in your own skin. And so this is all about being honest with yourself so that you can learn how to manage your new life in sobriety. Sometimes you need to ask for help in order to do this. Sometimes you need some support in order to deal with it all. And there is nothing wrong with that, but you have to be honest enough with yourself to be able to admit when you need this help.

Asking for help is a small price to pay for sobriety

When I was stuck in my addiction I was not generally willing to ask for help.

For many years this cost me. My life was a mess and I was miserable because I refused to ask for help.

Simply asking for help is actually a very small price to pay for sobriety. You have to stop and consider for a moment what you get when you achieve long term sobriety.

The benefits of being sober far outweigh the risk of asking someone for help.

If this is the only thing that is holding you back then it is time to swallow your pride and just do it. Ask for help and get started on building a new life.

How do you go about doing this?

One way is to talk to your friends, family, or loved ones. Get honest with them about your problem and ask them if they can help you get to treatment.

Maybe you don’t have a support system in place like that. Maybe you don’t have friends or family that would be receptive to giving help.

In that case, just call a treatment center directly. Get on the phone and call up a rehab. Ask them if they can help you. If they can’t, ask them if they know of another agency or resource that might be able to help you.

If this fails, then find more phone numbers for different rehabs. And find a phone number for a local help line. Get on the phone and start asking questions, keep reaching out until you get the help that you need.

This is a very small price to pay for a chance at an awesome new life in recovery.

Today I can look back (over 13 years ago) and realize that asking for help was a very small price to pay at the beginning of my journey. I am so glad that I did it because it led me to where I am today.

Why It’s Important To Have Support In Recovery


There are times in your addiction recovery when you need a lot of support from other people, and there are times when it is not as important. It is critical that every recovering alcoholic and drug addict figure out this balance in their own life so that they do not relapse.

When you are living a strong recovery in long term sobriety, having a support network of other human beings becomes less important. It can still be a vital part of your life–don’t get me wrong here. But in long term sobriety you will likely have built a foundation of sobriety that can withstand this lack of support. If you have not, then my suggestion to you is that perhaps you have more work to do in your life–work that will make your sobriety stronger and more resilient. For example, maybe you have not worked through all of the steps in a 12 step program yet, or perhaps you are not working to help others to recover on a regular basis, or perhaps you are not taking care of yourself every day from a holistic standpoint, or perhaps you lack a spiritual side to your program (lack of gratitude, etc.). So if you happen to have all of those elements suggested in place, then it would make your overall recovery that much stronger, and thus you would not be as vulnerable just because you happen to lack a social network in your life.

That probably makes sense to most people, but if you try to apply that idea to the life of a newcomer, you are likely to get a disaster. This is because the newcomer is especially vulnerable and they need support regardless.

No, the newcomer in sobriety needs this support network from other people in their lives. Without it, they fail.

Why you need the most support in early recovery

There are two important reasons that people in early recovery need support from other humans.

One is that they need to identify.

When you first get into sobriety you may feel isolated. You may feel like you are the only person in the world who has ever really struggled with addiction. This is a normal feeling and a typical reaction to breaking through your denial. Everyone has these kinds of feelings at first. They feel as if they are broken, that something is really wrong with them, that they are unique in the world because of their addiction. The alcoholic may think to themselves “No one really knows how I feel, because no one could have possibly ever loved alcohol as much as I do!” And it is this feeling of isolation and this feeling of uniqueness that keeps the alcoholic or drug addict from seeking help.

So when you first get clean and sober, one of the best things that you can do is to start going to AA or NA meetings every day. This may be scary or intimidating for some people, but there is a huge benefit if you can summon the courage to attend. It is even more beneficial if you have the courage to let the people at the meeting know that this is your first AA meeting ever. Even if it is not, you should tell them that it is. Why? Because then they will do what is called a “first step meeting,” and each person will tell you their own story of what it was like for them in addiction, what happened to them, and how they transitioned into sobriety.

This is valuable. The first step meeting is valuable for the newcomer who has that feeling of isolation. It is valuable because it allows the newcomer to feel like they are no longer crazy anymore. This is really important if they are going to get the help that they need. So the newcomer hears these stories from everyone, and in each one of those stories they begin to hear a little bit of their own experience. The newcomer will say to themselves “ah, I have felt that way too.” Or they might listen to someone and say to themselves “yes, I did that in my addiction as well.” And then you realize that the people who are telling you these stories, these people who are really just like you in terms of addiction, they have all found a way to get clean and sober and turn their life around.

This is hope. The newcomer gets hope from this experience. Suddenly they have a shred of hope that they might one day be able to function and be happy without their drug of choice.

So that is identification. This is a really important concept and it is probably the most important reason for a newcomer to attend an AA meeting.

The second concept is about learning, it is about figuring out how to remain clean and sober.

When you are new in sobriety you don’t know what in the heck you are doing yet. You just don’t know yet. You are like a baby that was just born into the world and everything is new again. You have a lot of learning to do.

There are two ways that you can learn. You can run around like a maniac and stub your toe over and over again, learning the painful way by yourself. Or you can take advice and feedback from others and avoid the pain and misery. You can choose to learn by the example of others. You can hear the stories of other people’s trials and avoid the same fate. And that is an important part of what the meetings are all about. It is free advice and good feedback from others about how to live your life.

We all have resistance to this feedback and advice. Why should we listen to random people at an AA meeting? What is so special about them, and what do they really know about us? Those people at AA don’t know who you really are, so why should you trust them? They can’t possibly know what you have gone through. They don’t know who you really are. How can they judge you by giving you advice, telling you what to do, telling you how to live? Why would anyone listen to them?

The answer is simple. You have a choice as a newcomer in AA. You can either take your own advice and use the ideas that you come up with in your own head, or you can take the advice of people in AA. It is an either/or decision. Your ideas, or those of AA. Your ideas, or the people at the meetings. You have to decide and make an agreement with yourself that you are going to follow one or the other.

Now stop here for a moment and realize something.

For your entire addiction, during all of the madness of your drinking or drug days, what were you really doing? You were following the ideas in your own head. Were you ever really taking the advice of others during that time at all?

No you were not. You were not listening to others, you were following your own heart, listening to your addiction, and doing your own thing. You were chasing after your drug of choice, over and over again. You ignored all outside advice in pursuit of getting drunk or high.

Now pause again and ask yourself: “How did that work out for you?”

Truly, stop and think about this for a moment. When you follow your own desires and try to get drunk or high every day, does it make you happy?

Did it really lead you to happiness? At all? Even a little bit?

No it did not. You became more and more miserable, to the point that you almost wanted to end your own existence. This is what addiction does to you. It destroys people, it destroys lives, it ruins happiness. It promises you everything, your drug of choice promises that it can lead you to happiness, and then one day you realize that you are miserable from it.

So with that in mind, you have to make that choice for yourself. And it needs to be a deliberate choice and a firm commitment. You need to make an agreement with yourself that you are not going to listen to your own advice any more. Instead, you are going to listen to the advice of others. And that can begin most easily and naturally by simply going to treatment or AA meetings, being honest with the people there, and doing what they tell you to do.

Does that sound good? Taking orders from others, doing what they tell you to do? Probably not, and I realize that. But if you do it, if you follow this one piece of advice, then you will learn to be happy again in life.

Do you need to stay “plugged in” to remain sober in the long run?

You absolutely need to find a way to stay plugged in to sobriety in order to make recovery work out in the long run.

Let me tell you what I have learned. Let me share with you something that I noticed.

When I was living in long term rehab during the first 20 months of my sobriety, I started my journey by attending AA meetings every single day. I was told to do 90 meetings in the first 90 days of sobriety, and I did it. I attended them religiously.

After that, I was required to attend 3 AA meetings per week while I was still living in long term treatment. So I started to skip days as was my new right. I would go through days here and there in which I did not attend a meeting.

And I started to notice something. On those days when I skipped the meeting, I was a tiny bit more on edge. I was more quick to anger. My brain would think about drinking or taking drugs more often. I would notice more triggers, more urges. I was not as grateful.

And I thought: “What is really going on here?” I knew that the meetings were helpful, and I knew that they were a powerful tool. But I wanted to figure out what was really going in my recovery, and what was actually keeping me clean and sober. There had to be more to it than just sitting in meetings every day.

To be honest, here is what I wanted to know: How could I stop attending meetings entirely and still remain clean and sober?

In the end, I figured it out. Within the first two years of my sobriety I completely eliminated all of the meetings from my life and I did not relapse. Nor did I slip into “dry drunk syndrome” or become a big jerk in sobriety. I would like to believe that I continued to push myself to learn and to grow in recovery, just without attending the meetings any more.

So how did I do it?

The holistic approach.

I figured out what really kept people clean and sober was a whole lot of little positive changes. And then I started to check those boxes off every single day:

* Am I taking care of myself physically today? Am I eating right, getting plenty of sleep, getting some decent exercise?
* Am I practicing gratitude today? Am I finding the positive lesson in every experience, even if it seems negative?
* Am I reaching out and helping others in recovery?
* Am I eliminating toxic people from my life, setting healthy boundaries? Am I surrounding myself with the winners in recovery?
* Am I eliminating thoughts of relapse, not allowing myself to glorify my drug of choice?
* Am I emotionally balanced today?

I found out that if I pushed myself to check off each of those boxes every single day of my life, that things just kept getting better and better.

I mean, I was surrounded by people in AA and NA who were not doing all of these things. They were going to meetings, but they weren’t really walking the walk in all of these areas of potential growth. And some of them relapsed.

And I thought to myself: “Wait a minute here! Some of my peers who attend meetings every single day are relapsing! What will become of me if I quit meetings entirely? Won’t I relapse too?”

But that fear was not the truth. The truth is, recovery is not about sitting in a meeting every day just to say that you sat in a meeting. The meetings are not magical. They are only magic if you apply yourself and you apply the concepts that you hear about in them.

And in that sense, I was on the right track with my holistic approach idea. Instead of sitting around and discussing these recovery concepts, I simply started applying them in my life each day. Every day. And I pushed myself hard to do this.

I had this moment when I was maybe six months sober in which I thought: “Maybe I will relapse from this path, or maybe it will work. But I don’t just want to sit around in AA meetings every day as my solution to this thing.” And so I used the principles here, those of the holistic approach, the idea of taking better care of myself every single day, in all of these different ways. And it started to work. It worked really well. And it is still working to this day, over 14 years later.

So that was my own personal transition in early recovery to long term sobriety. I started out going to meetings every day, which I still believe was important. But in the end, my sobriety was not about relying on others, it was not about the support of other people. It only started out that way. Later it grew into something more personal, something more individual, working towards my own goals for my own life. In long term sobriety I became a little more self directed. But in early recovery, I relied heavily on the support of others, to the point that I lived in a rehab for the first two years.

Why you need to learn from real human beings and not just books or Internet

You may be wondering: “Why can’t I just read the AA book and skip the meetings?”

Can you learn everything that you need to know from the literature?

The answer is annoying, I am afraid.

Yes you can learn what you need to know from the literature, you can read the big book of AA or you can keep reading the Spiritual River and you can continue to learn about recovery concepts. But the problem with that is the implementation. Will you really apply the concepts if you just read about them in a book? For most people, the answer is “no.”

In order to really take a concept to heart and apply it in your daily life, we almost always have to experience it directly, we have to see it in action, we have to have that proof of concept right in front of our own eyes. And we don’t get that direct and visceral experience from reading a book or a website.

No, I believe that in early recovery you need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. You need to check into rehab and see what it is like to interact with other addicts and alcoholics. You need to get the hope directly from someone who is telling your story but now they have over a decade of sobriety under their belt. You need to find unique people and unique personalities and meet them face to face, the people who have your same exact problem and yet they figured out how to overcome addiction. Until you have that level of proof right in front of your own eyes, I don’t believe you will have the motivation and the conviction that is needed to dive into recovery and take real action.

Having support in very early recovery

So how do you get support? How do you find the people that you need in early recovery so that you can avoid relapse and build this new life that I am talking about?

Two ways right off the bat. Number one, go to treatment. Go check into a rehab center. Get on the phone and call up treatment centers and find someone who will help you. Maybe you have insurance and maybe you have nothing at all. It doesn’t matter, there is help out there available to everyone in every possible situation. Get on the phone and reach out for help and start asking questions. Keep reaching out and continue to ask for help until you get to a treatment center and can begin to turn your life around. If you are persistent in this search then eventually you will find the help that you need. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Just make sure you are actually asking for help and reaching out to others. Pick up the phone and make a call.

Second of all, go to AA or NA meetings. You may be scared, or you may have decided that they don’t work for you in the past. It doesn’t matter. Just go to them anyway, force yourself to go, force yourself to sit there. For me, this was not a lifelong solution in my sobriety, but it was a huge part of what started me out with the support that I needed in the beginning.

If you want support in early sobriety then you need to take action. Ask for help. Luckily, nearly everyone in a recovery program is more than willing to help you in any way that they can. That is the nature of recovery. So that one day, you, too, will be able to offer your hand to others and help them to find a path to recovery.