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.

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.

3 Steps To Take In Early Sobriety


What are the smartest steps that you can take in early recovery from alcoholism? What sort of things can you do to insure that you do not relapse in early recovery?

These are the sort of questions that I asked myself often in my early recovery journey. I wanted to know the exact steps to take in order to stay clean and sober.

Now some people I am sure would say something like “Well, just work the 12 steps of AA, that is how you insure your sobriety,” and this may be true to some extent for some people. But if you are currently stuck in a pattern of drinking every day then you might not be in a position to be able to work the 12 steps right away. Sometimes we need to get some professional help before we can learn how to help ourselves.

Given that, let’s take a closer look at some of those preliminary steps that you might take in order to overcome alcoholism, and why they are important.

The single smartest step that you can take to recover from alcoholism or drug addiction is probably to check into inpatient rehab

My number one recommendation to the struggling alcoholic (or drug addict for that matter) is to check into inpatient rehab.

There are other solutions available. Understand that you could avoid rehab entirely and simply go to counseling, or you might go straight to AA meetings, or you might join a church community and decide to stop drinking on your own.

But my argument is that none of these alternatives are a good option for you compared to inpatient rehab. Why not?

Here are some reasons why checking into treatment might be the best choice for most alcoholics:

1) With inpatient treatment you get a full medical detox. This is a safety issue, as alcohol withdrawal can be fatal in extreme cases and certainly dangerous in other cases. When you go into treatment they put you in medical detox area where you are supervised by medical staff around the clock. In addition to the safety factor, there is a comfort factor involved as well. They generally try to keep you fairly comfortable in detox so that you are not suffering through massive withdrawal symptoms. I worked in a detox unit at a rehab for 5 plus years, and generally speaking, no one is climbing the walls or going crazy from discomfort. They keep you comfortable without over-medicating you.

2) Comprehensive care – when you go to rehab you get the best of all options when it comes to addiction treatment. So you get a medical detox, then you generally get paired up with a counselor or therapist, that person generally makes you a treatment plan, you are probably introduced to AA or NA meetings, you are encouraged to get a sponsor, and so on. They don’t just spin you dry in detox and tell you to avoid alcohol. There is a lot more that goes into your treatment and in fact a lot of it is follow up care. So they are planning things for your treatment plan that will happen after you leave the inpatient program.

So going to rehab includes AA meetings (usually). Going to rehab includes a medical detox. Going to rehab includes getting specialized help from a dedicated therapist or counselor. It is actually a combination of many types of addiction therapy and treatments. It is more comprehensive than other solutions.

So it may be true that you could avoid rehab and just, for example, go to AA meetings. But in doing so you would miss out on a whole host of other treatment options that might be part of the key to saving your life. Inpatient rehab is comprehensive in this sense, it is exhaustive.

3) Follow up care – rehabs recommend aftercare. If you fail to have a plan then you are almost certain to relapse. Aftercare is vital to your success in recovery. Most alternative forms of treatment do not generally involve aftercare or follow up care.

4) Education – when you go to treatment you get a foundation of knowledge about addiction and the recovery process. You don’t necessarily get this knowledge if you choose another way to recover.

As I indicated, there is a chance that you could avoid inpatient treatment and still come out sober in the end. I just don’t recommend making it that hard on yourself. Why avoid treatment and make things tough when you could go to rehab and give yourself every possible advantage instead?

The second smartest step for alcoholism recovery is deep involvement in a recovery program of some sort

My recovery journey is probably a bit unique in that the first 18 months I was deeply involved in treatment, AA, sponsorship, and so on.

I have been sober now for over 13 years and to be honest, after that first 18 months was over with, I pretty much left the recovery programs behind and did my own thing.

Does that mean that AA and NA are worthless? Or that I don’t recommend them?

Not it does not. I fully recommend AA and NA programs to any newcomers in recovery, simply because they offer a ton of support for people who may be struggling.

I have a broad argument both for and against the 12 step program. Let me give you them both:

Argument for AA: It is the single greatest concentration of help and support that you can get in early recovery. If you ask for advice or feedback at an AA meeting then you can get a huge amount of guidance from doing so. You can also find a sponsor at AA/NA and get personalized support from a peer in recovery. It is not a cure but it is a whole lot of help. The infrastructure is there, nothing out there is really bigger or more available than the 12 step program right now. Take advantage of the help that exists, even if that help is not perfect.

Argument against AA: My biggest gripe with AA has to do with personal growth and complacency. It is pretty easy to get complacent and the truth is that AA only points towards a solution, it is not a solution in itself. I repeat: the 12 steps point you towards a solution, but they are not a solution. There is a difference and anyone who has achieved sobriety on their own will understand this subtlety. You can get sober without AA or the 12 steps simply by taking positive action and working hard at self growth.

Given these two arguments (both for and against 12 step programs) I still believe it is beneficial for most people in early recovery to seek out AA meetings. In particular, the timing of the help that you get is really important. So going to AA meetings during the first 18 months of my recovery helped me a great deal. But near the end of that 18 months I could easily see that sitting through the daily meeting was no longer as beneficial to me. My sobriety hinged on positive action and personal growth, not on the fact that I was grinding out a daily AA meeting or meeting some arbitrary quota (such as 3 AA meetings per week, etc.). Therefore I quit going to meetings during the second year of my sobriety and instead adopted a path of personal growth and holistic health. This decision appeared to be a good one and I am now at over 13 years sober. Which brings me to the final idea about what is smart to do in recovery, and that has to do with the pursuit of personal growth.

The third smartest thing you can do for your chances at sobriety is to engage in a path of personal growth and holistic health

I used to wonder all the time what the real secret of sobriety was. Why do some people relapse while others remain sober? What is the real secret to success in alcoholism recovery?

What I learned (very slowly) was that it was all about personal growth.

Now we can actually use lots of different labels and terms when we have this discussion–I like to throw around words like “personal growth,” “Holistic health, “positive action,” and so on. But they all sort of point to the same basic ideas, which is that you have to make positive changes in your life in order to overcome an addiction.

This is simple stuff that is really hard to do. If your life is bad because of drug or alcohol consumption, then you need to make serious changes. Most likely you need to stop putting drugs and alcohol into your body, and then you have to figure out how to cope with reality on a daily basis without reaching for those drugs or booze as a solution.

That is a two part process that I like to break into “early recovery” and “long term sobriety.”

Early recovery is pretty straightforward I think: Go to inpatient rehab, listen to what they tell you to do, and then start doing it. For most people that will probably mean that they go to AA meetings after leaving rehab. Pretty simple really. Not everyone will do it of course, because it takes real work and real commitment. It’s tough. Simple, but not easy.

Long term sobriety is not the same thing. It is not as simple as going to treatment and then hitting AA meetings three times per week. Most people who try to squeeze by with this sort of plan end up struggling or relapsing. In other words, you can’t apply early recovery tactics to long term sobriety. What got you sober will not necessarily keep you sober. What worked on days 1 through 30 of your sobriety will not work exactly the same when you have, say, 9 years sober.

Why not?

Because you change. You grow. You evolve in your recovery journey. So the challenges change as you go along.

Some people who have been sober for many years end up relapsing. How is that possible? Obviously they knew what it took to stay sober, right?

They did know, but somehow they forgot. And what really happened is that they got complacent. They got lazy. They stopped pushing themselves to make the sort of growth and positive action that it takes to keep up with your addiction.

The alcoholism is always in the background getting ready to try to get you to relapse. You always have to remember this. The only way to really fight back is to always be fighting back. How do you do that? By always looking for the hidden lesson, by always looking for gratitude every day, by always being humble and trying to learn from every experience that you have in life. If you stop learning then your disease has an entry point to force relapse. If you stop being grateful then your addiction has a way to get you to relapse. If you become too proud or too confident in your sobriety then your disease has an advantage over you.

It is very difficult to teach this to someone who only has 5 days sober and is in treatment. Therefore you will need to keep growing, learning, and evolving long after you leave rehab. I left long term treatment after 20 months and quite honestly I feel like I was just starting to grasp the basic concepts of recovery at that time. I understood abstinence and I understood support groups (such as daily AA meetings) but I probably still did not understand the threat of complacency at that time. I still had a lot to learn about long term sobriety (and I am still learning to this day!).

Taking action versus doing nothing at all

Every alcoholic has a choice to make right now:

Maintain the status quo and do nothing, or ask for help and dive into some new sort of lifestyle.

Keep drinking, or change everything.

Do nothing, or change everything.

That is the choice that every alcoholic and drug addict is really facing. This is because their entire world is defined by their addiction. So if they want to overcome their addiction and make a change they are going to have to take this massive plunge into a black hole, it is like being shot out of a cannon into space, only to land on some alien planet somewhere. I hate to over-dramatize it but that is really what it feels like if you happen to be the struggling alcoholic. It is scary. It is a big leap of faith. Asking for help and then going to rehab is a massive step into fear. Everyone who makes this leap of faith is doing so by facing one of their biggest fears. It is a really big deal.

Ultimately you can ask for help, or you can keep going it alone and self medicating with alcohol or other drugs.

If you continue drinking or using drugs then you can probably guess what your results are going to be like. Whatever results you have been getting in life, your future results will be either the same or slightly worse. Over longer periods of time your life will get much worse because the negative consequences will snowball eventually and compound into bigger problems. For example, an alcoholic will usually lose their driving privileges at some point, which will then create additional negative consequences that are difficult to predict from their current standpoint.

Luckily, the benefits of sobriety work the same way–they tend to snowball over time. But this requires an element of faith, because the positive feedback that you get in sobriety starts out very slowly at first. You may not even notice that things are getting any better at all, and then one day in the future you will suddenly have this realization that you are happier now than you ever were during your addiction. And this is an amazing revelation which will give you a deep sense of gratitude. The miracle finally happened for you and you weren’t even watching at the time! At least that is how it worked for me–early sobriety was a bit of a struggle, and then one day I realized that my obsession to drink was gone, and I was actually happy without needing any drugs or booze. This was amazing. And it happened in about six months of time. My prediction was that it would never happen, that I would never be happy in sobriety, that I would be forever miserable. Boy, was I wrong. Things got a whole lot better for me and all I really had to do was surrender, ask for help, and follow directions.

I think that is an important point to emphasize: I didn’t figure any of this out at first. All I did was to get so miserable and become so sick and tired that I just wanted it all to end. And so I was desperate enough to ask for help and I was desperate enough to follow directions.

People then told me what to do, and I did it. Go to rehab. Get a sponsor. Go to these meetings. Talk with this therapist. Write in this journal, write in the steps, and so on. I did this things and my life got better when I wasn’t paying attention. I looked back one day and realized that I was happy even though I was sober. This was a miracle.

Anyone can achieve this miracle if they are willing to do the work.

How to get started in recovery if you don’t know what your next step should be

If you don’t even know how to get started or what step to take first, let me make a suggestion to you.

Ask for help.

Realize that you can’t do it alone.

I certainly could not do it alone. I had to have help.

My family told me to go to rehab. In fact, they called up the treatment center for me and made the appointment. All I did was to get in the car, really. I had the willingness, and that was it. I asked for help and I was lucky enough that people responded to me.

If you don’t have family or friends to direct you, then call up a rehab directly. Call them ask what you need to do in order to get the help that you need.

And that is the bottom line–if you don’t know what your next step is, then ask for help and start following some direction in life.

What is the worst that could happen? When I was stuck in addiction, the worst that could happen was that I might ignore everyone else and just do my own thing. That stopped working well a long time ago. It was time for me to ask for help, to seek advice, and to take a new path in life.

I am glad that I did.

What Lifestyle Changes Can you Make to Overcome Alcoholism/Addiction?


it possible to make lifestyle changes in order to overcome alcoholism or drug addiction? How would a person go about doing this in a way that produces good results?

This is a tricky thing because ultimately I believe that every struggling alcoholic definitely needs to make significant lifestyle changes in many different areas in order to recover. On the other had, however, what is needed in early recovery is often a very narrow focus on simply not picking up a drink or a drug. If you try to take on too much change all at once it can be self defeating and overwhelming.

Total abstinence from all mood and mind altering substances

In order to get the help that you need to overcome alcoholism I would recommend to every struggling alcoholic that they need total and complete abstinence from all mood and mind altering substances.

This is the baseline for recovery. This is the foundation on which you build your sobriety. Without this foundation there can be no recovery. Without a commitment to total abstinence you are not going to see significant progress.

We can fool ourselves in the short run, unfortunately, by making small changes in our lives while we continue to drink alcohol. So the alcoholic may be able to convince themselves that they can learn to moderate their drinking and still enjoy a good life. But this is denial because in the end they always find themselves getting into trouble. Even if they manage to control their drinking for a short while, eventually they lose control again and suffer consequences.

In the short term the alcoholic may continue to drink and get improved results. But over the long run if they continue to drink then things always get worse. This can be difficult to realize on a day to day basis and this is why many people stay stuck in denial. They fail to step back and look at the bigger picture. They are cherry picking their data, looking at examples of when they were able to control their drinking and enjoy themselves, while disregarding all of the examples when they lost control, suffered consequences, or were completely miserable. They hang on to the good examples and disregard the bad. This is one of the most basic forms of denial.

So the biggest lifestyle change that has to occur is that of total and complete abstinence. Unfortunately for the typical alcoholic this is a bit like jumping into a bathtub full of ice water all at once. The threat of total sobriety can be a real source of fear, and it can be intimidating. This is the fear that kept me stuck in my own disease for so long before I became willing to get help.

So what changed? Eventually I got so miserable and so sick and tired of the addiction lifestyle that I became willing to face my fears in order to give it up. It was fear that held me back but in the end my disease wore me down to the point where I no longer cared about the fear. I stopped caring about everything. I was done caring. And so I got to the point where I was willing to surrender, I was willing to try a new path in life, I was willing to ask for help and take that scary step into the unknown. That scary step into total and complete abstinence.

Total abstinence sounds like a death sentence. I know this because I lived through it myself. I did everything that I could in order to avoid sobriety. I wanted some other solution to work for me. I wanted to learn to control my drinking rather than to give it up entirely. But that was not to be. I had to finally face my fear head on, I had to walk into treatment and embrace the detox process, I had to be willing to let go of alcohol completely. And that is a scary thing for an alcoholic. It takes guts. It takes guts to walk away from your trusted companion, from your crutch. But this is the foundation that you have to build on if you want to turn your life around. It is the necessary step that every alcoholic or drug addict has to take in the beginning. They have to be willing to walk away from their drug of choice, to turn their back on it and be totally and completely sober. They have to be willing to face life without the crutch of drugs or booze. To face reality without a mask on, to learn to deal with it.

So your first lifestyle change is obvious, but also very important: Total and complete abstinence. No drugs or booze, period.

The recovery lifestyle as opposed to the party lifestyle

The lifestyle changes that you will need to make in recovery go deeper than mere abstinence, however.

You can’t just eliminate the alcohol and then continue to do all of the same exact things that you used to do, just without the alcohol. You probably won’t continue to hang around with the exact same crowd of people, either. Or go to the exact same places.

So when we talk about recovery from addiction, there are at least two different categories of potential change. Let’s label them as “internal” and “external” changes.

The internal changes are what goes on inside of you, the stuff that you work on if you are, say, working through the 12 steps of AA. So these include things like fear, resentment, anger, shame, guilt, self pity, and so on. Those are internal changes that you need to work on to stay sober.

But there are external changes as well. These are things like: Where you hang out each day (at the bar or at AA meetings), who you spend time with (people in recovery versus old drinking buddies), and what sort of things you acquire (chocolate milk instead of a six pack of beer). In other words, the external changes are the “people, places, and things” that they talk about in recovery. These are what mostly make up the lifestyle changes. Your patterns and habits with these external changes are what define your lifestyle.

So in order to recover from alcoholism we will naturally adopt a new sort of lifestyle. This is not necessarily something that we have to force, it is just something that should happen naturally as a result of quitting drinking. Obviously you don’t want to hang out in the bar all night if you aren’t going to be drinking booze.

But lifestyle changes can go beyond the avoidance of alcohol. You can create a better life for yourself through some careful planning if you choose to do so. For example, you can ask for advice and feedback from others in recovery and find out how they have changed their own lives in order to better support their sobriety.

In other words, you quit drinking alcohol and you stop hanging out at the corner bar. But then you can go far beyond that and also make other healthy changes that enhance your ability to stay sober as well. What are these other healthy changes?

Holistic health and why it is important for your sobriety

I am a believer in the holistic model of recovery.

So in this case the term “holistic health” refers to the overall health of the recovering alcoholic. Their sobriety and abstinence is one facet of their overall health, but there are other facets as well.

You have their physical health and being free from disease. Nutrition. Physical exercise. Sleeping habits. And so on.

Then you have emotional health and well being. Being stable. Not getting too upset or angry on a regular basis.

Then there is social health and the network that a recovering alcoholic may rely on in early recovery. The people that they connect with. The people they spend time with who influence them.

Of course we would consider spiritual health and the idea of gratitude. Is the person grateful for their life today? Can they generate gratitude even when things are not going their way? This is perhaps the most useful aspect of spirituality when it comes to sobriety (IMO).

And your mental health and stability is also a part of your holistic health.

So we have at least 5 different areas of health to consider in recovery, and all of them can play a role in helping you to remain sober.

If you neglect one of these 5 areas for too long then it can get you into serious trouble. If you completely ignore one aspect of your holistic health then it can lead to relapse eventually. This is why it is important to take care of yourself every day in recovery, in every way.

So this becomes like a checklist. You can ask yourself at the end of each day: “Did I take care of myself today from a holistic standpoint?” And when you say “holistic” just think of those 5 different categories of health: Physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Did you take care of yourself in each of those areas today?

Or perhaps more importantly: Did you seriously neglect one of those areas today? Because if you did then you know what you need to work on tomorrow in order to pick up the slack.

If this was the only strategy that you used for your long term recovery then it would probably work out fine, so long as you were vigilant at it. It would keep you moving forward and digging to make more and more healthy changes in your life.

There is always something more in our lives to work on. Always something to improve. The key is that we need to have a system to find out what it is so that we can keep moving forward.

When we stop moving forward we get into trouble. When we stop moving forward we become vulnerable to relapse.

Why you should take suggestions from other people in recovery

I am a firm believer in the idea that we should all take suggestions and advice from other people in recovery.

This is not because we are stupid or because other people are so much smarter than we are. It is not about that. Instead, it is a way to share wisdom, to share our experience.

The fact is that we do not know what we need in order to recover.

I learned this myself when I made the journey through early recovery. I realized that I had to take suggestions from other people in order to find out what worked for me and what did not.

For example, there was a person that I met in recovery who really was into seated meditation. This was the core of his sobriety. He meditated every day and it really made a huge impact on the quality of his sobriety and of his life. So he encouraged others to meditate as well to see if it helped them.

So I tried it for a month or two and I really studied the idea of meditating. I practiced every day, usually two sessions per day. I read books about it. I talked with others about it. I really gave it a thorough effort.

And ultimately, in the end, I ended up leaning more towards exercise. In fact I took up distance running later on and this sort of became my own form of meditation. So I did not really get the same level of benefit from the seated meditation and I eventually dropped it. I moved on. I went into jogging instead.

And there is nothing wrong with this. I had to find my own path. But I did it by taking suggestions from other people. To be honest I don’t think I would have tried either seated meditation or jogging on my own if it were not for people suggesting those things to me.

So I had to reach out and take advice and try some new things. I had to experiment and find out what worked for me.

They have a saying in recovery: “Take what you need and leave the rest.” This does not mean that you can ignore everything that you disagree with, it means that you should experiment and test new ideas until you find what works best for you!

The thing about recovery from alcoholism is that it is a hands on process. You can’t just sit back and theorize about what might work for you and what won’t. That doesn’t work. That is what I was doing when I was in denial and still drinking. I would look at the idea of treatment and AA meetings and say “nope, I don’t think that will work for me.” But did I actually know that? Of course not. I was just guessing (because I was afraid).

So instead of doing this in recovery you need to get your hands dirty. You need to dive in head first and start testing out some of these ideas. They will suggest that you go to 90 AA meetings in 90 days (probably). So you might give that a try. Maybe it is not for you (I went for the first 18 months or so, but have not gone for over a decade now). It is possible to change and evolve in your recovery. And there is nothing wrong with this, so long as you are taking care of yourself every day, and in every way. This is how the holistic approach works. You must learn to take care of yourself every day and in order to do that you are probably going to have to experiment and try new things. The best way to learn what those things might be is to ask for advice from others in recovery. Whatever they are doing is obviously working for them! So borrow some of that experience and wisdom. Use it to your advantage. Ask them for help, ask them what they do in their own recovery, and then experiment with it yourself.

Building a new life from scratch

I had to start over from scratch when I got into recovery. I realize that this option may not be available to every person. I am grateful that I had the chance to do it myself.

What I did was to move into long term rehab. I was lucky that they took me in. They only had one spot available at the time and I was lucky to get it.

I never saw any of my old friends again. My drinking buddies. They simply drifted out of my life forever. I was lucky in that as well.

I quit my old job where I used to drink all the time. I was lucky to be able to just walk away, and then later find a new job.

I had a family that supported me 100 percent in all of this. I was lucky to have that support.

I was lucky to be able to rebuild my life from scratch, simply because I was finally at the point of real surrender. I was finally done being afraid. I was finally willing to face my fears, to walk into them head on.

I don’t know if every alcoholic will have these opportunities. Probably not. But I have also realized that it doesn’t necessarily matter if you have all of this “luck” that I had on my side or not. Because I have watched many alcoholics who had even more opportunity than I did and they can’t find that point of surrender. They may die from drinking before they ever truly surrender in spite of having all the support and resources in the world.

So you just never know. If you are lucky enough to surrender to your disease then don’t waste any more time. Get yourself to rehab. Ask for help. Go to an AA meeting. Go see a counselor or a therapist and get expert advice. Find the path to sobriety.

If you are willing to go to treatment then by all means, go. It can be the start of a new life if you allow yourself to get out of your own way.

Rebuilding your life in recovery does not have to be a chore. It may seem like a chore when you are going through detox but it starts to get really exciting after that. Sobriety is definitely not boring–not like we think it might be when we are still drinking and drugging. It gets interesting. It gets exciting. But you have to give it a chance.

And it takes time. It takes time to heal, it takes time to build a new life. It takes time for your lifestyle to change. And it takes time for you to appreciate your new lifestyle. It may not happen overnight. And this is why you have to have some faith. Faith that things will get better, even when you may feel down or depressed.

So your first step is to make the decision, to ask for help. My suggestion is to get to rehab. Inpatient treatment. Detox.

Embrace total and complete abstinence. I know it is scary at first. It gets easier though. It is not so hard to be sober when you have help and support. Getting to rehab can be very tough, but actually being in rehab and being sober is pretty easy. That might not make sense right now but once you are in treatment you will realize that it is true. Once there, it is easy to be sober in treatment. Which is the whole point!