Norcal July 2016 Blog

​Recovery from alcoholism and addiction starts with abstinence and continues with a new way of life. I used to imagine sobriety would be about not drinking and using, but the longer I remain sober the less and less it has do with drugs or alcohol.
In the last days of getting loaded, the problem was clearly an inability to stop or stay stopped. I was without hope and could not imagine life without a drink or a drug. I needed a physical, forced separation from drugs and alcohol.
After hospitals and jail, the last forced separation was the 3rd time in a rehabilitation/treatment center. This physical time out was an essential beginning of sobriety. 
I had developed a healthy fear of getting loaded and had substantial knowledge of how and why I drank and used the way I did. I avoided temptation by not going here or there and not spending time with “them.” I surrounded myself with sober support and made myself accountable to the group. I lived in a sober living environment with rules, curfews, drug tests and meeting requirements. I had a court card to verify my meeting attendance. I remembered the worst days loaded and hoped that those memories would be sufficient to keep me sober. 
In short, I continued to use every human tool at my disposal to not drink or use. These were all great short term solutions and they served me well. Yet, the thought of a life built on fighting and resisting seemed futile and exhausting.
In the past, I would always lose the fight to drugs and alcohol. It seemed inevitable that, while I was stopped for the moment, eventually I would succumb to that same old obsession which had proven to be much stronger than my will power could ever be.
I was stopped, but I was not truly free from drugs or alcohol. Substances still ruled my every waking moment. I wasn’t using but I was still a slave to alcoholism and ensnared by addiction. If I was going to stay stopped, I would need something more. I needed something greater than these tools of self-will which I knew would leave me resigned to living a life at war with my obsession and that would ultimately fail me in the end. I needed a new way to live.
I am sure there are many ways to embrace a new design for living. For me the easier, softer way was found through 12 step recovery and a program of action. The process wasn’t something that I had to create or figure out. It was simply something I had to do. I found a person, I called sponsor. He had a significant amount of sobriety time, had worked the steps and lived a life where he didn’t seem to be at constant war with drugs or alcohol. The only requirement he asked of me was that I be willing, honest and open-minded. As soon as I assured him of my sincerity, we commenced to working the steps. I took each step with the belief that if change was possible for him, that it might be possible for me. I was desperate for something different and did all that was asked of me, all the while trusting blindly.
With each step I learned how to practice principles which I could never live up to in the past. These qualities began to lay the foundation for a completely new way of living. I was taught Acceptance/Surrender/Admission, Hope/Faith, Commitment, Honesty/Courage, Truth, Willingness, Humility, Reflection, Restitution/Forgiveness, Accountability/Vigilance/Perseverance, Connectedness/Attunement and Service/Freedom/Love. I learned (and am continuing to learn) how to practice these qualities not only in the context of my sobriety but in my every aspect of my day to day existence. The process has shown me tangible ways to be the person I have always known I was. The result has been a life where I am completely neutral when it comes to drugs and alcohol. I no longer fight, avoid or live in fear of either one. I have truly recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. 
What I have learned is that due to the permanent and progressive nature of alcoholism and addiction, that I will never be cured of this illness. I know that the sickness has very little to do with drugs or alcohol, I can suffer without taking a sip or a hit. The only way that I can remain recovered is to be in recovery. After 7  years of continuous sobriety, the program of action has not changed. The things I do to stay sober today are exactly the same things I did in the first year. I regularly attend meetings, I am a sponsor who is sponsored, I continue to re-work the steps, I am of service to the fellowship and I have found a Universe greater than me that I am connected to in ways that I can barely fathom.
Today, I am no longer a slave to the drink or the drug. I am not exhausted from fighting or avoiding temptation. I haven’t learned how not to get loaded, I have found a way of living where I don’t have to get high. I am finally free.
~S.D. 

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