Focusing On Sobriety

By Steve B.

There has been a lot said here lately about sobriety and relapse.  A lot of this takes the form of confessions, explanations, and remedies. The remedies I am reading here seem to involve pharmacology, psychology, or the distraction of keeping busy in one way or another.

At the present time, I haven’t had a drink for 13 days, and it has been easier than I had expected, so far that is.

I have been reading the posts every day, contributing occasionally, sometimes gathering a few pearls of wisdom from others, sometimes forming some conclusions of my own distilled from what I read as well as from my own experience. I would like to share a few of these.

Sobriety does have a certain momentum once it is set in motion, like a car moving down the road. However, it needs an engine to keep it moving, or it will come to a stop. I reach this conclusion from my experience of relapsing after six month of sobriety that I had initially set in motion through going to AA meetings. When I stopped attending meetings, my determination to stay sober began to weaken.

The support and sharing of thoughts and feelings among alcoholics is the true strength of any recovery group, whatever its ideology or absence thereof. This thought comes from my own experience as well as my noticing of people in this group speaking of needing to go to an AA meeting although they disagree with the most fundamental beliefs of AA.

Whatever we pay attention to grows. Focusing on sobriety, spending time thinking about it, writing about it, and reading about it places an investment in sobriety that makes us less and less inclined to give it up. Focusing on the shame, self-hatred, or helplessness we may feel as a result of relapsing only serves to increase these feelings and does nothing whatever to enhance sobriety itself.

The matter of staying sober is a lifetime commitment, something I will probably never be able to set aside and forget about.

Posted May 19, 1999