Rex’s Short List of Recovery Necessities

By Rex A.

Sobriety sometimes takes longer to “get” for some than for others. I don’t know why. The more you struggle with it, the closer you get to success. What do you need to do to achieve sobriety? I don’t know! But YOU know. You know, even if you don’t think that you know. Here is my short list of some of the things that have been necessary to recovery for some of us:

1. Go to a lot of skin meetings. (90/90)

1a. Go to “Brand X” meetings if no SOS available.

2. Make sober friends.

3. Get professional counseling.

4. Become more educated about alcoholism generally and as it applies to us personally: reading, discussing, attending classes & programs, self observation, behavior mod techniques, etc.)

5. Avoid slippery places and activities (bars, parties, etc.)

6. Making key lifestyle and social changes (leaving an addicted spouse, stop hanging with the old crowd, changing jobs that demand drinking, moving to a less slippery part of town, etc.).

7. Pro-actively getting involved with new hobbies and other recreations that are alcohol free.

8. If idle, finding ways to fill your time. If over scheduled, finding ways to free up time. If isolated, spending more time around people. If dependently and compulsively social, learning to tolerate spending some time alone.

9. “Positive lifestyle changes.” Paying attention to health & fitness, diet, exercise, stress management, meditation, etc.

There is nothing mysterious about these strategies. They come up over and over on this list in one form or another, and are restated in a myriad of ways in the dozens of books available in the Self Help section of the book store. AA would add a religious strategy to the list, and that is clearly helpful for some people. I am sure that you can add to the list yourself with no difficulty.

Which ones are most important? Hard to say. It’s different for different people. This ain’t rocket science, but one suggestion is that those strategies which scare you most, or seems the most repulsive may be the ones you need to consider the most seriously. Sorry.

I do know alcoholics who seem to have been able to stop drinking, and then go about their business as if nothing had happened, changing little of their life and lifestyle. I think, however, those people are rare exceptions. Just as I believe there are some really hard cases who need (as in can’t make it without it) very extreme strategies such as “Tough Love”, Synanon or the like. Most people, I imagine, are somewhere between those two extremes.

However, the naive believe that one can “get it” without having to do some things that s/he doesn’t particularly want to do–or without giving up some things that s/he doesn’t want to up–or make some changes that s/he doesn’t particularly want to make is delusional. It is as common as salt, among us alcoholics, but it is delusional.

So what are you willing to do to recover? How important is it to you? What will you do today to move toward that goal? If you don’t have answers, what steps can you take today to help you find some answers? In the now immortal words of that inspiring actor, Tom Cruise “Show me the money!”

(Posted on LSR Email List 6/98)