Does Alcoholics Anonymous Really Work For Long Term? Can I Recover After A Relapse With Alcoholism Or Addiction?

How one man was able to recommit to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous after a relapse and find a new recovery and life of sobriety again.

 

 

One day I was sitting on the patio and man I was really, really feeling bad. I remembered that I was just starting to feel good in my recovery before I let the outside world get the better of me and went back out. I stayed out for a few weeks and just realized I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole again and I came back through the doors of AA. That was the most productive thing I ever did in my life.

It was the first day of a new life for me. It is never too late. This program really teaches you that you are somebody. This program is a we program and that is why everyone shows up at these tables, at these halls, at these churches or shacks, or wherever you can hold a meeting.

Some of us have short periods of time and some of us have long periods of time, but if we keep coming back and helping the new people it helps us with some sober time too. After we find that we are somebody, it is a feeling, a self-confidence that can carry us through from one day to another, to the next day, to the next week. Before you know it has been years and you’re still going.

I remember when I came back in. I had been coming around since before 2006 and it was good for a while, but after some time I realized there was not a connection in my recovery somewhere. I wish I could have figured myself out then and figured out what it was that was missing, but I just couldn’t. I had so much resentment I was still carrying from years before and now I was piling on new resentment everyday.

 

I am grateful today that I understand those defects of character, those faults that kept me out. I forgot how to listen. I spent all my time talking and talking and talking about something I didn’t really have. I have heard many other people say “you can’t give away what you don’t have” and they are so right on the money with that phrase. I had some sober time and it really wasn’t quality. I had quit drinking, but I had not really looked at myself in the mirror honestly and done any changing whatsoever.

All of the reasons I started drinking n the first place, the resentments, the anger, the self-pity, were still there and now they had grown into something monstrous inside me I couldn’t ignore or control anymore. I had been so quick to rush through the first few steps and really just skipped right on down to the last few without doing the work I needed to do in the middle.

I found out, after having a relapse, that the middle part was where I missed the entire point of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. I had not really looked at what part I had played in all of my misery and misfortunes. I had really just blamed everyone else for my sorrows and my failures. Where was I in all of it? What part did I play? What joy and time had I stolen from my wife, my children, my family and friends?

I am so grateful I did make it back through the doors of AA. So many others I have known over the years have not. I do not take my sobriety or this program of recovery lightly in any way. I might laugh and joke from time to time about alcoholism and being a drunk and the silly, stupid, insane things I did and still do, but it is a matter of life and death for me when you get right down to it.

 

This program saved my life and I am beyond blessed to be a member of this worldwide organization where I have a friend no matter how far from Chicago I travel. I would never be this far and my sobriety date, my renewed sobriety date is coming up on June 30th, 2014. I make sure to connect with my sponsor almost every day and I come to a meeting almost every day too. I realize now that when I stopped coming to meetings often and stopped calling and talking with my sponsor, I eventually stopped worrying about not drinking and then as soon as something in my life went haywire – there I was completely drunk again.

 

I had stayed sober for 8 years and then let my own cockiness and an argument with a few other people in an AA hall about outside issues get me riled up so much that I used it as an excuse to stop coming to meetings. I was sober, I had been sober, I forgot that I really needed

the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and talking things through and hearing from other alcoholics and addicts how to stay sober.

I never lost anything that I had learned in and out of the halls and I always had my Big Book and some other materials like As Bill Sees It to read at home, but I didn’t. I was so angry with other people over something so unrelated and then I was angry at myself and too embarrassed to show my face around those people and admit that I had lost my temper.

I was a fool. I could have gone to any number of halls in the area, but I chose to sit and stew, alone, until I finally did go right back to my selfish, self-centered ways and once I picked up that first drink it was off to the races again for this old drunk.

My advice to anyone who is just starting out in recovery and alcoholism and those that have a lot of sober time is this, don’t get too confident in the years you have under your belt because that date can change in an instant if you don’t stay vigilant and remember how close we all are to falling off of the sober mountain. I slid right back down further than I had been before. It is true. It does not get better; it only gets tougher and harder to climb back up.

 

I was fortunate that I hadn’t run anyone off and when I came back into my home group, I was embarrassed and nervous, but welcomed with open arms and have been ever since.

 

 

Are you boastful in your recovery? Are you waiting for acknowledgment? – Serving without selfish motives is a freedom.

Are you a “Coin Collector”?  – Are you boastful and only acting to receive compliments on your sobriety?

If one side of a boat gets too far out of the water, it is likely to tip over.  I must always be careful not to build myself up too much and expose myself to falling and failing.  I have to be careful of having too much success so I do not allow for any over confidence in my abilities to remain sober and never to measure my recovery in lengths of time instead of the quality of the sobriety.

My goal can not be measured in achieving one year, five years, ten years and so on of sobriety, because as soon as that is accomplished, where do I go from there?  What do I do then?  Overconfidence is a very dangerous beast.  It has fooled me into believing I am capable of things I am not.  I am very good at convincing others I am someone different, and worn many masks to hide my true self and intentions.  With much gratitude and a hard look in the mirror, I have stopped hiding in my own head and lying to myself about who I am.

Oscar Wilde said, “confidence is good, but overconfidence always sinks the ship” and Norain went on to add that “overconfidence will drown you in the sea of reality”.  They are both so right.

Am I doing things because it is the right thing to do or are my intentions selfish?  Does the question, what is in it for me, occur in my mind?  I need to have the desire to be a part of something, not because it helps me, not because it only makes me feel better, but more importantly, because it needs to be done and it is the right thing to do.  I do not live my life with the thought of receiving recognition.  I speak with the hope it will help others and help AA as a whole.  When I apply this mindset in all of my affairs, I feel better, and great things happen in my life.

I do not feel it is boastful or braggadocios to say my sobriety date.  I am proud of my recovery date because there was a long time, many years in fact, I could not get one day together.  I could not comprehend the understanding of 24 hours as a start for the longest because I was always thinking about what had happened and what was going to happen.  What about my court date?  What about my kids?  What about my husband?  What about, what about, what about?  I was always in the future or I was always in the past, never in the present.  Never in the 24 hours.  I am better about that today and it is because of the Alcoholics Anonymous program and the other recovering addicts and alcoholics that I share a table with.

I need my AA hall to keep my changed way of thinking.  When I was drinking I was selfish.  I was constantly trying to figure out what I was going to take from someone, what I was going to get out of it. Doing something for nothing carries so much freedom with it.  I need AA to survive with a selfless way of thinking and I find that through service work and offering anything I can without the thought of how it will benefit me.

This perspective includes not expecting anyone to say thank you either.  I serve to serve.  I serve because it is the right thing to do for my heart.  I needed to learn how to choose my thoughts in the same way I was picking out what to wear everyday or what to eat for lunch.  If I want to have control over the things in my life, I must first start with my mind and my attitude.  Those are truly the only things I can control and should be trying to better.