Alcoholism and addiction are thieves that will steal your soul, spirit, sanity and self and never feel guilty about doing it or apologize for it. Neither one of them has any shame. Their sole purpose is to separate you from yourself and all that you hold sacred in life. They are relentless, powerful, progressive, pervasive and confusing. They defy understanding. It is not like a person wakes up in the morning and says, “I want to be an alcoholic or an addict because that is how I can create the most wreckage in my life.” I don’t believe that is how it happens with alcoholics and addicts. It takes time to make them a habit. And know this to be true; they will be patient.
Redemption and happiness will never be found in the miserable pit of alcoholism or addiction. They will not be found in relapse. They can only be found in recovery. And recovery is not found in half measures. They will avail you nothing. An enduring recovery requires a full measure of commitment. You must devote as much time, energy and effort to it as you did to the disease of alcoholism and addiction. And the longer an alcoholic or addict defers making the commitment to get and stay straight and sober, the higher the price tag will be for finding recovery, redemption and happiness.
The search for recovery, redemption and happiness will not be found by shopping for them at empty stores, in a bottle or drugs, in clutter and more stuff, or in geographical and relationship cures. They are only found when you are aligned and in harmony with your true self.
No one needs to lead an alcoholic or an addict into temptation. They are perfectly capable of finding that on their own. They drink alone. They drug alone. And at the depths of their drinking and drugging they find themselves alone. What they can’t do is get and stay straight and sober alone.
Like attracts like. There is an old saying that if you hang around a barber shop long enough you will get a haircut. You hang around old playmates, playthings and playgrounds long enough you will relapse. You hang around those committed to recovery long enough you will stay in recovery. This principle has served me well since September 14, 1981 without a whiff of a relapse.
There are four conditions that lead to redemption and happiness. One—you need people in your life who will affirm, appreciate, value and love you. If that is absent in your life; then unless you are a masochist you should leave the relationship. Remember that like attracts like. Two—you need to find something to do in your life that you are interested in, curious about and have a passion for. That is where you will find purpose and meaning in your life. Three—you need to have something to look forward to that gives you hope. Everyone needs some hope to cope. Four—redemption and happiness happen only when you are aligned and in harmony with your true self. Alcoholism and addiction survive on deception and lies; harmony with your true self requires rigorous honesty. It is imperative in recovery that you make a commitment every day to be truthful, even to the point of painful irritation to your own comfort level. One of the best ways to make sure this happens is to get a good sponsor and establish a solid and loyal support system. They will serve as reality checks. You must have options to drinking and drugging; especially when you are tempted in the dark of night to “hook up” with your old playmates at your old playgrounds. You will need to replace the old “stinking thinking” patterns with “positive and hopeful” thinking and action. This means humbling yourself enough to call your sponsor when you might not want to, or to get yourself to a meeting when every part of your being wants to drink or drug. Every positive action step you take will make you stronger and more confident in your recovery.
So just what is the key to finding redemption and happiness in recovery? Rigorous honesty, good sponsors, a solid support system and no false illusions that you can recover on your own is what it takes. It is called working your program. And when you work your program, your program will work for you. I have never known an alcoholic or addict to relapse who worked their program. Relapse happens when you don’t.
There is an old saying in AA that you cannot keep what you are not willing to give away. Pass some of that recovery, redemption and happiness along. And you will be more likely to keep yours.
Joel Christiansen is President of Speaking Services and Learning Academy For Ethical Leadership. www.joelcspeaking.com Author: Out of the Ashes the Resurrection of an Addict (It can be ordered through Joel’s website)