Having trouble staying sober?
Maybe you should try harder. Double-down on what hasn’t been working, because more of it should work, right? 90 meetings in 90 days is for amateurs—try 180 meetings in 90 days. Get a team of sponsors, maybe give them hourly shifts. Pay a sober coach to send you daily inspirational emails with lots of exclamation points. And expand your network—clearly you aren’t calling the right people. And stop calling the old network—they didn’t keep you sober…. Hey, it’s a selfish program, right?
And please tell us about your commitment, your new-found resolve. Use more passionate hand gestures. Explain how the last time you stuck a needle in your arm or popped a pill or wound up in a bar it was simply the result of your failure to play the tape through. Diagnose the relapse for us, please. Diagrams would help. We desperately want to know exactly how your willpower failed you. Because we need to keep it green, baby.
Or, you could try something different.
You could recognize that your inability to stay sober is not a failure, but a confirmation that you’ve got alcoholism and/or addiction. You aren’t weak and you don’t lack commitment. You aren’t unloving and uncaring. Your inability to stop yourself from putting mind-altering substances in your body even when you’re stone-cold sober is precisely what alcoholism and addiction are. Hell, if you could play the tape through to the end and say, “golly, I shouldn’t drink this beer,” more power to you. But then, you’ve got something different than I do.
Listen carefully. That soothing voice that’s choreographing your new commitment to sobriety? It’s your disease. It’s playing you. Like a repentant, abusive spouse making solemn promises to change, it’ll tell you whatever you want to hear. It’s a master of disguise and incredibly hard to recognize through the barrage of slogans and fresh determination. It must keep you in the circle of insanity. Because the one thing that voice in your head can’t survive, the one thing you can do that will bring your addiction down, is give up.
Surrender. Stop trying to “stay sober.”
When you are faced with the stark realization that– at some point–you are absolutely, positively going to drink or use, you’ve arrived at the jumping-off point. Can you recognize that the first step does not mean you just can’t drink or use? It means you can’t HELP but drink or use. Have you been sufficiently persuaded—you are powerless, and you will die?
Now you’re ready. (JW)