Teetering on the Brink of Recovery?

Posted on January 30th, 2014

There is a moment when we come to the fork in the road and we’re given two options: continue in the addiction or choose recovery. To the non-addict, this is a simple decision. Give up the thing that is killing you and just get well. But to the addict, though he is caught in a cycle of futility, unhappiness and slow suicide, it isn’t simple at all.

If you are the addict, perhaps you’ve reached the point of not knowing what to do. Your life is a mess—unmanageable, unfixable and seemingly hopeless. Your professional life may be in shambles, your family and friends are on your case, maybe there has even been trouble with the law. The problems have grown too complex and knotty to untangle. You live for the fix while at the same time hating it more and more every day. You think about giving it up but can’t bear the thought of a life of sobriety and AA meetings.

We have to acknowledge exactly what it is that we are so afraid to let go of. It isn’t that we just love being drunk all the time. What we really want is to go back to that place where we once were—when we drank normally and within bounds. We want normal enjoyment of alcohol. We want to go out for the after-work cocktail or to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine at a dinner party.

But that was so long ago. And the sad reality is this: you’re not ever going back there. We hate the sound of that—so definite, so final. But, surely some people have gone a little too far and then gone back to normal, moderate, sane drinking? Surely some have learned how to moderate?

Actually no. That doesn’t happen. And the testimonies of hundreds of thousands of alcoholics and other addicts can substantiate it. It’s a nice thought, but not a realistic one. And the sooner you can eliminate the fantasy, the sooner you can move forward with recovery. Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Over time we get worse, not better. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to be the exception to the rule, though you certainly have the right to waste a few more years of your life trying. The choice is yours.

The other option is recovery—rehab, 12-step meetings, sobriety, sponsors, freedom from addiction. And most of us, even if we can’t actually imagine life without alcohol, have to admit that there is an aspect of this alcohol-free world that really appeals to us. If we have ever attended an AA meeting, we’ve seen the overwhelming and sometimes even a little obnoxious spunk, joy and excitement of these ex-drunks. How are they so happy without booze? How is it that they make the sober life look so much easier?

It isn’t that life in recovery is so much easier, or that it is without mistakes or challenges, or that it is never hard or disappointing. But something happens when the chains are broken—when life becomes more than living for the next drink, the next binge, the next high. It’s a life we don’t completely understand, but that we may be growing curious about.

As you have probably heard, if recovery is going to work for you, you have to hit bottom. And you may be thinking, “But I haven’t hit bottom. Certainly things could get a lot worse than they now are.” And you may be right. Maybe you still have your job, maybe you still have your marriage, and maybe you haven’t lost your driver’s license or wound up in jail yet. But is that what you need in order to believe that this situation isn’t going to turn itself around?

Take stock of your life now. You don’t need to lose everything you hold dear to recognize you have a problem that isn’t going away. And this can be your bottom: the honest and humble realization that the spiral of your life in addiction is only moving in a downward trajectory. Seeing that, you can make a choice to name this day the day you hit bottom. Not because there was nothing left to lose but because you decided there was nothing more you were willing to give up.

Don’t go to rehab or to the AA meeting because someone else is pressuring you. Take a long look at your own life and start to remember what it was like before you became a drunk; before the daily pain became more than you could handle. Remember your dreams and the things you hoped for. This disease doesn’t have to be a death sentence. And you were created for more than wasting away with a bottle. You life has a purpose—it is not too late to realize it.

Recovery, when you are ready for it, is worth it. There is hope. You can take the road to recovery instead of the downward slope of continued addiction. The choice is yours and the moment is now. One step at a time, one day at a time…you’ll get there.

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