M(3), 9/14/15: Staying Away From The First Drink
Posted by themiracleisaroundthecorner
Happy Monday to all!
We finally, after what feels like ages, had a decent sized crowd this morning, a sure indication that fall is here. Not entirely sure why the summer brings smaller meeting attendance, but 3 summers into running this meeting, and the fact remains the same.
The stunningly perfect fall day in my neck of the woods could have gotten people out of their houses as well.
In any event, big crowd, and my favorite book in the literature rotation, Living Sober. And the icing on the cake: two newcomers, one of whom had never heard of the book before!
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, Living Sober is the only book in the 12-step literature selection that made even the tiniest bit of sense to me in early sobriety. It is like a manual on how to get and stay sober. It is easy to read, and chock full of practical, relevant advice if you are just starting on your road to recovery.
Come to think of it, it’s relevant even if you’re further along that recovery road!
Today we read the chapter entitled “Staying Away From The First Drink.” It goes on to describe the benefits of focusing on not picking up the first drink when trying to get sober.
Most people, myself included, read this advice and thought, “Well, duh!” It sounds oversimple, almost a waste of paper and ink writing a chapter on something so obvious.
But for those of us who have tried and failed to stop drinking, we need to think harder about this advice before we toss it aside. How many times have we gone into an evening promising ourselves that we’d just have one, and then wound up drinking more than we could even remember? Or swearing we would go an evening/weekend/month without alcohol, just to prove to ourselves that we could, and wind up giving in at the first possible opportunity?
In giving up on sobriety, the process is usually the same: I’ll drink, but I’ll do so moderately. I’ll set a limit, I’ll drink water in between drinks, I’ll drink as slow as my moderately drinking friend X, I’ll only drink beer. This list could go on for quite a bit.
Sometimes these strategies work, which proves to us even more conclusively that we weren’t that bad. Look… I went out for the evening and only drank 2 glasses of wine… what problem drinker can say that?
The person in denial of problem drinking will keep that 2-glasses-of-wine-night in his or her back pocket for a long, long time. It will be pulled out as evidence any time the threat of being called an alcoholic is near.
The chapter goes on to describe how much simpler it is to stay away from the first drink. Rather than obsess over counting how many, how drunk, how fast you’re imbibing, how much alcohol before you’ve crossed the line, keep your focus much narrower, and simply avoid the first drink. In so doing, you take off the table any concerns about every one of those other issues.
I remember thinking this was the most annoyingly obvious piece of advice that did me no good, and I remember when I decided it was the most ingenious bit of wisdom that anyone ever conceived. Often, the simplest things are the most inspired.
This advice took on new meaning for me in later stages of recovery. If you attend enough meetings you will surely hear a long-timer sagely intone, “You are either moving towards a drink or away from one.” It drives me crazy when I hear it, and sets my monkey mind into overdrive: oh no! I might be heading towards a drink right now! I might have been heading towards one for hours/days/weeks/months! Maybe I will relapse, and look back and realize the relapse started right this very second!!!
If you wonder if I’m exaggerating for effect… I am not. If anything, I’m understating.
The advice “just stay away from the first drink” is the antidote to this mental madness. If I do nothing else right, and everything else wrong, as long as I stay away from that first drink, I am sober.
In honor of National Recovery month, I wrote a few lines for the website addiction.com. Check it out!
Posted on September 14, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, early sobriety, Living Sober, Meeting, Monday, Recovery, Sobriety, Staying Away From The First Drink, Support Groups, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.