One of the big truths that I’ve figured out in my almost 8 years of sobriety is that the social solution to addiction is a dead end.
What do I mean be the “social solution?”
What I’ve seen in recovery is that most people who find success in early recovery do so through heavy involvement in 12 step fellowships. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, what I have observed is that people tend to use these programs as a social solution. Essentially, people have a tendency to use meetings as group therapy, which is not necessarily in line with the principles of the program.
If you attend a variety of meetings you will hear this social aspect of recovery being emphasized. People will talk about how it is a “we” program and how “we” recovery together. This is simply self assurance from people to convince themselves that they are working a good recovery program because they tend to focus on the social aspect of things.
What I’m cautioning against is this extreme emphasis on the social solution because from what I have seen and experienced the social solution does not work. It is not a “we” program and the 12 steps were designed to be taken as a path for an individuals sobriety. There is no great emphasis on the “we” program in the Big Book of AA and in fact they do not even push the idea of sponsorship. The heavy social emphasis in AA is quite new and in fact is not critical or even helpful for sobriety. Yes it has always been about one addict helping another, but the steps are supposed to be the solution, not this social crutch strategy that consists of daily meeting attendance.
If you’re still using meetings as your main lifeline, start creating and shifting towards self-sufficient sobriety. The traditional recovery “experts” in meetings will caution you that you’re headed for relapse. Don’t listen to them – this is a fear based response on their part. They will express fear for the individual who pursues a more solitary path because they want to reassure themselves that they are following the “right path to sobriety” with their social solution of daily meetings. There is nothing necessarily wrong with their path – there is no right or wrong path. But there is fear out there and plenty of it and if you threaten someone’s mode of sobriety then you should expect to get a fear-based response from them.
Now this is not a knock against 12 step based recovery because the 12 step program is actually designed to be a program of action that can be quite effective in my opinion. But the reality is that if you attend meetings then you’re not seeing a lot of action-driven “winners” in recovery, instead the majority are complacent people who are using the social solution as a “good enough” solution for recovery. The AA program is one of action but that is not what most are actually doing in modern day AA – most are just using meetings as a crutch without really being driven to action and really living the principles of the program.
This is not the intention of the AA founders nor is it the path you want to take. If you want to reap the real benefits of recovery then you need to look beyond the typical social solution that is found in traditional recovery and start creating your future with positive action. This act of creation has nothing to do with the social aspect of modern day recovery. This is why you’ll sometimes hear the real winners around the table of AA say things like “the solution is in the steps,” or “recovery is about what you do OUTSIDE of meetings,” and so on. These people understand that having a social crutch in the form of daily meetings is a failed solution that is not sustainable. They understand that more is required than just showing up to meetings.
Even the Big Book of AA talks about how every alcoholic will eventually get to a point where they will have no defense against the first drink and that they will have to rely on their higher power to overcome this situation. Others have correctly stated that even if you get phone numbers and have a sponsor, you will eventually face a situation where you will have the choice to use drugs or alcohol and “no one but you will know about it.” It’s in these types of inevitable situations that the social solution fails us and we need to draw strength internally or from our higher power.
We know that if we continue to go through life that these “tests” will eventually come up for all of us, and we need to be prepared to overcome them. Knowing this, why would we place our sobriety in the hands of someone else (by relying on daily meetings to keep us sober?).
Start transitioning to creative recovery and learn to draw upon your own strength to get through life. You can still connect and network with others in recovery without it becoming a dependency for you.