Nobody has to be one of those scary recovery statistics if they don’t want to be.
You know the statistics I am talking about–the ones where they declare that a tiny, small percentage of people seeking sobriety will ever make it to 5 years sober, to ten years sober, and beyond? The statistics that, when you hear them out loud, make you wonder if it is even worth trying to clean yourself up? Those statistics. The negative ones. The dismal, pessimistic statistics.
I am sure you have heard some of them, and if you haven’t yet, just stick around. Go to a hundred AA meetings and I can promise that at some point you will hear someone quote how the odds are overwhelmingly against you when you try to get clean and sober. You will hear things like “only 5 percent make it” and “the success rates today are nowhere near what they were in the good old days” and on and on and on. It’s all doom and gloom and negativity. People just love to quote these scary statistics for a variety of reasons.
When you hear those things, however, I want you to just grin inwardly and draw strength from it.
Here I am, clean and sober today, over 16 years after going to a 28 day rehab program and starting out in AA meetings. I had to listen to people quote those scary statistics over and over again, and yet I never relapsed. Here I am, living an awesome life of sobriety, and I guess that I am that one in a million who gets to be blessed enough to make it in recovery.
But guess what? I have a set of peers who came along with me for the ride. And if you go to the AA club on the right night, you can hear them celebrate clean time and hand out recovery coins and you will see that the programs are definitely working for people.
You get to decide what your outcome is. Once you go to inpatient rehab and you sober up and make it through detox, the choice is entirely up to you. No longer are you being tossed around by the fates of the universe, to be torn apart by your addiction and thrown around as if you are not in control.
That all goes away when you check into rehab.
Because now you have a choice. When you finish a 28 day inpatient rehab program and you walk out of those doors back into the real world, the choice is entirely up to you.
They have told you what to do in order to stay clean and sober.
Who is “they?” The therapists, the counselors, the peers in AA, the sponsor in AA, and so on. All of those teachers and mentors and trained professionals have told you what you need to do in order to remain clean and sober.
Now it is entirely up to you to follow through and actually do it.
So how do you go about doing this? How do you become that one person in a million (or whatever the actual statistic is, who knows these days)?
I can tell you exactly how to do it. First, get on the phone and call a rehab center and go to treatment. This is probably the hardest part because no one wants to admit that they need inpatient treatment in order to get control of themselves and of their life. But if you have been struggling for a long time then you know that this is the best path for you. Go to rehab. Just do it.
But you’re not done yet, oh no! You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. Checking into detox and residential treatment is just the tip of the iceberg. You have a mountain of work ahead of you if you want your recovery to actually last. If you want to make it to a year sober, to 5 years sober, to 10 years sober…..then you have to put in a massive effort.
What you really need to do, as a matter of fact, is you have to dedicate your life to recovery. Period. End of story.
What this means is that you must go all out, hold nothing back, and do whatever is asked of you in your recovery journey.
If you go to rehab and they say “we believe that you would benefit greatly from living in recovery housing” then you go live in a halfway house for however long they tell you to live there.
It is that simple.
When I was still stuck in denial I did not want to hear that. I did not want to hear someone tell me that I needed to go live in a halfway house for months or even years. I would not hear of it. How dare they try to take away my freedom, I stubbornly exclaimed. How dare they!
What I did not realize is that the therapists and counselors were attempting to guide me to freedom. I was, at the time, trapped in chains of my own design, because I was stuck in denial and forced to self medicate with alcohol and drugs every day. I had no choice in the matter any more because I was addicted and I was trapped. My only way out was through treatment and counseling and therapy and meetings, but I was rejecting that solution because I had a million and one excuses as to why AA wouldn’t work for me, or why rehab would fail and how I had been there before, and on and on and on. A million and one excuses as to why I just had to keep getting drunk and high every single day in order to survive.
Ridiculous. This was blatant denial. I was trapped in my own addiction, and the people who wanted me to go to rehab and live in recovery housing were attempting to set me free. But I could not see that because the drugs and the alcohol were in control of me, and they wanted me to keep drinking and using, and that was what my fear was based on. That was what drove my denial. I was afraid of sobriety. I was afraid to face myself. I kept drinking and drugging because I was running away from my true self. I was a coward in my addiction. I can look back and see that today.
So why did I not become another dismal statistic? Because I finally surrendered. I finally gave up. I was close to complete self destruction, but I surrendered and I decided to give recovery another chance. I had been to rehab twice before, I had been to AA, and nothing had worked for me. But I was so sick of it all and I just wanted to be done. I wanted the universe to disappear.
So I asked my family for help and they sent me to rehab. And the rehab sent me to live in recovery housing. And I listened to all of the suggestions and the advice from therapists and counselors and sponsors and peers in AA. And I did everything that they told me to do and I got completely out of my own way.
If you are going to succeed in early recovery then you, too, have to figure out what it means to “get completely out of your own way.”
To me this meant that I could not decide anything. I had to ask for help and guidance in almost every major decision. I needed other people to do my thinking and deciding for me.
So I made an agreement with myself to do exactly that: To outsource my decisions for the first year of sobriety.
And it worked. It worked so well that before the 6 month mark I was practically weeping with gratitude at the happiness, freedom, and joy that I had discovered, thanks to my sobriety. Life was worth living again, and it was through no doing of my own. I had “gotten out of my way” completely, and let others direct my actions for me.
This can work for you too. And it all starts with surrender, and a call to rehab. Good luck!