Any recovering alcoholic needs to do a couple of things in order to make it beyond early sobriety and transition into long term recovery. Many people believe that if an alcoholic can make it through the first year or so of sobriety that they basically “have it licked” and are not likely to return to drinking. This turns out to be a false belief because many people in recovery do relapse after achieving a year or more of sobriety. What is the secret to continuous success? Basically sustained hard work but we can expand a bit on that and dig deeper to see what really needs to be done over the long haul:
1) Personal growth – in the early stages of recovery, most alcoholics are focused on networking. They are going to 12 step meetings every single day and talking with others in recovery. This is conventional recovery and how it works these days, and this is how people stay sober in early recovery most frequently. They network with other alcoholics. This support is what keeps them sober. Most of them are not actively working the program as suggested in the steps or doing any other type of personal growth stuff outside of the fellowship. But going to meetings and benefiting from the support is generally enough to keep someone sober for a while.
At some point that must change. Now I am not a huge fan of 12 step programs but they can and do work for some people and if you are in one then you need to stop paying lip service to the steps and start living them every day and working with other recovering alcoholics. Your recovery would probably be stronger if you stopped going to meetings every day and forced yourself to concentrate on those things instead. Social networking as a method of recovery is not a strong, long term strategy. Pushing yourself towards personal growth is a better angle.
2) Working with others – This is a huge key to recovery and if you have been sober for a few years and you are still not actively helping other addicts or alcoholics in any way in your life, then you are in great danger of relapsing. At the very least you need to be reaching out and helping other people every day. Your recovery will be that much stronger if they happen to be struggling alcoholics. We get so much stronger by working with others and this is a key to long term sobriety.
3) Holistic health and wellness – This goes along with personal growth. Anyone who is living in long term recovery from alcoholism would do well to tackle many of these areas in their life and try to improve them:
* Physical fitness
* Emotional balance
And so on. If you can improve your life in each of these areas, then it will have a positive effect on your life as a whole, and you will be more likely to stay sober as a result of this.