What are the secrets to giving up drinking and staying happy with your life at the same time? Any alcoholic will tell you that they are miserable when they get sober; this is what keeps them drinking. The fear of sobriety is a bigger pull than the lure of intoxication. So it goes with alcoholism.
So what are the secrets to turning your life around, and finding a new happiness in sobriety? It can be done. I would go so far as to say that any drunk can pull it off, if they get desperate enough.
It is not about being smart, that is for sure. I think the smartest drunks probably do end up drinking themselves to death. But for the rest of us, here are the secret keys that make the process of recovery unfold:
* Abstinence. This is the first secret. Everyone who is not alcoholic could tell you this is a no-brainer, but to the alcoholic, it is a mystery. They struggle to control their intake, but the secret is to abstain entirely.
* Discipline. Another insight from people who struggled through their first few years of recovery. They can look back and say “yes, I did learn discipline.” How you actually do this is probably not so critical. But you have to do it. Period.
* Learning. You have to become willing to learn when you sober up. This becomes your new goal in life for the first couple years of recovery. Why? Because you have to relearn nearly everything in sobriety. You have to learn how to live a sober life. This is a huge undertaking. It requires lots and lots of learning. Get used to it!
* Change. You have to evolve and grow as a person in recovery. This is a stumbling block for some who would rather stay stuck in the first step mentality of beginner AA meetings and not really push themselves to learn much. Over the long run in recovery, you have to keep learning and growing or you will slide back into relapse. There are only two directions in recovery: towards a better life, or towards relapse. You pick, every day.
* Holistic growth. This is the big secret that sounds a little bit “foo foo” but when you break it down it actually does make sense:
Holistic just means “whole person.” When you treat someone “holistically,” you treat their whole self, not just one part of them. Traditionally, recovery solutions for alcoholism only treat the spiritual malady. This is a huge mistake, and a huge weakness on the part of some programs.
No, in order to treat addiction or alcoholism, you need to treat the “whole person.” This requires an holistic approach, not a spiritual one. (Keep in mind that an holistic approach includes spirituality. It is bigger than that).
Think about it: if you take positive action in your life, you will thrive in recovery. If you stop doing so, you will slide back towards a relapse. Those are your only 2 options really.
Now, what is “positive action?” What does that entail?
I can tell you where you would draw from for ideas on taking positive action. You would consider your “whole person” in your recovery, and seek to make positive growth in all of those areas.
This would include your spiritual self, but also your physical self, and other aspects as well.
So you might consider nutrition, emotional health, fitness, and so on.
If you limit yourself to just spiritual growth, you are missing out on a major source of strength in your recovery.
So these are not so much “secrets,” as they are concepts that will reveal themselves to you while you explore your long term sobriety. You take positive action, then look back and see the various ways in which you have grown. This is the process of recovery.