6 Things that a Recovering Alcoholic Needs to Learn in Order to Stay Sober

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Getting sober involves learning. There is no way around it. After using alcohol as our main coping mechanism for years and years, the challenge in early sobriety is to learn how to life our live without using self medicating as a crutch.

Here are six lessons in particular that every alcoholic has to learn in order to stay sober:

Six Critical Lessons

1. How to make a “zero tolerance” policy with yourself about not taking any mood or mind altering substances.

The “zero tolerance policy” is a condition that you place on yourself that says “no matter what.”

It basically reads as such: “I will not use drugs or alcohol today no matter what.”

Most people have no problem focusing on the idea of “not using drugs or alcohol.” What they often fail to realize is that the important part of this strategy is the no matter what part.

When you first get clean and sober, maintaining abstinence needs to become your number one priority in life. You have to set it above all other things, even above things such as family, love, relationships, religion, and so on. Everything gets bumped a notch down as your new, most important mission in life is to “not use drugs or alcohol today no matter what.”

This is the first action step of any long term recovery plan. The commitment to abstain, no matter what. It is more important than everything else. Period.

Why does this need to be learned?

Failure to grasp the idea of the zero tolerance policy results in relapse. If you do not commit absolutely, then you will most certainly relapse.

But the idea of having a zero tolerance policy towards relapse does much more than just prevent relapse. It actually changes how we live our lives, because each day, we completely write off the potential for using drugs or alcohol. This fierce commitment to abstinence frees up a lot of time and mental energy that might otherwise be spent needlessly obsessing on things. The quality of our life improves because we become more focused on positive action, simply because we do not have to hem and haw over whether we might take a drink or a drug that day.

It is not about raw willpower. We all know that willpower is typically not enough to overcome a real addiction. This is more about reprogramming your mind in early recovery. The thought of relapse should become like poison to you. The idea of taking a swig of alcohol should be like touching a hot stove. If you are not at that point, then something needs to change.

What is the best way to go about learning this?

The best way to learn discipline is through….practicing discipline.

Your only real option is to set the rules down for yourself and follow them ruthlessly. This is why you should add the modifier “no matter what.” It is not enough to simply swear off drugs and alcohol for the day. You must do it with real conviction. “I will not use drugs or alcohol today no matter what.” This must become your highest truth, your mantra.

You’ve either got it or you don’t. Either you have surrendered to your addiction and you are ready to stop, or you are not. Once you are at this point, you need to learn the discipline of waking up every day and saying “I am not going to use drugs or alcohol today, no matter what.”

And you have to really live it.

2. How to embrace a creative mindset so that you are actively shaping the story of your life, rather than just letting things happen to you and then playing the victim all the time.

One common problem among alcoholics is that they tend to react a lot. Things happen in their life, and they react to them. Of course everybody does this, but the alcoholic tends to do it with a special flair, in a way that seems to bring all sorts of additional problems and drama into their life.

For some people, this may manifest as “being a drama queen.”

For others, it may be that they are always on the pity pot, and constantly playing the victim.

And for still other alcoholics, it may be that they are angry and lashing out at the world, because they are convinced that everyone has it in for them.

In any case, these types of mental games have to stop. If you are going to have any shot at staying sober in the long run, you have to learn how to shut these things down.

Why does this need to be learned?

Playing the victim, lashing out in resentment, and instigating more drama and chaos in your life can only lead you back to one thing: relapse.

They are all roads that lead you back to self medicating. They are mental obsessions that trap you in a cycle of self destructive behavior, the ultimate outcome of which is always going to end in you getting drunk again, eventually.

None of these patterns of behavior are sustainable. If you are constantly angry at others with resentment, you will eventually self medicate out of anger at yourself. If you are constantly playing the victim, eventually you will take your own medicine, and justify it because you have built up such a huge case in your mind for all the hurt you have suffered. If you are constantly stirring up more drama in your life, then you have all the excuses in the world that you need to slip back into drinking.

What is the best way to go about learning this?

So how do you stop these self destructive behavior patterns?

Through creation. You have to create your way out of these problems. This means that getting rid of self pity and resentment and drama is not an act of elimination, but an act of creation.

It is a positive step. You have to do something positive in order to overcome this cycle.

For example, moving beyond self pity almost always involves gratitude. But it is not just sitting there on a chair, telling yourself to be more grateful. This is nowhere near the real solution.

No, the real solution is an act of creation. It involves action. You have to live the solution. So in the pursuit of gratitude, you have to actually put in some effort, try to do some different things, maybe help some people. It is through action that you overcome self pity.

This is different from simply reacting to life every day. You are creating, in this case. Put forth the initiative to help others, to participate, to make a difference. You can’t just wish your way to being grateful. You have to live it.

This is deliberate, conscious living. Creative recovery. The time for blaming other people for your problems is over. Blaming others will not keep you sober. Creating your own life and owning your path is the way to long term sobriety.

Everyone’s path is unique. Here are some sample actions that you might take in recovery:

* Exercising on a regular basis (seriously underrated in mainstream recovery).

* Reaching out and helping other alcoholics.

* Setting goals for your own personal growth and achieving them (quitting smoking, finishing a degree in school, etc.)

* Learning. Seeking higher education, deepening your spiritual foundation, or learning a new skill. Deliberately setting out to learn new things and expand your borders.

Notice that all of these things involve action. Doing. Recovery is not about sitting at home and thinking about this stuff. It is about living it, about experiencing it. This is what is meant by “embracing the creative mindset.”

The recovering alcoholic has to learn how to actively overcome their stumbling blocks in recovery. The armchair philosopher or the chronic intelectualizer is bound to relapse.

You have to get your hands a bit dirty to stay sober.

You have to learn how to live through positive action.

3. How to overcome complacency.

Complacency is what happens when a recovering alcoholic gets stuck in a routine that just barely keeps them sober. Instead of continuing to grow as a person, their progress sort of levels off and they are just coasting in their recovery. They might still be doing certain things for their recovery (such as going to meetings), but they are no longer really making solid growth in their life. They have stagnated.

Why does this need to be learned?

Complacency can easily lead to relapse, if it is left unchecked. The strongest form of relapse prevention is positive, continuous growth.

If you stop growing in recovery, eventually you will drink. So, the recovering alcoholic must learn how to overcome complacency, and recognize when it is setting in.

What is the best way to go about learning this?

One common way, unfortunately, is to become complacent in recovery, relapse, then look back and see how it all happened. Obviously, you don’t want to learn it this way.

Instead, you want to be proactive about this lesson. Learn it by attacking the issue of complacency with massive action in your life.

Like most of these problems, the first part of the solution starts with awareness. What are you doing today to help grow in your recovery?

Next, you need to push yourself to keep on growing. For example, if you have obvious issues in your life, such as cigarette smoking or a lack of fitness, then you know that you have some issues that need to be addressed as you move forward in your recovery. Sure, you could continue to smoke and stay out of shape for the next 10 years of your recovery, and you might not relapse because of it. However, if you take a proactive approach and tackle both of these issues, your overall recovery becomes substantially stronger because of it.

If you are engaged in positive, personal growth every day, you become much more protected from the threat of relapse. In a way, it is like you have “farther to fall” when you are constantly pushing yourself to grow all the time.

Continuous, personal growth is a like a buffer against relapse. Embrace holistic growth and you will overcome complacency.

4. How to communicate like a human being (to put it bluntly, how to stop acting like a jerk).

The longer we abuse alcohol, the worse our communication skills get. This is due to a number of factors.

For one thing, any alcoholic will tend more and more towards isolation as the years go by. They will simply distance themselves more and more from friends and family if they continue to drink.

But in addition to that, alcoholism ruins communication skills from the inside out. It does this because the alcoholic comes to rely more and more on the alcohol to help regulate their emotions.

In a healthy relationship, when various emotions arise, the people need to deal with those emotions in a healthy way, by communicating about them. Even with the occasional fight, people who are communicating their real emotions while sober are going to be much better than an alcoholic who is simply medicating their emotions at every turn.

Why does this need to be learned?

The moment of relapse for an alcoholic is always driven by raw emotion. Instead of communicating and dealing with their frustration, fear, or anger, the alcoholic says “screw it” and takes a drink instead. The way to avoid doing this is to confront the emotions head on and actually deal with them. This almost always involves communicating with another person.

It sounds complicated but it is actually quite simple. Basically, an alcoholic has to learn how to “talk out their problems” rather than give in to self medicating.

What is the best way to go about learning this?

Learn by doing, as usual.

First comes the awareness. If the alcoholic does not even realize when they are sliding into this “danger zone,” then they cannot do anything to correct the problem. So the first step is to form an awareness of when things are becoming a problem.

Then the person simply needs to practice cooling down for a bit, followed up with communication to resolve their emotional upset.

One natural example of this is when an alcoholic become enraged at a coworker. The best response is probably to cool down for a while, then confront the coworker in a calm manner and explain how their behavior affected you. Without hurling insults or opinions around, you simply state how their actions made you feel inside. Hard to do for most people, but very therapeutic. Doing this can mean the difference between drinking and staying sober.

This is a huge point. Many recovering alcoholics dismiss the idea of communicating their emotions as being unimportant. But if we study those who have relapsed, it is almost always over emotional upset with others, that could have been solved with healthy communication.

5. How to have fun while sober.

When you are trapped in the cycle of alcoholism, the idea of having fun without drinking is not realistic. The active alcoholic has to have booze in order to enjoy themselves.

At first, just getting drunk is a blast. Later on, when we become dependent on drinking, we have to have it in order to enjoy normal activities. For example, going to a movie or watching a sporting event. Alcoholics can enjoy these sorts of things, but only if they are self medicating while they do them. Without the buzz, it is no longer fun. This is one way that dependence affects us.

When an alcoholic sobers up, their “fun” sort of evaporates for a while. They are miserable without the ability to self medicate. And they believe they will never have any fun in their life, ever again.

Why does this need to be learned?

Obviously, in order to avoid relapse in the long term, the alcoholic must learn how to have fun again while sober. If we stay miserable in recovery, we will eventually say “screw it” and go back to what we know: self medicating with alcohol so that we can have a good time.

No matter how serious a person you may be, deep down, everyone knows that they are entitled to have some fun in their life. And just about any alcoholic in early recovery can use this as an excuse to drink, if they want to. They may be feeling down for a while, and going back to the bottle would be “instant fun” for them. Of course, the fun only lasts for a short time, and then we are stuck in the misery of daily addiction again in no time at all. But of course our mind will cling to the good times we had while drinking, and remember those as if they were more plentiful than the bad times.

So learning how to have fun again in sobriety is a key part of preventing relapse. When you can have fun again in sobriety, it takes away an excuse to drink.

What is the best way to go about learning this?

The best way to learn this is to take a leap of faith, and realize that you actually will have fun again if you stick it out in early recovery. Most alcoholics will admit that they have found a way to enjoy themselves, sober, within the first few weeks of sobriety. So it is crazy to believe that you will never have fun again if you get sober.

As we remain sober in early recovery, we start to learn what is fun for us again in the real world. Our idea of what “fun” consists of slowly starts to change. Life becomes interesting and exciting again based on personal growth and various challenges we might face.

6. And finally, you have to learn that taking massive, positive, action in your life trumps careful planning every time.

Hopefully this is becoming more and more evident to you by now: action trumps thinking any day of the week.

How many times have we sat around while we were still drinking, trying to think our way into recovery? This is a fantasy world. We sit there and wish that things were different, but without putting in the effort, nothing will change.

Massive action leads to success in recovery. Just about anything else results in relapse.

In other words, if you want to have success in recovery just handed to you on a silver platter, without having to put in any hard work, then you are in for a huge disappointment.

Why does this need to be learned?

Just about everyone who tries to sober up fails to learn this lesson the first time around. Why?

Because we almost always underestimate how difficult it will be to achieve meaningful sobriety. At the same time, we tend to overestimate our own abilities. This is typical, because we expect recovery to be fairly easy, just like most of the other average challenges in our lives.

With most life challenges, we can put forth a modest effort and get back modest results. This is NOT the case with recovery. Putting in a modest effort results in relapse. The only way to achieve success in recovery is to make a full, committed effort–one that consumes your entire life and takes pretty much all of your available energy. Early recovery should be intense. Early recovery should involve huge amounts of dedication. Without this intense effort, relapse is almost certain to occur.

What is the best way to go about learning this?

Unfortunately, the only way I have seen people learn this (including myself) is to try at recovery and then fail at it.

That might sound discouraging, pessimistic, or just plain negative, but really it is not. The simple truth is that most people need to try and get sober a few times before they can finally “make it stick.”

Recovery is hard work. The best way to learn this (really the only way to learn this) is to jump right in and take your lumps. If you have tried in the past to stay sober, and ended up relapsing, then you know that you need to try harder.

Through failing, we see just how much effort it really requires to stay sober.

For me, this meant a progression from counseling, to treatment, to long term treatment. Living in long term rehab is what finally “did the trick” for me. That is why they say that “it takes what it takes.” For some people, they have to wreck cars, lose homes, lose marriages, and go to prison….and then they might still not even stop drinking.

So for me, it took what it took. It took living in long term rehab. But, I was not willing to do this at first, even though many people (and professionals) were suggesting this to me as an ideal solution for my drinking problem. At the time, I was not willing to live in rehab. I was not done drinking, and was still trapped in denial.

So how did I learn that this is what it would take for me to be sober? I learned it the hard way….by refusing to go to long term treatment, and continuing to stay miserable while drinking for a few years. It was only after I had endured enough pain and misery at the hands of alcohol that I was willing to consider long term treatment as a solution.

There are a million sayings in recovery that address this idea. “Go to any lengths.” “It takes what it takes.” “Half measures availed us nothing.”

It all boils down to the same thing: you have to work your tail off in recovery if you want to succeed, stay sober, and have an awesome new life.

Massive action is the key to success in recovery. Nobody can do the work for you, either.

What do you think?  What are the critical things that you must learn to stay sober?


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  • Mark D.

    Another great article. I especially liked the part of getting rid of self pity and resentment and drama is not an act of elimination, but an act of creation. Love how you broke this down on why does this need to learned and then give the what is the best way of learining this. Again you have proven what great insight you have concerning this disease.

  • Anonymous

    I think im ready. i read the whole thing. that was amazing in its self. Thanks so much. Massive Action

  • Joshlyn

    I need a copy of this

  • Patrick

    @Joshlyn – print it out! You are free to use it how you like…

  • Rosaleen

    After posting a self pitying plea, I read this. Thankyou it is solid, good advice.

  • Chris

    Lots of helpful hints for a partner of an alcoholic who thinks he has faced up to it and says he will stay sober, but not really ready yet. He has not attended AA when he said he would and lasted less than a week before having another drink. After reading your notes, I know we are in for a lot more before a genuine change takes place. Thanks for sharing this. It makes me realise we are not alone, and that this behaviour is normal for an alcoholic. I love my husband and hope we can last the distance – though as many have said, it’s VERY hard sometimes.

  • Renea

    Incredible Insight, Wonderfully Written! I don’t believe I’ve ever read better advice. Re: Pity – one AA club I attended had an actual porcelan toilet (cleaned, of course, and unplumbed) sitting in the corner as a prop to remind us all of one important emotion to avoid. T’was quite helpful, actually. ;-)
    *5 yrs Sober

  • Patrick

    @ Renea – thank you so much for the kind words! Love the idea of the porcelain pity pot!

  • steve

    Having lost my job to booze last week this made for excellent reading. Thank you

  • Danielle

    I think this could help my partner which i have emailed him- he had been sober since our daughter was 2.5months old for 7months after missing the birth thru alcohol he had a detox and just recently gone back to the bottle.
    I hope he can sort it out before he looses more than he can imagen- not just his daughter and the baby were expecting or me or his family but HIS HEALTH and life!
    I dont know how i would explain daddys in heaven because he couldnt give up the booze to our 10month old and unborn baby! she loves her daddy dearly and deserves more than to suffer the heart break that we all have for 8years!

  • Leana Jo H.

    I find exercise, going to meetings, believing in a Higher Power, and staying away from certain places and people has really helped me to stay sober. And I love reading other peoples stories of recovery (like A.A Grapevine magazine), they really help me a lot too.

  • robert

    I have had to battle clinical depression and i give up drink every so often until i feel “better” it changes the way you think, it has cost me everything. The woman i love more than anything. I have no energy to deal with everyday life i i get scared at the slightest thing sometimes, and the worst thing is i am a quite tough guy inside. I have been abuseand no longer will i use my previous life as an excuse to drink. This is MY time. My time is now. Thanks patrick never seen it laid out black and white before.

  • Deb

    I was given a link to this website by a friend and this article is soooo helpful. So much good information. Everything you said is me to a “T”. I’m the poster child for self-pity, resentment and the victim mentality. I’ve “known” what I need to do to stay sober, I just haven’t ever taken serious action. Thank you so much!!!

  • Paul H

    Hi Patrick, I’m really enjoying your writings. I got sober in AA more than seven years ago and have experienced a profound change of consciousness – of personhood I suppose – as a result of taking some actions recommended.

    Your words resonate very strongly with me. But I find myself wondering – I’ll bet you get asked this all the time – do you think that people can achieve deep seated recovery without AA? I notice that you were 20 montsh in rehab – which I guess was pretty 12 step structured, even if they did use a group therapy approach – plus you attended AA for a year or two after. A lot of what you recommend on this page is very consistent with an AA approach. So do you think that people can get sober and recovered without taking the sharing, serving, inventory taking, character defect-ridding apporahc which we have both benefitted from?

    All the best – I loved the stuff that you wrote about getting sober versus staying sober. I found it… reassuring!

  • Patrick

    @ Paul H – That is a very good point and I should really explore it more thoroughly.

    I know for sure that people can get sober without AA, because people accomplished this feat before AA existed. I also know of people who are clean and sober today who have never attended AA, ever. Not a whole lot of folks though.

    That said, I think AA has value. I no longer go to it, but that is a matter of priorities. If I had less going on in my life in terms of recovery, I might very well be involved in 12 step programs. But I feel my time is spent better elsewhere.

    I do think that AA can become a crutch for some people, in some cases. But on the whole I still recommend it for short term recovery.

    My thought is that long term sobriety should depend less and less on AA. Just my 2 cents.

    I appreciate your thoughts on the topic Paul H. We should explore it further really….

  • Bryan

    Thanks for this post! It is jan 1st 2011 and I decided this is going to be my year. I am a 32 yr old gay male and found out i was hiv positive a year and 2 months ago, after that my grandma died, then i lost my job, then i lost my apartment and I threw myself a pitty party. I started drinking even more than I had years prior and in doing so have made horrible choices. I od’d on meth and was hospitalized for 6 days,and another night was drunk and od’d on pills and stopped breathing. I woke up in the hospital on a respirator. I am so ready to live a normal sober life and will be applying this advice to help me do so. Thanks again for the post, and best wishes to everyone trying to overcome this horrible disease. Much love, Bryan ;)

  • LostLoveRash

    This is my 2nd day of being sober.
    I only admited to myself that i have a problem now after losing the love of my life.
    Other times i was in denial and tried this and that to cutdown etc.
    Thank you for this article. There is hope out there.
    Makes it a bit harder now though as there is double trouble.
    Losing the one you love will make you want to turn to the one thing that created the problem. I’ll just be strong and with gods grace, I will survive!!!

    Thanks again.

  • LostLoveRash

    3rd day and going strong.
    She doesnt want to have anything to do with me.
    Intially i asked her to support me through this time. She didnt want to but then after reading this article she said she would.
    I realised that this is my problem and i should not be making this hers. She has to deal with her own feelings etc.
    Felt like having a drink so I called her just to hear her voice.
    It made me feel better and i did not touch a drink.
    I’ve even put a sticker on an empty drink bottle saying “You caused nothing but problems for me. Remember that”

    Just as a reminder every morning of my goal to not touch alchohol.

  • Trying Again

    I too decided 2011 would be the definitive transition to an alcohol free life. I went two days, then the third and fourth I all too easily fell back into my drinking routine. Today is the fifth day of the year and I’m scouring the internet for motivation and inspiration to try again.

    In all honesty, I don’t believe I posess a distorted appreciation of my intoxicated state. After a handful of quick drinks, the onset (the best part?) has past its creciendo. After that, it just becomes an unpleasant effort to stay awake and upright. Undoubtedly my drinking is motivated by a myriad of usual reasons, but a few of them are specific to my circumstances. I live alone and by the end of the day, I feel that acutely. Intoxication either occupies my mind or removes me from that reality. Two sides of the same coin. Ironically, each condition probably fosters the other. Also, over a protracted period of time, it apparently has become my conditioned reaction.

    Here’s the thing, something inside me knows that drinking is taking me farther away from any genuine happiness. Every time I drink, that fact is somehow brought to the forefront of my awareness with a fresh sting. I really believe I’m capable of a life of so much more, but I keep undermining it on a nightly basis.

    I hope this confession aids in my efforts. Thank you for the content of your website. It helps me to clarify some of my current thinking and to see some of the insights others have used to be successful. I’ll be re-reading it several more times.

  • marilyn

    Thanks for this – I believe that we are what we create… your paragraph on the creative mindset and actively shaping our future and who we are is vital. No more victim role or paranoia. I just can’t take that first drink as for me one is too many and 1000 is not enough.

  • barry

    I tried AA and detox and a 6 week stint in a rehab programme that was tough.An awful experience it was.The nurses boasted how this “Unit” was the hardest unit to do in Ireland.
    Pulling me out of group therapy cause my undersheet had 2 creases and throwing everything onto the floor and making me remake my bed.i was on blood pressure medication they would not even allow me to take it and my bp was soaring.mY BP WAS NOT SOARING DUE TO DETOX AS I WAS 3 MONTHS SOBER AND ON A WAITING LIST BEFORE I ENTERED REHAB.When i emerged from the rehab and informed my gp of this he went ballistic.He said it was unprofessional,negligent and downright dangerous.
    A load of jumped up nurse on a self egotistigal power trip is all they were.On my last day i giot my chance to tell them what i thought of them and for once in my life i was honest like they told be to be but they didnt like it.
    I drank a once or twice a year then after that for 4 or 5 years then about 3 1/2 years ago i stopped without meetings or anything.As far as i can see men speak of honesty at top tables whislt having an affair with some women in the group.These were men 25 years sober but nothing more than hypocritical liars cheats and often broke confidence outside AA Rooms
    this is only my experience but to anyne considering AA go with an open mind and keep a good watch on your back and on youyr wife if you have one cause one of the so called sober men will try it on with her.AA is a load of crap for weak minded people who are easily brainwashed,thankfulky my brain worked better than theirs,Thanks for nothing AA!!

  • Margaret

    Any suggestions for a friend of an alcoholic? This article was informative, thanks. But, I would love some help to help her. She goes to meetings and has been to a 30 day rehab, but she is having problems dealing with her emotions without alcohol. She calls me and we get together and talk, but I feel quite helpless, and wish I knew what to do/say to help her more. Thanks

  • Patrick

    @ Margaret – look at some of the free ebooks in my sidebar, some of them deal specifically with helping family members and friends who are addicted. Good luck.

  • Charlie

    I am coming up to one year sober and conintue to question and challenge my road to recovery. I have to thank you for this information and feedback. This article and related info hit the nail ont he head for me. I was starting to question my thoguhts fior recovery. I do belief the recovery for each one of us will be unique and do nto beleive there is a “cookie” cutter” strategy. But this approach provides a framework and guideance that each of us can benefit. Thanks again and please continue to post thoughts ideas and suggestions.

  • Blair

    I have remained sober for a year and 3 months and every now and then miss drinking, but then i remind myself all the awful things it caused and could cause. This was a great article and has made me realize i won’t be attending my sister in law’s bachelorette party. She really wanted me to attend but it’s just not worth the risk! I also liked what you said about how you need to communicate with people more in order to not relapse. I’m the kind of person that when a friend makes me angry i just don’t say anything about it or i just quit talking to them for a while. You made me realize i need to start telling people how i feel! Thanks for the great article! :)

  • Stephanie

    My Husband, just yesterday FINALLY broke down and confessed to me that he was an alcoholic, and has been for years! He went to his fist AA meeting and now I am trying to learn all I can to help support him and be the best possible wife for his recovery. This article really helped me understand what I can expect he might be going through. Thank you for posting

  • jameson

    Thanks for the great advice, I just got arrested again for disorderley conduct and about three months ago I got my second dui. I feel very confident but scared about not abusing alcohol ever again, the term ever again seems so unrealistic or fake but for the past 7 years alcohol has done nothing but harm my life and the loved ones around me.

  • Paul Dolan

    you are very correct, you need to be very active in recovery, in the early stages, it must be the most important thing in your life, really, before family, work, personal security, money, friends, material things, careers, trips, classes, advancement, even sex. The only thing more important in your recovery in GOD. Without His graces your a goner.

    Aloha, (got my six month chip last week). Thank you for your website.

  • william

    thank you.i wish i had read this years ago.its all making sense now.

  • Paul Dolan

    re read this article, not knowing I had made a comment three months ago. Well take massive actions, everyday I tell people in meetings, I am happy to state that I will receive my 9 month chip in 6 days. Hard work but well worth it. Thanks for being there. And thank you GOD. Your will not mine.


  • Jerry Propst Jr.

    After 25 yrs of abuse Jan. 30 2009 I fell to my knees and ask (no begged) my higher power to take alcohol and cigarettes out of my life, I havent touched it since Thankyou Lord I some how know in my heart that I will never drink again!! I just wish I could give this feeling to all alcoholics!! If i can change trust me anybody CAN!!!!

  • dean

    Hello, I’m 46 yrs old and after 30 years of alcoholism I lost it all, home, job, family, everything. In July 2010 I decided to seek help by entering a one year residential treatment program called teen challenge on my own. my x-wife and two children (ages 17 and 21) was happy for me and even brought me to the program. It seemed to be the beginning of hope for me and my family. After I completed the whole year I graduated, got a job, started doing well and then relapsed after 3 months and Immediately got a DUI. I voluntarily came back to do another year because I really want this freedom from alcohol. Instead of receiving support from my family they hate me now. Instead of encouragement they treat me like I’m a child molester or murderer…..why?

  • shellyb

    Hi, I relate to everything in the article. I have just after 20 years of marriage to someone I love more than life itself, admitted that I need help to overcome this disease. It is strange because I have tried and failed so many times and with the strongest conviction every time that I wanted to stop no matter what. I was lying to myself and others. I know that now. I wanted it so much, but was not willing to give it up 100%. That is the disease at work. I have slipped for the maybe 20th time,with lots of promises and lies. I have seen myself fail so many times and had regret and remorse and guilt . I pray that this is the last time and that using the AA program is going to give me the right tools and support to get through today. ( every day) for the rest of my life. I also know that I have to deal with my insecurities and way of life that led me to be this far gone. Burying my emotions and not dealing with any hurt that I have is what destroyed me as a person. I became a shell of a human being, I lost my individual character and lost my personality. And I blamed other people for it the whole time. Instead of taking my life into my own hands and being in charge of my decisions. The only decision I could ever make in my adult life was to drink to forget it all. In essence I have been ‘lazy’. I have chosen the easier path every time, I have to do things differently now or else things will just stay the same. The reinforcement of ACTION in the article above is not falling on deaf ears. I just have to figure out what the action must be now. Thank you all for being a part of recovery. We need each other.

  • Anonymous

    The part about exercise being underrated in mainstream recovery is very significant. The other thing is vitamin and mineral supplementation – I felt miserable without that – when becoming sober. An alcoholic wil feel like crap after having depleted their body of such important nutrients (we are made of the same things the earth itself is).

  • Rick

    Great article.

  • James

    Very inspirational information here. Reading the article and the comments following was good therapy for me. Thanks guys and good luck to all of us who are fighting this battle.

  • Mack

    I’m 14 months sober, 68 years old. I drank heavily for a long time and KNEW for many years I had a big problem called alcoholism. I knew full well because I grew up in a loving family, yes a very loving Irish Catholic family, but many were/are alcoholics …some recovering some not! I’m learing more everyday and sites like this help more than you know! Keep sharing……. this is my first attempt to share. And now a good bud has asked me for some help and guidance ….I just pray I’m up to it! I would not be sober today without my Higher Power.

  • Carlos

    Thank you,just what I need to read .

  • Susan

    This has opened my mind so much! I really needed to read this. Everything happens for a reason.Thank-You!

  • Debbie

    Please everyone keep writing your comments. I have relapsed so many times I lost count. This is my first time I read something about alcohol that makes sense I’m trying again sober six days feeling really bad. I can’t sleep but am very tired. Heart is racing dry mouth muscel aches so bad makes me cry but I know if I don’t stay sober this time I will die my Mom died from it around the same age I am now. I REFUSE TO LET ALCOHOL WIN THIS TIME! I WANT TO LIVE! Please everyone stay strong keep writing I will do the same Deb

  • Tasos M.

    The books of the psychologist Alice Miller will help you a lot too….they deal with repressed feelings, addictions, but they also deal with early childhood…and not all people are willing to face early traumas, they prefer to relate every problem to the present…but the rest of the people will benefit from them for sure..check them out!

  • Tasos M.

    …it is really important…it’s NOT our fault that we treat our systems like that…PLEASE read the books of Alice Miller!!


    Made alot of sense to me just starting on the road to getting sober and hopefully alot happier. Hoping an imroved sex life will take the place of alcohol. happy days ahead, women of Ireland you dont now it yet buy you have just hit the jackpot.

  • K

    I’m 20 days away from my 1 year sober date. Never thought I’d make it through the weekend.

  • sashaveryfierce

    Hope you are well Debbie.
    If u slipped then get back up and lets try again

  • carol

    Just a general question . . . do recovering alcoholics have to give up their old friendships? I have (had) a very good friend that just became sober and I feel like I have the plague because he won’t talk to me at all (I am not a drinker so I didn’t think that would be the issue)

  • Deborah Ladyday Moore

    Do a sober man date differently
    Than he did as a alcoholic?
    Is common sense a super power
    For a dry drunk? How can a man

    When drinking spend ten yrs
    Dating a 8 grade drop out that
    Was married but not spend a
    Descent amount of time with
    A great woman that doesnt
    Abuse and faithful?

  • Jammie Case

    I quit feb 25 2012 and stayed with my partner who drinks. The reason I quit was because I wanted to keep my family and I knew if i didn’t then we would be broken apart. Although I wasn’t the only problem with the drinking I knew it would help. It did and he has slowed down as well but two years later with no help from any group i’m struggling with wanting to throw it all away and have my old life back. Something won’t let me and I know deep down inside I really don’t but it’s getting harder every day to convince myself of that…help i need some advise

  • Eden

    Just found this article googling “what’s the biggest issue facing sober alcoholics”. I too am a sober alcoholic. I really enjoyed this blog post and boy, you are insightful! I’m 40 now, been a binge drinker since my late teens and gradually it spiralled out of control to where I was hiding it. I attended AA and found it to be helpful (luckily I attended the ID meetings first) otherwise I may never have gone back. I agree you can stop without AA. Anyway, thanks Patrick. I’m actually gearing up my blog to assist sober alcoholics find purpose or get their mojo back! been through the same thing! Cheers

  • Tammye Sullivan

    Since January 1999 my mother passed and I started drinking at least 8 ounces or more of hard liquor almost everyday. I tried a few times to stop and I did, but went right back. I was even drinking a couple of ounces before work some days. Now I know some alcoholics may say that is not much but for me it was. I gained over 60 pounds in the last 15 years, high blood pressure, gastritus, thyroid nodule, and a bad attitude. This is all while continuing to work in my career, which somedays I took off just because I was hung over. I guess you could consider me a working alcoholic. For the past 3 days I have not had a drink. Honestly, I am determined not to ever drink hard liquor again, and I was going to wait to Thanksgiving and have some wine and try to only drink wine and only drink it on specail occasions. After reading your article I have this to say. Who the heck am I kidding, I can never drink any kind of alcohol again. This is if I want to be healthy and live. Alcohol Disease run in my family. I have to set an example for anyone that I know that is an alcoholic and knows me. I had a hidden agenda. An the agenda was if you talk to anyone that knows me they will tell you she is not an alcoholic, she works hard, great marriage, and has a great relationship with her family and friends. What a bunch of crock. All they had to do was open the closet door. Only my husband and my only child knew that I love to drink. They warn me many times to stop before something awful happened. Well, it has been 3 days and thank God nothing awful has ever happened to me from drinking. Maybe the attitude problem showed a bit, but other than that God must have been with me the whole time. Some days after work I don’t know which route I took home. I am so embarassed. But I made a vow to turn away from this thing and by reading your article, wine will only lead to back to the volka. Thanks so much for sharing this with me. It gives me courage to press through Thanksgiving, and I will print this out. So that each time I think about giving up, I will read this article over and over and over again. Guess what, I was working out at the gym the whole time.

  • Tammye Sullivan

    I notice that your website have all the material that I need to push me on through many years of sobriety. If there is anything that I can do to be a help to someone else, please feel free to let me know.

  • James

    Great and insightful article. 2nd attempt at kicking alcohol and after reading this I feel more prepared and confident. The first attempt failed after 6 weeks and i believe it was from the lack of positive actions to take up new activities. I wish not to go and drink my feelings and boredom away and want to make new connections with family and friends whilst not drinking. Good Luck to all trying keep the faith, you can do it.

  • Joan Hoyte

    Doesn’t one need therapy to really be successful in abstaining from ever drinking again?

  • John

    This has the look and feel of noob sobriety. Forgive me but, I can’t help but to be just a little offended when someone with single digit sobriety tries to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do to stay sober. For that matter, I know several with two and three decades of sobriety that have just about nothing I want … except sobriety. Being sober for any length of time (11 years in my case) hardly qualifies me to tell someone else how “they need to live or else”. The idea is actually quite laughable.

    I have a problem, specifically, with the bit about refraining from the use of drugs “no matter what”. That’s a death sentence to some. Unless you’re name is followed by the initials MD, you have zero business telling anyone else what drugs they should or should not use. Share your experience, which, in my opinion, should include the part about how I fucked up in life so bad that I had to surrender to AA/NA/CA/GA/DA/OEA etcetera. In short, have some humility.

    I won’t tell my sponsees what to do or what to think. I won’t give them advice unless they ask for it, reluctantly even then. I won’t tell them how they should live or what’s good or bad, etcetera. I will tell them what happened to me, what I did, what worked for me, what I’ve seen and experienced in and outside of AA.

    Ultimately, what they do with that and anything else they pick up along the way is between them and their higher power.


  • Patrick

    Keep coming back John. It gets greater later!

  • Ed Winkle

    I love your post. I am almost 65 and starting recovery again. You give me hope. I feel like crap but know the next drink could lead me to my death, one God or my family does not want for me.

  • gnu4us

    I think you should maintain some sort of contact. Your friend once fully recovered will be more than happy to be in contact. I am recovering at the moment and one thing I feel is shame for my past. I tend to avoid all my old friends. In fact I feel more comfortable in the company of strangers. I hope one day to feel comfortable enough to re-establish contact with my old friends. I still love them. I just do not want to establish contact as yet. I feel judged and wonder whether they will recognise the me that they once knew.

  • gnu4us

    Keep going. They will appreciate the effort you are making in time. Just keep in touch and tell them you still love them.

  • Mike Trotter

    Alcoholics have a physical allergy coupled with mental obsession and “only” a complete spiritual transformation can conquer this. Try eating an entire box of Ex-lax and see how much willpower you have. For those who have relapsed so many times, you know you are an alcoholic and you know alcoholics can’t drink. So why did you drink again? You can come up with probably a hundred excuses. This is called rationalizing. I see that as two words, “Rational Lies” The truth is when you get honest with yourself, you don’t know why you picked up a drink. You have heard, I’m sure, many times that you have to call someone before you pick up a drink. You know why you didn’t call anyone, because they would have tried to stop you. This is powerlessness, less meaning “no power” 1×0=0 You can go to meetings all you want. Lets take say, 10 alcoholics. Each one of them are powerless. How many of them can help you to stay sober? lets see 10×0= You do the math.

    This approach they are discussing here will not produce long term sobriety. ” If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit
    entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount
    you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be
    suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will
    conquer.” pg 44, line3

    “If that be the case, you may be
    suffering from an illness which ONLY a spiritual experience will

    You are on here looking for alternative solutions to your problem. You know what the solution is. The Twelve Steps. And why haven’t you at least tried them? Could it be, “Why fix a problem if there is no problem” Do you seriously know if you are a real alcoholic? Think about that.

    There are two AA’s. There is the “program” (12 steps) and there is the fellowship. If you are not willing to go to any lengths to stay sober and surrender to the program of AA, not the fellowship, then you are not ready yet. Not to worry though, alcohol will eventually beat you into a state of reasonableness. If you need more info contact me on Facebook. I’m praying for each and everyone of you. ~ Mike

  • Mike Trotter

    Have patients, he’ll come around soon.

  • Mike Trotter

    See the post up top Deb. Get yourself someone who is experienced with the Twelve Steps and roll your sleeves up and go to work. You are in for a miraculous journey. Don’t let anyone tell you not to do them. At least give it a try. I have never heard anyone in my 25 years of sobriety ever say they picked up because they did the steps.

  • bede2live

    We are all electrons usually taking the path of least resistance which of course is alcohol…

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  • Augustina

    Ill pray for u love i know its hard i had 6 days sober and i relapsed yesterday so rite back at day 1 dnt give up stay strong and most of all have faith in our higher power whom witch is our great lord above good luck and god bless

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