The key to clean and sober living is actually a bit of a mystery to most addicts in early recovery. The reason for this is simple: they have been conditioned in early recovery to think that the ultimate answer in recovery is massive action. They are told over and over again that the key is that they have to want this thing more than anything in the whole world, that they have to put their entire heart into recovery, and that they have to go to meetings, meetings, meetings. Action is the key.
And of course, this is true. The newcomer in recovery had better get busy. Failing to take massive amounts of positive action will result in certain relapse. There is no way around this. Early recovery demands drastic measures. It demands intensity. You cannot get clean and sober by just sitting around and wishing things were different. We tried that while we were still hooked on drugs and it did nothing for us. The key is to get moving.
So what, then, is the problem? The problem is that as the newcomer transitions into long term sober living, the emphasis changes from that of action to one of balance and personal growth. Many people use the excuse of acceptance in early recovery in order to justify their laziness. This is a mistake because what they really need in early recovery is to error on the side of taking too much action rather than too little.
But as we progress in recovery, this shifts a bit. Massive action becomes less important because we start to learn precisely what works for us and what does not. We no longer have to thrash about looking for solutions and trying new things as much. Yes, we can still learn, and we can still grow, but it becomes a bit more calculated–a bit more balanced. If you have 5 years clean and sober then you do not need to be going to 10 meetings a week. If you are then you might have missed the boat (or you might be genuinely giving back, that is fine too). But if you are depending on massive action at 5 years sober then you have not grown as you should in recovery. Recovery is about living, not about creating a new dependency for yourself.
The key in long term clean and sober living is the push for holistic growth. We want to keep growing in recovery but we should do it in various areas of our lives.