Helping an Alcoholic with Stuck Thinking

Helping an Alcoholic with Stuck Thinking


There is this idea that is prevalent in mainstream recovery circles, and I think it is a potentially dangerous one. People say things like:

…if I just keep doing what I need to do to stay sober, then I’ll be alright.

Or they might say:

I stayed sober for 3 years in the past….so I know what I need to do. I just need to get back to that routine and I’ll be fine.

These ideas imply that the recovering addict knows what they need to do to stay sober, and that it is just a matter of doing it. It is my belief that this type of thinking is dangerous, because it keeps people stuck at what I’ll call “stage one recovery.”

- Approved Treatment Center -


Stage one recovery is the initial stage in early recovery where you are first adjusting to a sober life. For me, stage one recovery took place over the course of several months while I lived in long term treatment.

My point here is that if I were to relapse, then I might say that “I know what I need to do. I need to get back to long term treatment because that is what worked for me before.”

But there is a flaw in that logic. Long term treatment is only half of the equation in my case. It only got me through stage one recovery. But if I happened to relapse, then stage 2 recovery is where the problem is.

And this is the logical flaw in people’s thinking. They believe that stage one recovery holds the key to their sobriety, when in fact, the focus should be on what they did after they transitioned into long term recovery.

What you did at 30 days clean and sober is not going to keep working at 3 years sober. We have to change and evolve and grow in order to maintain sobriety. Stagnation is the enemy. Complacency can kill you with this disease.

Action items – what you can do:

1) Look at what got you clean and sober – and realize that this is not your long term solution.

2) Challenge yourself to grow holistically – look to all areas of your life to find avenues of growth. Challenge yourself physically, mentally emotionally, and so on. Join a gym, change your diet, strive for emotional balance, go back to college, etc. Holistic growth holds the key to long term sobriety.

So if you are stuck in your life or in your thinking then my suggestion to you is to try to grow in some way, push yourself for personal growth and get out of your comfort zone a bit. If you are bored in your life then that is a signal that you are not pushing yourself enough. If you are never scared or nervous then that is another signal that you are not pushing yourself hard enough also.


- Approved Treatment Center -call-to-learn-about