This famous line from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states that “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.”
The key word there is thoroughly. It is, in fact, almost the entire secret of sobriety, all by itself. Be thorough and you will recover. Put forth the ultimate effort and you will succeed. I am convinced that the statement from How it Works is very accurate. Anyone who puts in a 100 percent effort into a 12 step program is going to get great results. The question is, are you actually putting forth your best effort?
Those who relapse can back this statement up as well. Ask those who ended up drinking again if they were putting forth their best effort at working the program, and they will inevitably tell you that they were not. They will always fault themselves for their relapse, because they know that it was ultimately their responsibility. The program did not fail them….they failed the program.
The same principle holds true for any recovery program, including 12 step alternatives. Anyone who gives it their all is going to do well. Those who slack off are liable to relapse. Any abstinence-based program will produce good results if you follow it. Don’t drink, push yourself to grow as a person, and your life will get better. There is no magic there. Just hard work.
Of course, most programs of recovery seek to go beyond abstinence and provide a design for living. This becomes important for long term sobriety. It is not enough to string together a few weeks of sobriety because we have to learn a new way to live if we are to stay sober over the long haul. Complacency is really our only enemy, in the end. But what exactly is the “design for living?” How are we to live in long term recovery so as not to revert to our old ways?
My solution has been to seek to create in my life. This has always been the solution for me as it is all about action. I can look back and see how my success in recovery was always fueled by creation. It was always fueled when I was driven to take action, to make change in my life. What can I create? What can I do that is positive today? What actions can I take today that will have a positive impact?
How can I seek to grow?
Take a look at the “winners” in recovery. It doesn’t matter what program they are in or whether they follow a program at all. See if they are creating in their life. See if they are action oriented people with positive things happening in their lives. See if they are pushing themselves to reach goals and explore new things. If you can’t see these attributes then you’re probably not looking hard enough. The winners in long term recovery are always creating.
If you are working a 12 step program then that is great, as long as you are pushing yourself to really grow in it. That is the secret to success, not the program itself. Creation becomes your new endorphin rush. Reaching out and helping others becomes a part of how we help ourselves. And thus we can even start creating recovery together (if that is your intention). If you are stuck as to how to “create,” then focus on helping others in recovery…that is the ultimate shortcut. Of course there are other ways to create as well, but that method is particularly powerful.
Once again: the program is not your salvation. Creation is.
We can say it another way too:
It is not which recovery program you use, but in how you work it.