What is the secret to successful sobriety? According to my friend Bill over at Addiction Recovery Basics, the secret is not drinking.
Pretty profound, huh? But of course he is right. On the other hand, is this really useful for someone who struggles with alcoholism?
For me, the problem wasn’t stopping. I could stop drinking all the time. In fact, I stopped quite often, for various reasons. The problem was staying stopped. That was my big problem, and that was what defined my addiction. I could not leave it alone.
My solution had to go beyond simply “not drinking.” I had to do more in order to find recovery. A lot more.
So when we examine those who are living a successful life in recovery, what are the common characteristics that we see among those people? Is it just that they are abstaining from drugs and alcohol? Or can we learn something more from studying those who are making it in recovery?
Recovery is complex. How many things do you have to do in order to recover? Quite a few. It’s all about action. Continuous action, no less. You have to keep doing stuff in order to maintain sobriety. People want to simplify it so badly, but in fact, recovery is complex and ever-changing. It is not like some separate area of your life that you work on occasionally. Recovery is your life.
So what are the things that we find in successful recovery? What are the common characteristics among those who have stayed clean and sober over the long haul?
1) They focus on learning – and thus growth as well. They stay open to new ideas about how to live better.
2) They find a way to give back – and help others to recover. It becomes a part of their life.
3) They have built up healthy self esteem. It is not a hollow or false pride in themselves but genuine self esteem. They feel good about their life and their actions.
4) They have found balance in their life. This speaks to the holistic approach. They are not focused too heavily on any one area. They are not extremists.
Now these are not the outcomes of successful recovery but instead they are the causes of ongoing success. Therefore, if you want to replicate the success we see in others you should:
1) Focus on learning
2) Help others in recovery
3) Build your self esteem
4) Seek balance
If these things work for everyone else in recovery then they can surely work for you too…..