Getting sober is not necessarily all that hard. A lot of alcoholics do it for a few days, weeks, even months before turning to the booze again. Those men and women who struggle with alcoholism and manage to stop drinking for a short time are only going to succeed if they have help, however, and a solid plan for continuing sobriety. No one can manage alone.
The Beginning of a Plan
Your first course of action is frequently to enter a rehab center in or near your local area. There you will find out why you drink and what it is doing to your body, marriage, and sense of self-worth. You will meet lots of other alcoholics, even listen to them share their experiences in group therapy. Finally, you will be ready to face the world outside of rehab, or will you?
Rehabilitation is only a success if you manage to resist the temptation to drink from graduation onwards. Many people end their stay at rehab by celebrating with a drink which leads to a bottle or a case before this individual is back where he started, only worse.
Now he is hindered from tackling sobriety by the fact that it did not work the first time. In his own eyes he is a failure, so why try? Meanwhile, any agreement he made with his boss or wife is finished: keeping his job and saving his marriage were contingent on getting and staying sober. Any reason to figure out recovery seems to be gone.
Finding One’s Self
This is where the addict is wrong. He always has value, even if he fails at rehab. There is always another chance to try again if a person wants to. He might not get back the job he lost or the wife who left him, but he can start fresh, healthy relationships full of a new sense of awareness that makes his life more fulfilling than before.
He can mentor other recovering addicts and establish realistic goals. To stay sober, an individual needs to know what he has to live for. Often he will gain meaning from what he has to offer in his small community or the larger one around him.
Creating a Team
Recovery is not a goal but a process. Each addict who comes through an alcohol rehab center has to understand that he could fall off the edge and start drinking again if all the circumstances were right. He might not realize how vulnerable he is, but the people who care about him do.
Who are the members of this team?
They include a spouse, children, parents, friends, siblings, close relatives, and colleagues. If a person has completed rehab and entered AA, his team extends to these new connections he has made. What are these people’s respective roles in his life?
Co-dependents, typically close relatives, suffer when their alcoholic loved one battles addiction, so they have to establish boundaries for themselves and the addict in their lives. Secretive behavior will lead to suspicion and perhaps ugly consequences.
They will not tolerate certain behaviors because they are unsafe, such as drunk driving. Verbal or physical abuse of any kind will not be tolerated. The safety of children is of paramount importance in this kind of situation. These guidelines help motivate recovery.
Co-dependents are semi-objective insiders. They see when a person is starting to crave booze again, although it can be hard to say anything to that individual. In fact, how clearly they see this person is hard to say. When you love someone, he always looks better to you than he does to someone who is fully objective.
This is where members of an AA group are helpful. They mentor one another, are available in times of crisis, and also keep one another accountable. It is a condition of the group that participants are in a state of active recovery during sessions. It is okay to stumble and drink, then put the bottle away and start again. What a recovering addict requires is that honest but loving voice which tells him he needs help before he sees it for himself.
Another noteworthy group is a person’s church congregation. It is true that, like rehab, not all churches effectively show the love they preach. Not all rehab clinics successfully address motivations and causes for addiction.
Still, when you find a good church (or rehab) your chances of staying sober go way up. This is because a church congregation is a family, a big one, full of people who want to emulate Jesus. To this end they are willing to speak truth to those around them, but in love.
When this happens, people listen. When an alcoholic is sliding back into his drinking ways, his fellow congregants see the change and tell him so. They support this person with money if he needs it to pay for rehab. Recovering addicts within the group offer to mentor their struggling comrade.