Q: I am
a recovering alcoholic, but struggling with temptation. Can
you help me?
A: The ongoing temptation to drink (or engage in any
addictive behavior) is both a part of the disease, and of
living in the real world. My first recovery sponsor told me
early on in my sobriety: "Jim, I have bad news for you.
The bars and liquor stores have all decided to remain open,
despite your getting sober." What he meant was, the world
goes on, and I must of course go on within it. That is why
it's so important for me to immerse myself in a fellowship
of recovering people, especially early in sobriety. If I continue
hanging out around drinkers and around drinking places, I
am simply tempting my disease. It's dangerous, and stupid,
if sobriety is truly my number one concern. Now, this isn't
easy. I had dear friends who weren't alcoholic but who drank,
and I felt terribly alone not being with them. So, I found
new friends, people who just like me were trying one day at
a time to stay clean.
One of the most powerful disease mechanisms inherent in alcoholism
is the delusional thinking it produces. For instance, addicts
will truly believe that once we stop drinking, we will not
be able to have "fun" anymore. We live in a sort
of fantasy existence, in which we falsely believe that everyone
who is having any fun or excitement is also drinking. We have
never learned how to really enjoy ourselves without getting
high. But this is a ridiculous concept, and if we stay sober
long enough, the delusion begins to fade. Still, it's a powerful
deterrent to sobriety. And so, again, I must hang out with
sober people. The big book of AA says we must recoil from
alcohol as if from a hot flame. Early in sobriety, I found
this to be very true. In time, we will be able to go into
drinking places fearlessly. But not for a while.
You CANNOT expect to remain sober for any length of time if
you continue to play with old playmates and hang out in old
get a sponsor in AA or a
related program such as
Recovery who understands.
Also: Without meaning any disrespect whatsoever, I will say
that, in my own experience, simply going to church and praying,
etc. was not particularly effective regarding the early months
of my sobriety. Now, with a number of years of sobriety under
my belt, I am active in church, and indeed find it an essential
part of my life and spiritual journey. But first, I needed
to be around other recovering people. I needed to work the
12 steps with a sponsor. I must avoid old people places and
things. I must do what the book says: I must be willing to
go to any length to get and stay sober. Will this involve
difficult decisions? Yes. Will it mean avoiding some friends,
and some events? Yes. Will it mean forever being bored and
ostracized from everyone who drinks alcohol? No. But all in
good time, and always with the covering of Christ Jesus and
the strength that lives within the fellowship of recovering
I hope this helps. The challenge really belongs to you, and
no one else. Only you can make these choices, and face the
consequences of those choices. But with help, you can do it.
I am living proof.