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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 play places.
You should get a sponsor in AA or a related program such as Celebrate 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 alcoholics.

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.

 


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