Whenever I have someone new in recovery approach me for some advice or with a question, my response usually ends up at the same place, making connections with other sober individuals. The power of one sober alcoholic/addict helping another is unparalleled and it’s the reason we have large fellowships that keep millions of people clean and sober.
I give this advice especially to those that are still in treatment and are new to recovery completely. They may have a hard time understanding the 12 steps and a higher power; but asking a person who has been where you’ve been and how they got out of it just logically makes sense.
To put it simply, you are who you surround yourself with in recovery. This applies when you are new in recovery and this applies when you are well established in your recovery.
The Pain of Isolation
In my personal experience and from those who I have spoken to, a very common mistake made when trying to get and stay sober is trying to do it yourself. I remember when I would make those attempts, I knew what I shouldn’t do and that picking up drugs again would mean major trouble.
I felt the knowledge I had gained from treatment and the therapy I had done there as well was enough for me to get sober on my own. The end result would be me isolating in my room on my phone or computer and just existing. Man, it was miserable. I would usually last a week before my thinking mind convinced me that getting high was a good idea.
This is a point I try to drill into anyone’s head that will listen to me; self-reliance will always fail the addict and alcoholic. No matter how much you know or how good your intentions are, if you solely rely on your own mind, it will convince you relapse is a good idea at some point. For some people, it only takes a few weeks; for others, it can be months and years.
That is because addiction centers in the mind; it will always be in the mind. When we are self-reliant, enough stress, worry, or anger will inevitably convince us to feel better by taking a drink or drug. We are a ticking time bomb.
Finding Your Crew!
A significant turning point in my attempt for long term recovery was when I really began to make the effort to find other sober men who had time and who I could rely on for guidance. I hit a point where I did not trust myself about anything and I was positive I did not know what I was doing.
As soon as the urgency and true effort was there, I began to build a phenomenal support network. I couldn’t believe how simple it was. I went to a men’s meeting and a beginner’s meeting and shared what I was looking for. Soon after the meeting, I met a few men around my age, and before I knew if they introduced me to others and my network grew quickly.
I remember asking my friend Scott why he and his group accepted me so quickly, and he simply said that’s what others did for him and he told me to pass it on someday.
Put yourself out there, introduce yourself to others and share if you need more support. Most of the time, the person approaching the newcomer or person asking for help is working a solid program of recovery. That is what you want, to surround yourself with people who are doing the right thing.
What is the ‘right thing’?
- Living with honesty and integrity
- Prioritizing recovery over everything
- Helping others
- Being inclusive, never exclusive
- Genuinely working on becoming a better version of themselves
There are groups of men and women out there that possess all of this, do a little digging, and you will find them. They lean on each other and rely on each other. Each one holds the others accountable. They also want nothing more than a person who is desperately seeking what they have been able to maintain.
Just after a couple of weeks of hanging around this new crew of men that I met, I naturally found myself wanting to take recovery more seriously than ever. The people I had met would have fun and joke around, but they were serious when it was time to be serious.
I could sense the genuine effort from all of them, and it made me double down on my effort; for the first time in my life, I was truly inspired to change my life and do whatever it would take to get and stay sober.
That is exactly what happened; my first year sober was filled with incredible growth, change, purpose and fulfillment. As someone who had relapsed so many times before, it was honestly the greatest year of my life. Going from a legitimately hopeless mess to a sober member of society with integrity almost felt like a dream.
Had I not reached out and found a strong group of men that I could get in the middle of, I don’t think I’d be here with multiple years sober today. To be honest, I’m positive I wouldn’t be here.
We cannot do this alone; if you are struggling without support, find people in recovery who are doing the right thing. I promise you, if they are doing the right things in recovery, they will welcome you with open arms.