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On not Being able to Drink Successfully


May 2018

A good friend of mine and I had a discussion last night about how you can tell who will make it in sobriety and who won’t.  This is a favorite topic of mine as I was voted the least likely to stay sober in my treatment center class.  I’m one of the few who isn’t only sober and successful, I’m not dead.  Such is normally the case – the one’s who you think don’t have a chance usually do well.  Those you think have a decent chance often end up feeding worms.

There are a few things that separate the winners from the dead or dying:

  1.  In my case, I made a decision, two weeks into treatment, that I would not only give sobriety a chance but I’d give it everything I had.  We often say in recovery circles, as long as I give sobriety half the effort I put into drinking, I can’t lose.  There’s a lot of truth to that simple statement.
  2. That decision has to be a full time commitment.  Nothing, and I mean nothing comes before my sobriety.   There is a simple reason for this; without my sobriety, there is nothing else.  There’s no wife, no relationship with my kids, no job, no house, car or pet… Some will throw in, “except God” but that’s unnecessary.  It goes without saying for those of us who believe in a Higher Power.
  3. The decision doesn’t mean I’m 100% on-board at all times.  Sometimes I didn’t want to drink just 51%… the key is that I don’t ever let it get to 49%-51%.
  4. I had to pick up the phone.  My ego screwed with me bad when it came to sobering up.  I had a hard time asking for help from my new sober friends so I mistakenly thought I should be able to go it alone, a lot like how I drank.  Ignorance isn’t always bliss.  Once I popped my head out of my ass and started calling on those who offered their help, my life got a lot better and happier.
  5. Above all else, the honesty displayed in item 4 is indispensable.  I had to stop looking outside me for something to blame for my predicament and start focusing on my biggest problem:  Me.
  6. Finally, when in doubt, reverse the order and work backwards.  Honesty, ask for help, 51% to 49%, remember the decision…

Sobriety is the only path to a happy life for me.  I am a pickle, and once a pickle you never get to go back to being a cucumber.  I accept who I am and embrace what I have to do to remain happy.  There is no scenario where I am drinking and happy.  Those two are incompatible and as long as I remember that, I’ve got a chance.


  1. Interesting! First, congratulations on your sobriety. Second, I’ve never met a recovering alcoholic who still drank at all. Does that make it easier? The ones I know won’t touch it for anything, because they fear a relapse.

  2. Patunia says:

    Glad you aren’t feeding worms!!!!

  3. I like these posts as it gives me an insight into that circle, one I would otherwise not know much about. Thanks for writing.

    And yes, being “not dead” is always a good start!

  4. Excellent post brother. Love the “once a pickle” analogy. Who would have ever thought being sober and alive is a better alternative than our previous lifestyle? Glad we both are continuing to choose sobriety and life each day. It works if you work it. 😉

  5. capejohn says:

    The key to success in most things is group support. One of the key factors for example is we are not giving something up forever. We only have to quit till the next meeting. It’s a process of learning how to stay quit when that little guy on your shoulder say’s, “just one won’t hurt”. One day, when it happens, we just brush him away and he seldom returns. When he does, we have the power not to give in. Never again.

  6. sophie12hours says:

    I love hearing about all the various things that have worked for various people in getting sober and sustaining their recovery. It’s so important in my view to humbly accept no size fits all. I know many people who accredit AA for being alive today – that is beautiful. Many others have found sobriety in different ways. Doesn’t matter though how we get there, does it? As for the 12 step program, I actually think everyone should do it in terms of the basic idea (identify what’s wrong and your part in it, make changes and amends, live accordingly and be kind and helpful), addict or otherwise, and again with an open mind and doing it the way that works for each person. In the end though, I suppose it really doesn’t matter how we get sober – be it by following AA to the letter or doing cartwheels around the house three times each morning. I just love hearing each story and in each one there is at least a little kernel that speaks to me. All the best, Sophie x

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks, Sophie. I love your optimism. On the cartwheel theory, though; say you do your cartwheels in the am but you’re still hit with an uncontrollable urge to drink… then what? I’m also deeply against the marijuana maintenance program as it’s a sham… Other than that, a lifestyle change that fixes the root cause of the addiction, I’m all for those, in most forms. 😉

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