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Recovery from Addiction: How Bad Do You Want It?


Bluntly put, sobriety isn’t enough. Sober up a drunken horse thief, what do you have?

A horse thief.

My sponsor helped sober up a drunken loser, but I wanted more than sober. I wanted freedom. I wanted to recover from alcoholism.

Wouldn’t you want the package deal, complete with the reverse country song where you get the pickup truck, the house, your dog, wife, and kids back? I’d have just settled for “happy”, but the package deal sounded pretty good, too.

I love nothing more than to listen to people new to recovery tell me about how they don’t “like” this aspect of recovery or that. I mean really, why work all of the steps? They’re probably not all necessary, anyway. They’re only suggestions. Better, having been sober for all of twenty days, you know that you don’t need all of that hooey anyway, right? Why bother with an inventory or making amends? Amends are so 1900’s, anyway? Isn’t the whole “Higher Power” thing a little old?

When I run into this person, I just say, OKAY, smile and nod and watch them struggle and relapse. Over and over again. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him think.

You couldn’t tell me anything until I was ready to listen. Maybe the next time they’ll be ready to do whatever it takes to recover. Or maybe they’ll die before they get the chance. Or worse, maybe they’ll hurt someone else and end up locked away. The life of an addict sucks that way, but it usually sucks a lot worse for the innocent bystander.

Maybe there’s a simpler way?

I can remember like it was yesterday… decades ago – I may have had seven months, maybe eight. My new sponsor and I were talking one night after a meeting. Out of the blue he says, “Hey, when you park your car, do you pull into a spot nose first or do you back in?”

I responded that I pull in nose first.

He said, “Starting tomorrow, I want you to back into every parking spot you can for the next month. I’ll tell you why at the end of the month.”

I looked at him like he was bat-shit crazy, but I shrugged my shoulders and said, “OKAY”. And for the next month after that night, to the day, I backed into every parking space I could. And at the end of that month I asked him why.

He said, “I wanted to see how willing you were to do whatever it takes to stay sober because if you weren’t willing to do something as simple as back a car into a parking space, you’d never get through the hard parts of fixing the wreckage of your past.”

Guess who made it through the tough parts of fixing the wreckage of his past? Guess who then went on to struggle through building a life for himself, getting to a point he’s so happy he can hardly believe it some days? He’s got two thumbs and looks like this guy.

So go ahead, you know best anyway, right? Skip the parts you don’t like and muddle through the parts you don’t mind half-heartedly. I’m sure everything will work out fine anyway. You probably know better than those crazy old farts who wrote the Big Book anyway.

Good luck with that.

I don’t blame anyone for trying to do it their way. Even better for those who find happiness. I wasn’t smart enough, or maybe honest enough, to figure it out on my own. Whatever it was, I needed some structure and help… a path to walk.

Having tried that line myself and failed, maybe I can save a noob a few decades of failure and angst. Just do what it says in the f’in’ book. Get a decade or two under your belt and get yourself happy. Then decide what works and what doesn’t. At least if you get to that point, if you find you were wrong, you can go back to what worked.

That’s the easiest, softest way I know. At least the easiest, softest way I know that actually works.

Based on real evidence, too. Not the “it’s evidence because we tell you it’s evidence” kind of evidence.

In fact, and I’ve never done this so I could be entirely wrong (I doubt it, but it’s possible), next time someone says “evidence based recovery”, ask them to see the evidence. I will be doing that from now on because I want to see the saucer eyes.

Meh, knowing my luck, I’ll run into the one person who is prepared for that. Chuckle.


  1. Eliza says:

    Your last line made me laugh.
    Recovery is very different to sobriety. I know that the main reason I stopped going to a groups meetings was because every one I went to I didn’t see recovery. I finally met one person who lived recovery and went for a few weeks back to that meeting but she wasn’t there (in reality it’s about areas, and meetings etc). The people who live with true recovery are the most gorgeous people…
    Love, light and glitter

    • bgddyjim says:

      And seeking those people out isn’t easy, but they’re out there, Eliza. We are out there.

      • Eliza says:

        I know. I’ve a gorgeous friend in the US. I’ve been doing 2 way prayer with someone and her unasked for advice bothered me. I realised that her writings reflect an inner calm like my friend that she doesn’t live with. She’s just a human being :). Some people really make you smile any time you speak to them, just through being themselves…

  2. Bryan B says:

    I have had a few “softer ways” sponsees that make it for a while, trying to negotiate a different plan. A few have been stubborn enough to work the optional 6 tenets program from the Oxford group. It was a lot easier to sponsor before we could Google the crap out of things. I had a t-shirt printed that said, “I don’t use google, I use the Big Book.” The option of a 6 step process was appealing. I had to make amends for the deception. If I work these tenets, it is still all AA’s steps. Lol.

    The Six Steps of The Oxford Group

    A Complete deflation.

    Dependence on God.

    A Moral inventory.



    Continued work with others in need.

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