We Only Have to Change One Thing
When we come to recovery for the first time, we’re told we only have to change one thing: Everything! But just like it says in the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, How It Works, “This sounds like a big order and we can’t do it all at once, we didn’t become addicted in one day, so remember, easy does it.” And we say, “But do it!” We’re told, the person we are today will use again, so change must happen in order for us to stay clean and sober.
Look where we’ve ended up! We are at meeting instead of a bar on a Friday night. Whoever would have thought this would happen? It is time to put away our old ways of thinking and doing and try something different, otherwise we are guaranteed more pain, suffering and misery. So where do we start?
- Put the drink and or drugs, DOWN! We can start our recovery while still using, but there’s no way to continue. We must surrender to the program completely in order to recover.
- Change people. This isn’t always easy, especially if we work in an environment, like a restaurant that promotes a using lifestyle. Many alcoholics can and do have successful careers in the hospitality industry, but it is the exception, not the norm. Eventually, our new way of life makes it difficult to be around others that are living a life that is not in agreement with our new-found spiritual principles. Once we get a home-group and start going to meetings regularly, the people we see at meetings become our new friends.
- Change places. There is an old saying, “If you hang around the barbershop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut.” Why tempt yourself? Why hang out in bars or in those places we use to think as fun? In many recovering communities there are activities planned all the time, almost every weekend. Our new friends are always up to doing something fun, either the movies or the beach or even bowling. There really is fun in recovery that does not center around a beer keg.
- Change things. This change may not be clear. Things can be our habits, like getting high every morning before work. Maybe we sit and meditate instead or take a longer shower, or even go for a walk before getting ready for work. If there was something that use to trigger us, it is important to try and avoid these situations. For instance, going to a restaurant and ordering a bottle of wine. Perhaps we can order sparkling water instead, and maybe even bring a recovering friend or two with us. Most importantly, we don’t have to stay if we’re not feeling comfortable. Always have a plan “B” (like going to a meeting) when accepting invitations where there will partying going on.
- Address those things we’ve been ignoring, like our health. Visit the dentist and be sure to tell them that you’re in recovery and to prescribe only non-narcotic medications.
- We look for the good and the positive in everything around us. We learn to have an “attitude of gratitude.” Remember, “A grateful addict will never use.” We even start to see the good in ourselves and begin liking ourselves a little more each day.
- Get a sponsor and work the 12 steps. This is where the real healing begins. We start to learn about ourselves, our disease and how to work a personal program of recovery. We are given the tools we need to live life without the use of drugs or alcohol.
- Pray. In the morning, we ask God, “Please keep us clean and sober today.” At night we pray, “Thank you God, for keeping us clean and sober today.” Even during the day, when things don’t seem to be going our way, we can say the Serenity Pray.
- Read the literature. The AA and NA Literature was written by its members. They didn’t hire authors to tell their stories. The formed committees and got together to write The Big Book and the NA Basic Text, as well as the pamphlets and even the readings we recite at the beginning of meetings. These were all written by addicts and alcoholics, for addicts and alcoholics.
- Journal. Or at least write a little bit each day about your day. Writing has a very therapeutic value, since it accesses a part of the brain that does not get to express itself by just talking. We can sit down each day and reflect upon our day and see how we’ve grown. The results are always amazing! We learn things about ourselves that may have been hidden or covered up due to our drug and alcohol abuse.
- Exercise. Now that we’re not pumping our bodies full of chemicals and alcohol, we can actually breathe again! That nice morning walk can turn into a regular workout or even a daily jog. We begin to care about our bodies, maybe for the first time in a long time.
- Nutrition. The stem-fast plan left us underweight and malnourished. Alcohol drains our body of nutrients and acts as a diuretic, flushing everything from our systems, both good and bad. We can start by taking vitamins. Or even eating breakfast every day and having regular meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. We may even learn to try new foods. We can actually taste the food we’re eating! We can plan our meals to make them even more enjoy
These are just a few things that we can learn to change slowly, by a little. We have to remember that change is detrimental to our recovery, because if we fail to change then we may relapse and die.