We Only Have to Change One Thing: Everything!
“If I stop drinking and using drugs, life will be dull and boring.”
“Without drinking, I will have nothing to do at parties.”
“What will happen to me if I stop getting high? I won’t know what to do…”
These are all valid concerns for anyone considering putting down drugs and or alcohol. Just because we stop getting high and or drinking, doesn’t mean that life has to stop, too. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous provide the tools we need to stop using, lose the desire to drink or drug and find a new way to live. The tools are the 12 Steps which are a design for living.
It is suggested that we go to 90 meeting in 90 days when first getting clean and sober. Studies have shown it can take up to 90 days to start a new habit. We’re told when we get to AA or NA that we only have to change one thing: EVERYTHING! We start that change by going to meetings. We come early to help set up and leave late to help put things away. We volunteer to do the readings at the beginning of the meeting, so people can get to know us. These people become our sponsor and our friends and most importantly, our support group.
Maybe for the first time in our lives, people want to hang out with us, not because of our stash or because we’re buying rounds of drinks, but because they like us. They believe in us and want to support us in our recovery. We go to the beach, without a 12-pack in the cooler. We go to the movies, without a lingering buzz. We go bowling with an entire group and everyone’s clean and sober.
We learn how to do things we once did only if we were high or drunk. We can go to dinner and order sparkling water instead of sparkling wine, and enjoy our meal and the conversation. There are activities planned by AA and NA members, solely for the purpose of doing things clean and sober. We have conventions, boat trips, campouts, game nights, dances, banquets and countless other activities that are actually fun!
It may be weird dancing for the first time without a little liquid courage. We may feel self-conscious, like everyone’s watching us. They’re not. They’re too busy having a good time to pay attention to our awkward dance moves. Eventually, we learn to relax, and just enjoy ourselves, clean and sober!
Our new recovery family will help us to celebrate our first birthday, that we can actually remember because we weren’t drunk! We stay clean, day by day, week by week, month by month, and eventually, year by year. By that time, we’ve celebrated all of the holidays without a drink or drug. We can go to Aunt Helen’s for Thanksgiving Dinner and not have the munchies and eat everything in sight. We can wake up Christmas morning with our family and watch our kids unwrap presents and not be hung over!
We ring in the New Year without champagne or a DUI. We can make commitments and keep them today. We go to weddings without being belligerent drunks. We celebrate our recovery anniversary with our sponsorship family and home group members. We go to functions and parties and only sodas and coffee get spilled, no one falls down drunk, no one gets kicked out for fighting.
Maybe we can start a new hobby that was difficult before because we were too high. We can learn to paint or draw. We can learn to play guitar without the shakes. We can take up a sport like kayaking or tennis and actually show up early in the morning (or at least before noon)! The possibilities are endless, as long as we’re clean and sober. We are only limited by our imagination since we don’t have the handicap of having to keep a drink steady or drugs hidden. What a glorious feeling it is to take a nice drive without having to look in the rearview mirror every five seconds!
The freedom recovery brings are infinite. We no longer have to search for the ways and means to get our next fix or drink. We are no longer bound by what we once thought was a way of life. We have found a wonderful new way to live, without the use of drugs or alcohol that is happy, joyous and free, only because we’re clean and sober. The best part is, we have a choice today to live the kind of life we’ve always dreamed of, but was forever out of reach. Each day brings a new reason to stay clean and sober, because we now enjoy life without the use of drugs and alcohol.