An amazing speaker in Alcoholics Anonymous often says, "People come into the rooms for one of two reasons: for relief or for recovery." I agree with his statement completely, and think that some may come in with a combination of the two, whether or not they are aware of it. When someone comes in to the rooms looking for recovery, they are looking for a new way of life, they are sick of the way they behave, and they are hoping to find an answer. When people come into the rooms looking for relief, it usually is in relation to a judge, a job, a family member, or a loved one. Many people find Twelve Step meetings because of these reasons, as I myself did.
Neither relief nor recovery is a better reason to come into the rooms. My personal experience and my experience observing my fellows is that the desire for relief can only carry us for so long. Eventually, we must have a craving for recovery if we are to maintain long-term sobriety, and a good quality of life. It is a tough decision to make, but we must if we are to stay sober.
For me, I came into the rooms after being arrested with three violent felonies. My attempt to get sober was a preemptive strike against the prosecuting attorney. I thought if I could go to court and show I was an active part of a 12 Step group, the judge would be more lenient.
When I first was getting sober, I told my sponsor all about my legal issues, and how I was SOOOO unique from everyone else. He told me that I needed to put all my problems on a shelf, work the Twelve Steps, focus on myself, and we could go back to that shelf when we were done and take my issues down one by one. I had a hard time swallowing this idea, but I followed instruction. By the time we got back to the shelf, most of my problems were gone.
In the 90 days it took me to go through the steps with my sponsor, I slowly grew to want recovery for myself. Although my intention at first was to get the court off my back, I began to want recovery for myself. I noticed my life turning around, and the thinking beginning to improve. Of course, I still had ups and downs, and the downs were hard to deal with. However, I soon had a deep conviction that I and my life were better off sober.
Relief Doesn't Last
From what I have experienced trying to get sober before, as well as seeing my fellows struggle, relief will not keep us sober forever. Working at a sober living, I see the majority of clients struggle with being sober in order to gain relief from someone else. Many of the young men are sober for their parents, a few for the courts, and a couple for their wives/children.
One thing I try to always tell my sponsees and the clients here is that if my life was not hands down better today now that I am sober, I would still be using. When I realized that early in my sobriety, my attitude completely changed. The reality is that although the need for relief is one hell of a motivator getting us INTO the rooms, it is the need for personal recovery that makes us STAY in the rooms.
We must want this for ourselves. Yes, I hurt others in my addiction; physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. I knew I did not want to cause that level of pain any longer. But I truly believe that I am only sober today because I was able to make that distinction that I wanted to be sober for myself. It's not easy, but we must take each step carefully, and remember our goal: to spiritually progress.
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