Posts Tagged ‘suggestions for the first 30 days of recovery’

stressRecovery meetings are a big part of staying clean and sober because they get us out of our heads and out into the world and sometimes we just really need to be around people who are as bat-shit crazy as we are.

In case you are wondering what some of the signs might be for getting your ass to a meeting, here’s a few clues (feel free to add any):

  • Who knew the laughter of small children could be so irritating?
  • The dog’s incessant tail wagging is really pissing you off, why does it have to be so happy ALL the time?
  • You think you don’t need a meeting, what you need is an evening in watching TV.
  • You find yourself shouting obscenities at the cartoon octopus on TV – the one  on the commercial promoting household air fresheners – it just doesn’t make any sense!
  • You tell the Girl Scout Cookie seller to go shove the cookies where the…you get the idea.
  • You find the line in the ‘fast food’ restaurant isn’t fast enough and you take it out on the 16 year old serving the fries.
  • Taking recovery tips from Lindsay Lohan seems like a good idea.
  • When the check-out person at the grocery store tells you to have a nice day, you tell her to go f**k herself.
  • Someone cuts you off in traffic and you think it’s a good idea to  follow them to their house.
  • It’s been 4 hours and you’re still trying to come up with an interesting enough status for your Facebook page.
  • You’ve  listened to The Eagles’ Desperado 10 times today.
  • Watching Titanic just doesn’t make you laugh like it used too.
  • You’re on Twitter and there’s no time for meetings, you’re too busy twittering and tweaking (I mean tweeting).
  • What’s so cute about kittens anyway?

And last, but not least,

  • You find yourself writing a blog entry about going to a meeting instead of actually going to a meeting.


itchyscratchy2Unfortunately for this drunk, 90 days of sobriety usually signified both an achievement and the beginning of the end. I got quite a few 90 day chips in AA, it was what came after 90 days that was the problem. I’d start to feel better, mentally and physically and I’d start to get things back that I’d lost in the latest episode of screwing my life up. My job would be going good, my son would be spending more time with me or I’d decide to date again. In fact, when I think about it now, I realize that when I started thinking that I knew what was best for me, it was a sure sign that things were about to go to shit.  

When I’d first get sober, I’d eagerly go to meetings, get a Sponsor and start on the 12 Steps. I called my Sponsor every day, took time to read the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and developed a network of friends who were in the same boat as me.  But, as the weeks went by and things got better, my life improved and I found that I got busy, I went to less meetings and I lost momentum in my recovery program. I was working on the 4th Step and it was just too much fucking hard work to write all my resentments down, after all I had a job to go too, a son to look after and a boyfriend to keep, all this other stuff could wait. Besides, no one was making me do the 12 Steps, it was up to me and I’d decided I was well enough to make it on my own. I didn’t need all this tedious recovery crap anymore.

It’s amazing, how when I adopted this viewpoint my life came undone very quickly. You’d think I would learn from making this mistake one or two times but I went through getting 90 days sober four or five times before the penny finally dropped. Finally, I learned that my way wasn’t working and the last time this happened I decided that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED, no matter how great I was feeling at 90 days, I was going to continue working my recovery program.  

So, as the dreaded 90 day itch started to rear its ugly head, rather than succumb to what my disease was telling me, which was the usual, ‘recovery is boring, your all better now, there’s so much more to life than this, you don’t need this shit’,  – I  worked harder on my program, finished that ‘dreaded’ 4th Step and before I knew it I was way past another 90 days and still sober.

These days, if I continue to do what I’m doing and work on a program of recovery, I’m hopeful that I won’t have to do another 90 stretch again. In fact the only time I really think about those days is when I’m explaining to my Sponsee how I continually fucked up because I thought I could ‘handle it from here’. My Sponsee is at the ‘I’ll take it from here’ point and all I can do is point her in the right direction, tell her what worked and didn’t work for me and the rest is up to her. 


 devil-angel2Alcoholism and drug addiction are called cunning, baffling and powerful diseases mainly because they often trick our minds and get us to turn on  ourselves and sabotage our sobriety. The worst part is, it’s often very subtle and  we don’t notice these changes in our behavior or our thinking until it’s too late.  And by too late, I mean we’re already off to the races, we are no longer in  control and our disease is in the driver’s seat.                                 

Here are some of the signs that you might want to watch out for:                                                                                                                                                                           

  • You stop going to recovery meetings.  In early sobriety (at least the first year) it’s a good idea to do 90meetings in 90 days for the first three months and after that, at least 3-4 meetings a week. If you begin to think that you don’t need as many meetings – it’s your disease talking.
  • You start hanging out in bars with your old drinking buddies. If your friends want to meet you in a bar, tell them you’d rather meet in a coffee shop. If they are truly friends, then they will meet you there. If you decide it’s a good idea to meet them in a bar on a Friday night and drink soda while they pound drink after drink, then it’s your disease talking. (For more on this see People, Places and Things).
  • You start thinking that surely non-alcoholic beer or wine can’t hurt? Just think about this for a minute! I’ve often heard of alcoholics going this route before and what usually happens is once the alcohol hits their system, the body immediately craves more and they can’t stop. In fact, they’ll generally consume a 12 pack of near beer in a very short period of time before eventually moving onto the real stuff. There’s trace amounts of alcohol in these beverages, if you think that putting any amount of alcohol in your system is a good idea then it’s your disease talking.
  • You stop working the Twelve-Steps. Maybe you were working a Twelve-Step program of recovery but somehow decided that you don’t have to finish the Steps because it’s too much hard work. In my experience, when I thought I could do it alone and I stopped working on my Fourth Step, I started off feeling relieved that I didn’t have to do that shit anymore. The relief didn’t last long though because I increasingly became restless, irritable and discontent and then somehow I found myself at the liquor store. Do yourself a favor; see it through to the end, some things are worth the hard work and finishing the Steps was key to my long term sobriety and to many people I know.
  • You look for the differences in other alcoholics and addicts, not the similarities. When we think we are different from the addict who was on the streets, the alcoholic housewife who only drank at home or the teenager who hit bottom early in life, then our disease is talking. The circumstances of our decline into alcoholism and addiction may be different from others but the disease isn’t. Our disease will tell us we are different because it wants to keep us away from our peers.
  • You decide you can handle a new relationship as well as getting sober. Your disease wants to get laid so when the new relationship goes south (as they very often do in early sobriety) you’ll get drunk or high. More on dating in early recovery here

Obviously these are just some of the ways we can get off track, if you want to add any, please feel free to make a comment.

toolkit As a newcomer, I recall sitting in a recovery meeting and hearing someone say, “No matter what  happens, you don’t have to pick up a drink or drug today.”

 I remember thinking to myself ‘Why don’t you go and shove that golden nugget of wisdom up your ass.’ I  couldn’t understand how someone could say that, I was a total mess, physically, mentally, spritually and financially and the way I looked at it, my life couldn’t possibly suck anymore than it already did and if it got any worse there was no way I could not pick up a drink. This person was full of bullshit as far as I was concerned and obviously not a real alcoholic.

As with many of my opinions and observations in early recovery, I was proved wrong as I spoke with the person who said these words after the meeting. They told me a little bit about their drinking career, how far down they had gone and what happened. They told me when they came into recovery and the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous; they had been given a set of tools to use and suggestions from people who’d been where they were at. And now, when the going got rough, instead of picking up a drink or drug, they picked up their tools.

So, what were these tools? (I was thinking a hammer had to be one of them, that way I could bash my hands with it so I’d be physically unable to pick up the drink.) Again, my line of thinking proved to be a little skewed as this person went on to explain that the set of tools they were referring to were the Twelve-Steps of Recovery. Working on these Steps allowed them to live a life free from booze and drugs, but they didn’t stop with the Steps, they also had a Sponsor, a home group, went to regular recovery meetings, were developing a relationship with a Higher Power and also volunteered to do service work within the Twelve Step community.  All these things combined gave them a solid recovery foundation that was not easily shaken by the stresses of day to day life and of living clean and sober.

Up until this point, I had been staying sober using willpower, so I took this person’s advice and I got a sponsor, began working on the Twelve Steps and went to lots of meetings. I also volunteered to make coffee at a recovery group that I liked which later became my home group.  When things got rough in early recovery, I turned to these tools like my life depended on it (because it did) and miraculously on a day to day basis I didn’t pick up a drink. As I continue one day at a time in sobriety, I still have these tools and when I hear someone say that there’s no need to pick up a drink or drug today, I don’t respond angrily anymore, because I’ve got a glimpse of what they are talking about.

If you would like more information on Twelve-Step Recovery Groups, click here

breakfast As we fast approach the morning after the biggest party night of the year, I was thinking about the  one thing that I will certainly not miss and that is the massive hangover, complete waste of a day  throwing up and the ultimate feeling of self-loathing that came from another night on the booze.  As I have said before, it didn’t matter if it was New Year’s Eve or any day of the week, it was just  another night on the booze for this drunk and it never ended well.  

This year I’ll be taking my son downtown to watch the fireworks, sip hot chocolate, eat a great meal, see a movie and then  go to bed probably listening to the sound of people still partying. That’s ok though because I’m looking forward to sipping my coffee in the morning with a clear head, a healthy appetite and digging into a plate of bacon with fried eggs (a little runny), toast and whatever else I can manage before I go to the park and throw the frisbee with my son. These are the days that I cherish and now I get to remember them too, no more blackouts and broken promises.

What a difference sobriety makes. I never thought I’d say this but I really don’t miss being out there, in the thick of it and I definitely don’t miss those hangovers one bit.

Happy New Year!

winner3If you are new to sobriety and in particular the rooms of recovery (Twelve-Step Meetings), you might hear people suggesting that as a newcomer, you should try to ‘stick with the winners’ and watch ‘what winners do.’ When I was in early recovery, I didn’t know what they were talking about, after all I felt like a total loser and I wondered who these ‘winners’ were and if they were so great, why were they in recovery? (I had a lot to learn.)

It wasn’t after too long, that I started to notice people who were always at the AA Club and at certain meetings I went to. I’d see them before the meeting, making coffee or greeting people as they came in the door. I’d see them sitting at a table with the big book open across from another person and reading together. I’d see them after the meeting, going up to people and introducing themselves and handing out their phone number. I’d see them raising their hands when the chairperson asked who was available to sponsor. I’d see them offering rides to people and laughing and chatting away on the porch before and after meetings.

One of these people was a man named Mark. I had 30 days in recovery when I met him and he had 3 years. That night, he gave me my 30 day sobriety chip. I went up to him after the meeting and asked if I could tag along to another meeting I’d heard him talk about. Without hesitation he said yes and we went to the meeting where he introduced me to a lot of people (mostly women). He told me that I should get a sponsor and that he knew a woman who could work with me. He told me to stick with the women and watch out for the men who asked me for my phone number or to meet for coffee as they might want something other than friendship.

Over the next few months Mark gave me a 60 day chip and a 90 day chip and I did all the things he suggested and unfortunately some that he didn’t. When I started dating in early recovery he warned me to be careful and suggested that I wait until I’d at least completed the steps. He told me that he’d been through the steps a few times and if I just did the work, he was certain that I’d experience the miracle too. I halfheartedly worked the steps but wholeheartedly continued my romance as Mark gave me a hug and my one year chip.

Six days after I celebrated that one year sobriety anniversary, the romantic relationship ended and my sobriety ended with it. Mark gave me a hug and a 24 hour chip. He called and sent texts to wish me good morning and asked me how I was. He invited me to cook outs, pot lucks, and dinner with the group after the AA meetings. He took me along to do service work with him. At six months clean and sober, he asked me to chair a meeting. A few months later at Christmas, I took my son to visit Santa (who also happened to be Mark) at our local AA club. Santa waved me over and asked me if I’d tell the kid’s that he had to run outside for a minute to feed the reindeer (while he went to the restroom) after which he resumed his usual spot handing out gifts and being cheery.

He talked about his sponsees and his own sponsor and how much it meant to him to be able to work with other people. After I reached another one year of sobriety, he told me about a woman he knew who needed a sponsor and he thought we’d be a good fit. We started working together and I was lucky enough to give her her 30 day chip. Six months ago Mark presented me with my two year chip and of course, his customary hug. The moment was not lost on me as I remembered ALL the chips he had given me in the past and all he had done for me. I was so grateful to know this person and have him in my life.

Monday, November 17th, 2008 is Mark’s SEVEN year sobriety anniversary and I have had the honor of knowing him for four of those years. To me, Mark epitomizes ‘What Winners Do’. Congratulations dear friend, you are truly an inspiration.