sponsors

No Holiday Secrets

Relapse is a symptom of addiction, just as much as the craving, obsession and withdrawal.  Most addicts relapse one or more times.  That isn't to imply that it's a good idea, but it is a fact.  (This may seem like an odd subject for Thanksgiving Day, but bear with me here.)

Holidays provide two things that are dangerous for addicts: plenty of different kinds of stress, and ample opportunities both to think about using and to actually do so.  Some of us are going to start some additional research over the next day or so.  Some of us have already started.  Those who do will discover that it's not working any better this time than it did before.  Most will find that things are even worse.  Some will die.  Some will make it back into the rooms of recovery.

It is vital that those who make it back share about it — at meetings, after the meeting, and especially with their sponsors.  (If you don't have a sponsor, perhaps you might take your relapse as a sign that you need one, eh?)  There's a saying that we're as sick as our secrets.  It's true.  Secrets lead to lies, and they lead to more secrets, and the first thing we know we're so tangled up and emotionally exhausted that a drink or other drug seems like the only way out.  Once again.

So no holiday secrets.  They lead to the wrong sorts of celebrations for us — and sometimes for our survivors.

Home Groups, Sponsors, Reservations, and Families That Use

This time we’re combining four questions that don’t require long answers into one post.

How soon should I find a home group?

You need to find a group where you feel reasonably at home.  This may change over time, but you need to look for one where you aren't totally uncomfortable.  Don't look for perfection, because it doesn't exist.  Groups are made up of people — all kinds of people.  Again, reasonable comfort is the key.

There’s no set limit.  Generally, it is suggested that we spend a few meetings in each of several groups, then stick with the one that feels best for a while.  When we’ve made that much of a commitment, making a home group decision shouldn’t be difficult.

How long should I wait to get a sponsor?

Generally speaking, the same rule applies to sponsors.  Listen to what people say.  Look for people who are happy in sobriety, and sound like it — consistently.  Look for people who sound honest.  Avoid people who quote the literature constantly, and look for people who make sense when they’re thinking for themselves.  Don’t wait too long, but try to choose based on those ideas.

There is no set rule, but since a sponsor is your guide through the program and the steps, it’s not good to wait too long.  If you’re doing a meeting a day, you should have a pretty good list of candidates in a couple of weeks.  Then ask them to go for a cup of coffee, and spend some time one-one-one.  If that feels good, then ask.  You're not getting married, but you don't want a one-night stand, either.

What is a reservation?

A reservation is an excuse to use that we make in advance.  Here are some examples:

  • I’m an alcoholic and can’t drink, but a little pot can’t hurt.
  • I’m a painkiller addict, but it’s OK to have an occasional drink.
  • I’ll go to meetings and do as I’m told, but it’s hard for me to trust people so I’m not getting a sponsor.
  • I’ll go to meetings, work the steps, and do as I’m told, but I’m sure that after I’ve been clean and sober for a while it will be OK for me to have a drink now and then.
  • I’ll go to meetings and work the steps, but to heck with that one-year thing.  I’m going to have a relationship if one comes along.

To put it another way, a reservation is a recipe for failure.

How often should I see my family members that still use drugs?

How often do you want to be tempted to use drugs yourself?

Talk about pushing buttons!  Our families hard-wired our buttons for us.  They can push them without even meaning to.  In any case, people who are using around you clearly don’t have your best interests on their mind.  Add to that the fact that seeing you clean and sober may make them uncomfortable enough to actively encourage you to use, and the answer is simple: very seldom, and always in the company of a sober companion. (See “reservations.”)

That's it for this time.  Keep on keepin' on!