Welcome to the second part to the new feature on the Sober Courage blog, called Tools for Living Sober which is based on the highly recommended book published by Alcoholics Anonymous called Living Sober.
The Living Sober text was first published in 1975 by AA World Services. It is a book that describes methods to stay sober that were developed by AA members after the Big Book was published in 1939. The Living Sober text was written by Barry L. an AA member who joined AA in the mid-1940’s.
There are 30 chapters in the book dedicated to the many ways that we stay sober. I have split them up into groups of six and created a 5 part series which will be published over the next several weeks.
Here is the second set of excerpts from the suggested methods for living without drinking:
7. Fending Off Loneliness:
“Although some of us were lone drinkers, it can hardly be said that we completely lacked companionship during our drinking days. People were all around us. We saw, heard, and touched them. But most of our important dialogues were entirely interior, held with ourselves. We were sure nobody else would understand. Besides, considering our opinion of ourselves, we were not sure that we wanted anybody to understand.”
“But we know now that we do not have to proceed all on our own. It is far more sensible, safer, and surer to do it in the company of the whole happy fleet going in the same direction. And none of us need feel any shame at all at using help, since we all help each other.”
“It is no more cowardly to use help in recovering from a drinking problem than it is to use a crutch if you have a broken leg. A crutch is a beautiful thing to those who need it, and to those who see its usefulness.”
“Our own experience at staying sober overwhelmingly reflects the wisdom of using whatever good help is available in recovery from a drinking problem. Despite our great need and desire, none of us recovered from alcoholism solely on our own. If we had, of course, we would have had no need to approach AA, a psychiatrist, or anyone else for aid.”
8. Letting Go of Old Ideas:
“We have found out that anybody who has trouble of any sort related to drinking may have the condition called “alcoholism.” This illness strikes without regard for age, creed, sex, intelligence, ethnic background, emotional health, occupation, family situation, strong constitution, eating habits, social or economic status, or general character. It is not a question of how much or how you drink, or when, or why, but of how your drinking affects your life—what happens when you drink.”
“Before we could recognize the illness in ourselves, we had to unload this tired old myth: It would be a sign of shameful weakness to admit that we couldn’t handle the sauce any more (if we ever could). Weakness? Actually, it takes considerable courage to stare unblinkingly at the hard truth, sparing nothing, without glossing over anything, without excuses, and without kidding ourselves. (It is unseemly to brag, but frankly, many of us think that at kidding ourselves we were world champions.)”
“When we could look, even temporarily, at just a few new ideas different from our old ones, we had already begun to make a sturdy start toward a happy, healthier new life. It happened just that way to thousands and thousands of us who deeply believed it never could.”
9. Using the Serenity Prayer:
God grant us
The serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
The courage to change the things we can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
“AA did not originate it. Versions of it seem to have been used for centuries in various faiths, and it is now widely current outside AA, as well as within the Fellowship.Whether we belong to this church or that, whether we are humanists, agnostics, or atheists, most of us have found these words a wonderful guide in getting sober, staying sober and enjoying our sobriety.”
“We’ve put one thing right at the head of the list among “the things we cannot change”: our alcoholism. Not matter what we do, we know that tomorrow we won’t suddenly be nonalcoholic-any more than we’ll be ten years younger or six inches taller.”
“We couldn’t change our alcoholism. But we didn’t say meekly, “All right I’m an alcoholic. Guess I’ll just have to drink myself to death.” There was something we could change. We didn’t have to be drunk alcoholics. We could become sober alcoholics. Yes, that did take courage. And we needed a flash of wisdom to see that it was possible, that we could change ourselves.”
10. Seeking Professional Help:
“Once we have started staying sober, a lot of our problems seem to disappear. But certain matters remain, or arise, which do require expert professional attention, such as that of an obstetrician, a chiropodist, a lawyer, a chest expert, a dentist, a dermatologist, or a psychological counselor of some kind.”
“One’s need for a helping hand is no sign of weakness and no cause for shame. “Pride” that prevents one’s taking an encouraging boost from a professional helper is phony. It is nothing but vanity, and an obstacle to recovery. The more mature one becomes, the more willing one is to use the best possible advice and help.”
11. Being Good to Yourself:
“Now that we know alcoholism is not immoral behavior, we have found it essential to readjust our attitudes. We have learned that one of the persons least likely to treat the alcoholic like a sick person is, somewhat surprisingly, the alcoholic herself (or himself). Once again, our old thinking habits are cropping up.”
“That is precisely where we can start being good—at least fair—to ourselves. We would not demand of a child or of any handicapped person more than is reasonable. It seems to us we have no right to expect such miracles of ourselves as recovering alcoholics, either.”
“We have found we can enjoy, sober, every good thing we enjoyed while drinking—and many, many more. It takes a little practice, but the rewards more than make up for the effort. To do so is not selfish, but self-protective. Unless we cherish our own recovery, we cannot survive to become unselfish, ethical, and socially responsible people.”
12. Getting Active:
“It is very hard just to sit still trying not to do a certain thing, or not even to think about it. It’s much easier to get active and do something else—other than the act we’re trying to avoid. So it is with drinking. Simply trying to avoid a drink (or not think of one), all by itself, doesn’t seem to be enough. The more we think about the drink we’re trying to keep away from, the more it occupies our mind, of course. And that’s no good. It’s better to get busy with something, almost anything, that will use our mind and channel our energy toward health.”
“When the need to give ourselves reasons for our drinking is no longer there, it often seems that our minds go on a sit-down strike. Some of us find we can’t think up non-drinking things to do! Perhaps this is because we’re just out of the habit. Or perhaps the mind needs a period of restful convalescence after active alcoholism ceases. In either case, the dullness does go away. After our first month’s sobriety, many of us notice a distinct difference. After three months, our minds seem still clearer. And during our second year of recovery, the change is striking. More mental energy seems available to us than ever before.”
To purchase this book click the link below:
Living Sober is an extremely informative book which does not offer a plan for getting sober but does offer us sound advice about how to stay sober. Basic, essential information from Alcoholics Anonymous. As the book states, “Anyone can get sober. . .the trick is to live sober.” (From Amazon.com)
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also find some great inspiration and support from all the awesome sober bloggers listed in the side bar under POSTS I LIKE and RECOVERY BLOGGERS, as well as Sober Courage page on Facebook and Sober Courage on Twitter.