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Tools For Living Sober Part 3

Welcome to the third part of Tools for Living Sober series, 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 third set of excerpts from the suggested methods for Living Sober:

13. “Easy Does It”

For a great many of us, sitting quietly alone for 15 or 20 minutes before starting each day’s activities helps us set out in a relaxed, orderly frame of mind. Some of us use specific methods of prayer or meditation which we have found particularly well suited to this purpose. And maybe several times during a hectic day, we manage to sit undisturbed, with eyes closed, for a five-minute break, then resume work refreshed.

When we do find ourselves up-tight and even frantic, we can ask ourselves occasionally, “Am I really that indispensable?” or “Is this hurry really necessary?” What a relief to find the honest answer is frequently no! And such devices actually serve, in the long run, not only to help us get over our drinking problem and its old ways; they also enable us to become far more productive, because we conserve and channel our energy better. We arrange priorities more sensibly. We learn that many actions once considered vital can be eliminated if they are thoughtfully reexamined. “How much does it really matter?” is a very good question.

14. Being Grateful

Such an enormous expenditure of energy in negative speculations is familiar to many of us; we remember the dark cast of mind that prevailed during the active stage of our own alcoholism. Some of it, to be sure, may have been simply a pharmacological effect of alcohol, which is a depressant drug. When we get the last molecules of alcohol out of the system, a lot of the gloom disappears along with it.


But the habit of thinking in such neurotically depressed ways can stay with some of us, we have found, until we learn to spot it and carefully root it out.

However, now that we are free of alcohol, we have much more control over our thinking. We have a broader range of thoughts, in minds that are no longer so blurred. The thoughts we choose to spend time on in any given 24 hours can strongly influence the complexion of our feeling for that day—bright and healthy, or murky and disheartened.

15. Remembering Your Last Drunk

That’s not a typographical error. The word is “drunk,” not “drink,” as you’ll see. “A drink” is a term which has awakened pleasurable echoes and anticipations in millions of people for centuries. Therefore, when the suggestion of “a drink” comes to us, we now try to remember the whole train of consequences of starting with just “a drink.” We think the drink all the way through, down to our last miserable drunk and hangover.

A friend who offers us a drink usually means simply that one sociable glass or two. But if we are careful to recall the full suffering of our last drinking episode, we are not deceived by our own long-ago notion of “a drink.” The blunt, physiological truth for us, as of today, is that a drink pretty surely means a drunk sooner or later, and that spells trouble.

Drinking for us no longer means music and gay laughter and flirtations. It means sickness and sorrow.

16. Eliminating Self-Pity

This emotion is so ugly that no one in his or her right mind wants to admit feeling it. Even when sober, many of us remain clever at hiding from ourselves the fact that we are astew in a mess of self-pity. We do not like at all being told that it shows, and we are sharp at arguing that we are experiencing some other emotion—not that loathsome poor-me-ism. Or we can, in a second, find a baker’s dozen of perfectly legitimate reasons for feeling somewhat sorry for ourselves.


When we catch self-pity starting, we also can take action against it with instant bookkeeping. For every entry of misery on the debit side, we find a blessing we can mark on the credit side. What health we have, what illnesses we don’t have, what friends we have loved, the sunny weather, a good meal a-coming, limbs intact, kindnesses shown and received, a sober 24 hours, a good hour’s work, a good book to read, and many other items can be totaled up to outbalance the debit entries that cause self-pity.

We can use the same method to combat the holiday blues, which are sung not only by alcoholics. Christmas and New Year’s, birthdays, and anniversaries throw many other people into the morass of self-pity. In A.A., we can learn to recognize the old inclination to concentrate on nostalgic sadness, or to keep up a litany of who is gone, who neglects us now, and how little we can give in comparison to rich people. Instead, we add up the other side of the ledger, in gratitude for health, for loved ones who are around, and for our ability to give love, now that we live in sobriety. And again, the balance comes out on the credit side.

17. Getting Out of the “If” Trap

We all followed up that last “if “with our own explanations (excuses?) for our drinking. Each of us thought: I wouldn’t be drinking this way…

If it wasn’t for my wife (or husband or lover)…if I just had more money and not so many debts…if it wasn’t for all these family problems… if I wasn’t under so much pressure…if I had a better job or a better place to live… if people understood me… if the state of the world wasn’t so lousy…if human beings were kinder, more considerate, more honest…if everybody else didn’t expect me to drink…if it wasn’t for the war (any war)… and on and on and on.

Those ifs we cannot afford. We have to stay sober no matter how life treats us, no matter whether nonalcoholics appreciate our sobriety or not. We have to keep our sobriety independent of everything else, not entangled with any people, and not hedged in by any possible cop-outs or conditions.


Tools For Living Sober: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

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

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 footer section, and always feel free to contact me anytime at

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.


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