Welcome to the fourth 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 fourth set of excerpts from the suggested methods for Living Sober:
18. Being Wary of Drinking Occasions
We cannot insulate ourselves against all such suggestions, and it is futile to bemoan that fact. Nor do we have any need or wish to deprive other people of drinking. We have also found that we do not have to forgo the pleasure of being with companions who drink. Although it makes sense to spend more time with nondrinkers than with drinkers when we first start staying sober, we have no wish to withdraw from the world forever just because so many people drink. Those who cannot eat fish or nuts or pork or strawberries don’t crawl into caves. Why should we?
Do we go into bars, or into restaurants or clubs where liquor is served?
Yes—after a few weeks or months, when we have a legitimate reason to be there. If we have time to kill while waiting for friends, we do not choose to spend it perched on a barstool, swilling a cola. But if a business or social event occurs in such a place, we attend and participate in all but the drinking.
For the first non-drinking months, it’s probably a healthy idea to stay away from our old drinking buddies and haunts, and to find reasonable excuses for skipping parties where drinking will be a major entertainment. It seems especially important to stay away from such affairs if we feel nervous about them.
19. Avoiding Dangerous Drugs and Medications
Drinking became, for many of us, a sort of self-medication. We often drank to feel better and to feel less sick.
And thousands of us used other chemicals, too. We discovered pep pills that seemed to counteract a hangover or relieve our depression (until they let us down, too), sedatives and tranquilizers that could substitute for the alcohol and calm our jitters, bromides and nonprescription pills and elixirs (many of them were called “nonaddictive” or “not habit-forming”) that helped us sleep or gave us extra energy or loosened our inhibitions or floated us away on an exquisite surge of bliss.
Potentially, this strong desire, almost a need, for such psychoactive (mind-affecting) mood-changers can be embedded root-deep in anybody who is much of a drinker.
Even if, technically, in pharmacological terms, a drug is not a physiologically addictive one, we can easily get habituated to it and dependent on it, we have repeatedly found. It’s as if “addiction proneness” was a condition inside us, not a quality of the drug itself. Some of us believe we have become “addictive” people, and our experience gives reinforcing support to that concept.
20. Remembering that alcoholism is an incurable, progressive, fatal disease
We try never to lose sight of the unchangeable fact of our alcoholism, but we learn not to brood or feel sorry for ourselves or talk about it all the time. We accept it as a characteristic of our body—like our height or our need for glasses, or like any allergies we may have.
We need not be ashamed that we have a disease. It is no disgrace. No one knows exactly why some people become alcoholics while others don’t It is not our fault. We did not want to become alcoholics. We did not try to get this illness.
We did not suffer alcoholism just because we enjoyed it, after all. We did not deliberately, maliciously set out to do the things we were later ashamed of. We did them against our better judgment and instinct because we were really sick, and didn’t even know it.
To summarize: We remember we have an incurable, potentially fatal ailment called alcoholism. And instead of persisting in drinking, we prefer to figure out, and use, enjoyable ways of living without alcohol.
19. “Live and Let Live”
To begin to put the concept of “Live and Let Live” into practice, we must face this fact: There are people in A.A, and everywhere else, who sometimes say things we disagree with, or do things we don’t like. Learning to live with differences is essential to our comfort. It is exactly in those cases that we have found it extremely helpful to say to ourselves, “Oh, well, ‘Live and Let Live.'”
It is very easy to use other people’s actions as an alibi for drinking. We used to be experts at it But in sobriety, we have learned a new technique: We never let ourselves get so resentful toward someone else that we allow that person to control our lives—especially to the extent of causing us to drink. We have found we have no desire to let any other person run, or ruin, our lives.
20. “First Things First”
Here’s an old saying that has special, strong meaning for us. Simply stated, it is this: Above all other concerns, we must remember that we cannot drink. Not drinking is the first order of business for us, anywhere, any time, under any circumstances.
This is strictly a matter of survival for us. We have learned that alcoholism is a killer disease, leading to death in a large number of ways. We prefer not to activate that disease by risking a drink.
Treatment of our condition, as the American Medical Association has noted, “primarily involves not taking a drink.” Our experience reinforces that prescription for therapy.
In practical, day-by-day matters, this means we must take whatever steps are necessary, at whatever inconvenience, not to drink.
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 footer section, 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.