The only thing certain about change is that it is sure to happen. Major changes must be made at the beginning of a sober life. The first change is sobriety itself: freedom from all mind-altering chemicals including alcohol (we are not referring to prescribed medications). It goes without saying that sobriety is a must as we embark on this new way of life. Without sobriety, we have nothing but drunkenness and debauchery. We are living an unlived life just going through the motions. Addicts are not friends of change and, it can be very difficult for them to incorporate even positive changes into their lives.
The newly sober person usually has excessive baggage of all sorts which needs attention upon attaining sobriety. We may have financial difficulties, relational issues, and court matters that need to be resolved. Calamities of all sorts may begin to show up on their doorstep. Dealing with these situations will bring about, even more, change for the addict. Restitution may need to be made, apologies may need to be given and new ways of thinking and behaving will need to be incorporated into the addict’s life. All of this involves deep-seated change and stress for the individual. At times immediate family members may make demands upon the addict to change causing great stress for the newly sober person. If one is to stay sober change will come but has no timetable for its completion or outcome.
Fear of the unknown can also have an effect upon the addict’s willingness to make changes in their lives. It has been said that the addict creates a rut in which they live. Upon the creation of this rut, the addict begins to settle in on an uncomfortable way of life. It may be an unacceptable form of life but it is familiar to the addict. This familiarity can keep the addict sequestered in their rut for a long period of time. Moving on through change can take strenuous effort and determination.
Changes that can be characterized as good changes can also be very stressful. The addict may not have been successful at very much of anything for quite a while. When living a sober life positive change will occur through the application of various treatment modalities. Success may make the addict uncomfortable and they may not feel worthy of such a positive change. This is when sober friends and a sponsor can be most helpful in reinforcing positive thoughts and actions for the addict. Feelings of unworthiness can be processed through therapy or the 12 Steps as well as other types of treatment. Family support for the addict which may not be forthcoming may also hinder the addict’s progress. This can be due to the bridge-burning the addict practiced when active in their addiction. Families may be slow to forgive past transgressions caused by the addict’s behavior while using. Hopefully, in due time these relationships can be mended but it is not guaranteed that they will. A career can be derailed, a marriage can end up in divorce, custody of children may not be granted to the addict. These are all realities of changes that the addict may have to go through while sober.
Through the 12 Step process, the addict is able to see their glaring and no so glaring defects. Solutions for solving these things can be ascertained with the help of a sponsor or a close-mouthed friend. Some issues such as infidelity in a relationship need to be handled with great care. The addict may feel extreme guilt for these wrongdoings. However, we are not to save ourselves by inflicting more harm in a disclosure that could devastate the other party involved. We are just able to confess these things to our sponsor and realize that there are some wrongs we can never fully right.
Through the process of recovery, we are placed on a new path. We no longer have to act out our defects creating great accumulations of baggage. We go forward in our new life hoping to have a positive impact on others instead of causing all types of harm. The Steps give us the ability to make positive changes in our lives on a daily basis. What is necessary is the willingness to make changes and, to not revert to old behaviors and ways of thinking while in this process.