In our circle of recovering addicts, we often hear talk of relapse. All kinds of strange theories have evolved around this event. Some say the addict hasn’t hit their bottom yet. Others may say that they weren’t quite ready to remain sober. The plain and simple truth is that the addict just simply chose to use/drink. No great mystery here. Just a simple choice to get high/drunk. Sadly, to say statistically speaking it is not in one’s favor to stay sober from their first encounter with the program.
In contrast to this present-day dilemma, let’s look at the Foreword to the Second Edition of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, page XX. It states that of addicts who came into the program and “really tried,” 50% got sober at once and remained that way.” The paragraph goes on to say that another “25% sobered up after some relapses.” The remaining 25% who stayed with AA “showed improvement.”
I don’t know about you but I like to gamble. When I read this passage in the book, I decided that I wanted to be a part of that group of 50%. Also, I had this strange notion that when a person “joined” AA, they couldn’t drink anymore. I didn’t want to get kicked out of the group so I decided I had to try really hard to take the steps and apply them in my life. By doing this I could remain a part of the fellowship and not get kicked out for drinking. I have since learned that no one gets kicked out for drinking again. I had a lot of strange notions when I got sober that have now been corrected.
The person may believe that they can go out and practice their addiction and come back whenever they want. This is not necessarily true. We have looked at the phenomenon of craving that develops when an addict begins to use again. This craving when activated makes it nearly impossible for the addict to come back into the fold. It has been said in AA that the door may not necessarily swing both ways; maybe that door won’t open again for you to come in.
Being a gambler, I chose to up my odds of staying sober and not relapsing. I became a part of the 50%. I have been sober since my first day in detox which was April 3, 1985. I have been through life on life’s terms now for 37 years. I have had loved ones pass away including my husband. I have been fired from my job and have been in broken relationships. I have dealt with toxic relatives and other toxic people. I had legal issues during my first 5 years of recovery. The point is I did not get sober and become immune to life’s inevitable situations and challenges. The reason I stayed sober through thick and thin is that I had gained the tools to do so by taking all 12 Steps in order and applying them to my life.
I have had the happiest moments of my life in sobriety. I have known love and peace which passes all understanding. I have always had a roof over my head and food on the table. I graduated college with a master’s degree. I have made lifelong friends and weeded out the toxic ones. I have had jobs I loved and parted from them on an amicable basis. I actually live my life today on a spiritual basis and do not just go through the motions of being alive. People invite me to their homes and I do likewise. I have a good relationship with my daughter and I was able to see her graduate from law school and pass the bar exam. I have traveled all over the United States and I took my 10-year Chip in Nebraska in a blizzard. I have done Karaoke on Bourbon Street in New Orleans (did I really share that?). And the best 12 Step meeting I have been to across the USA was in Nashville, Tennessee.
Why did I share all this? I wanted to show you that life is good and that we can get through the challenges that will come our way. We do this by using the tools we learned by taking the steps and applying them on a consistent basis in our lives. I thank my Higher Power that I was able to stay sober from day 1 and not have to go through the agony of relapse. I am part of the 50%.