Addiction is a cruel master. It has no respect for age, gender, race or social standing. The unfortunate recipient will normally have gone through a long period of denial until a crisis point is reached. Whether they’re down and out or well to do, the fortunate ones are those who recognize that they are ill and choose to do something about it.
Since its beginnings in 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has helped more than 2,000,000 problem drinkers with its programme of recovery. The programme is based on the A.A. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Narcotics Anonymous has adapted the programme to help recovering drug users.
Those embarking on the journey of recovery are encouraged to read and absorb the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Don’t worry about the references to God and Higher Power. Religious beliefs are not a prerequisite for recovery. Addiction Recovery can and will be achieved by investing totally in the belief that ‘one day at a time’ will work. Looking backwards can be a negative pastime, tomorrow being an unknown quantity. The core belief that total abstinence is the only way forward must be adhered to if a return to a full and fruitful life is to be achieved.
Total abstinence can produce remarkable results in short periods of time. High blood pressure can return to normal limits, improvements in memory and concentration with a general feeling of wellbeing are achievements most often mentioned.
Many addicts beginning the journey in recovery are given a useful blueprint for their day. It is called ‘Just for today’. Others will plan their day using old standards and behaviors. Just the act of climbing out of bed without a crushing hangover must be recognized as a major achievement for the individual who has been used to drinking hard liquor well into the early hours of the morning and in many cases, for days on end. The first cup of coffee or tea instead of a beer has been a life-changing moment for some.
Early in Addiction recovery it will be emphasized by fellow A.A. members that the temptation to try just a small drink will sometimes be almost overpowering. The struggling member will already be aware that there is a well organized network of fellow sufferers who are available to offer support either in person or over the telephone. They will also be reminded, at every meeting, that alcoholism is an incurable, progressive, fatal disease which they can tackle if they remember that the first drink could be their last.
Coping strategies are freely available to the newly sober person. Regular eating habits are a new experience for many recovering alcoholics and the benefits must not be underestimated. Most will still have their old habits embedded in their memories and, now awake and alert, the temptation to return to old habits will be a constant battle to overcome.
Some steps on the road to recovery and total abstinence will appear to be a mountain which is just to high to climb. Help is always available and generally can be found at the end of a telephone. The power of family support is a just reward for the person who has climbed that mountain and reached the top.