1) I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.
I now take charge of my life and my disease. I accept the responsibility.
Out of all the statements, this one is the most important to me personally, since until I fully understood and embraced it, I couldn’t sustain sobriety.
So let’s break it down.
“I have a life-threatening problem”
Yes, I do. I have a chemical dependence on alcohol, that is abated. only by staying away from it. And it is life-threatening. I should have died any number of times. towards the end of my drinking days, due to the situations that I let alcohol put me in, from falling and hurting myself in black outs, or from overdose, given the amount I was drinking. When I first went into rehab, my liver function tests were off the charts, and I have a fatty liver. For a long time though, I couldn’t accept that my problem was life threatening – so I got hurt when I blacked out, big deal – it was a funny story to share, except I was the only one laughing. And I will have it all my life. There is no cure for addiction, except total abstinence which can put it into remission. But every time I get the thought, “a drink would be nice”, “I’d like a beer”, or “I’d like to numb out for awhile” I have to remind myself, that those would be very bad choices and would start me down a road I might not come back from.
“That once had me.”
But there’s hope. As long as I stay sober, the active part of my disease is in my past. It doesn’t define me. I was in a day hospital program, for depression a few year ago, and since I was also dealing with addiction, I had a daily appointment with the hospital’s addiction’s specialist, who was an amazing nurse. I’d relapsed upon entering the program, since I didn’t want to be there, and continued to drink for the first week, I was in the program. Then I finally realized that was stupid, and sobered up. On my 5th day sober, the nurse said to me. “Good news, now that you’ve been sober 5 days, the alcohol is out of your system, and you have a choice. You can choose never to drink again.” When I’m actively drinking I lose the power of choice – all bets are off, and the addiction takes over. When I’m sober, I can choose to stay that way.
“I now take charge of my life and my disease.”
To me this means, I own my recovery. Nobody else is going to keep me sober. What does that look like for me? Well it means daily writing and meditation, participating in on-line recovery communities, reading about recovery, taking antabuse, and staying involved in groups at my rehab, and seeing a psychologist, once a week. It also means being aware of HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) and making sure that I don’t ever become too much one of those things. It means eating a healthy diet as much as possible. And, it means taking care of my mental health, by seeing my psychiatrist regularly and taking my meds as prescribed.
“I accept the responsibility.”
No one is going to do it for me. Staying sober is 100% on me. It means learning to live with the hard feelings, and finding new ways to celebrate. It means making the choice to not pick up, and doing whatever I have to do to remain sober. And I’m going to give it my best shot, because the alternative isn’t pretty.