In the program we recognize that we are dealing with addiction. In an ideal world, once a person enters the program it would be wonderful if they put down their drug of choice forever. Unfortunately, sometimes that is not the case. Periodically, at a meeting someone will raise their hand and say they have a day or a week back. In response people at the meeting will say, “keep coming back”. We understand how powerful addiction is. Rather than judging the person who had a slip, we individually and collectively encourage them to rejoin the program. When this happens it demonstrates the power of the program. It’s not easy to admit to your peers that you had a slip. Yet is is important to do so. We begin by being honest with ourselves. We could have so to speak “put one over on the fellowship” by not admitting our slip. Yet by admitting our slip publicly, we strengthen the concept of being honest in our dealings. If we can’t be honest to ourselves and others about our drug of choice, we have little chance of being successful with long term sobriety. Denial grows where personal honesty is lacking.
Personal Reflection: How can I help someone who is just coming back?
Going to meetings are wonderful. They give us an opportunity to speak about what’s on our mind. Invariably at a meeting you will hear someone say, “I heard what I needed to hear today”. Somehow it always works out that a person will be speaking about an issue or a problem that is highly relevant to us at exactly this point in our recovery. We also very much enjoy the friendship and camaraderie of meetings. This is especially true of our home group where we get to know the members on a very personal level. Sometimes we will rush to a meeting because we had a very trying and emotional day and just need to vent.
Where we need to exercise care is when we say to ourselves that we don’t need to go to a meeting. At first blush, this might seem okay. Our lives were going well, or we were tired that evening or the weather outside was nasty. Of course there are times when we have a legitimate reason for missing a meeting. However, we need to remember that we are alcoholics or drug or food addicts. Part of our disease is a tendency to isolate. This was often the first step on the road to a slip. When that voice tells us we don’t have to get to a meeting, we need to jump up and go. It might be the most important meeting of our life.
Personal Reflection: Am I beginning to miss meetings?
At times it’s very confusing when we encounter someone who had a slip. It’s understandable when a relative newcomer goes out. We congratulate him or her for coming back into the rooms and then move on to the next order of business. What is more startling is when a person with a lot of time picks up their drink or drug of choice. It seems to be almost beyond explanation. Here is someone; that went to hundreds and perhaps thousands of meetings. They often sponsored other members in the program. Step work was a part of their lives. Yet with all that; they had a slip. Upon closer examination, we often find that all of their program practices were past tense in nature. They used to make a lot of meetings; they used to call their sponsor, they used to work the steps on a daily basis. Somewhere along the way their sobriety began to take a backseat to other aspects of their life. What they failed to realize that by keeping their sobriety front and center other aspects of their life would have become more manageable. When they allowed the daily viscitudes of life to push aside their program, loss of sobriety soon followed.
Daily Reflection: Have I allowed sobriety to lose some of its priority?
At a meeting recently, a fellow raised his hand and said I have one day back. Usually this isn’t something out of the ordinary. There are those who are chronic relapsers. They keep going out after a few days, weeks or months of sobriety. Usually they want to do it their way. In their arrogance they think they know better than people with years and often decades of sobriety. They refuse to listen to the advice of others with a lot more time and experience. This invariably leads to a slip and their having one day back.
In the case of the fellow who raised his hand, the scenario was quite different. He had 1 day back, but his slip was after 22 years of sobriety. He had a sponsor, sponsees, and a home group. What happened was that he had gotten very complacent. He had forgotten that we work the program one day at a time. Because he had so many years of sobriety he decided to cut back on meetings, and do much less program work. He forgot that having a lot of time was no guarantee for the present day. His failure to be emotionally and spiritually fit every day led to his giving in to his addiction.
Personal Reflection: How do I keep it green?