You’re asking the wrong question. What we really need to know is how to find support on the outside so that we won’t need to try to stay sober on our own.
One of the outstanding characteristics of active addicts is isolation. Even when we’re in a crowd, pontificating and running the show (or believing that we are) we don’t really share the space with anyone else. We don’t have meaningful conversations. We don’t listen to what others say. Our attention is turned inward, toward what we think, what we want others to think, what we want to keep secret, how this can work to our benefit — without concern for its effect on others. We’re concerned with how we can get our next drink or drug, how to manipulate others, how to bolster our nonexistent self esteem, and so forth.
We may share what’s happening on the surface, but that’s the problem: when it comes to our relationships with others, we’re all surface. What they see is not what’s there. We don’t even know how to be honest with ourselves, and we surely aren’t able to be honest and open with others. That would put our relationships with our drugs in jeopardy, and no addict is going to chance that. We don’t know how to trust, because we can’t afford to.
If you knew what I’m really like, you’d be disgusted. Worse, you might take my drugs — my only friends — away from me.
So, one of the most important things about recovery is learning to relate to other people honestly. We do that by developing relationships with people who will accept us as we are, who will be honest with us, and who will help us learn to be honest with ourselves. We do that by gradually learning to trust others, so that we can be honest with them.
We learn to relate to others honestly by developing relationships that are based on healthy ways of looking at life, outlooks that can take the place of a lifestyle centered around drinking, drugging, and the behavior connected with those things. Eventually, we trust enough that we are willing to accept guidance in repairing other relationships, whether they be with family, friends, employers or the legal system.
We stay clean and sober by making in our lives, and in the way we approach life. We get help doing that from people who have done it themselves. We do it by developing a support group where we can practice recovery. In short, we do it in AA, NA, or some other fellowship or group that can help us learn to live a lifestyle that is healthy physically, emotionally and socially.
If we don’t do these things — if we continue to think the same way, relate to the world the same way, behave the same way — it is only a matter of time before we use again. Why wouldn’t we?
We don’t do it on our own.
To paraphrase Dr. Phil, how was that working for you?