An Alcoholic’s Guide To Crashing And Burning During The Holidays

Originally posted on Message in a Bottle:

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Yeah.  Holidays.  There are countless parties and events planned.  Some of them are even fun (just kidding…ouch!).  Anyways, many folks in recovery find themselves a little fazed when it comes to the overwhelming ideals of what festivities are “supposed” to look like.  For many, especially early in their sobriety, this time of year can be a challenge.

But if you’re planning to go out in flames, I have some pointers.  (Note: I don’t want you to go out in flames). Consider this the anti-tip post.  Cheeky, no doubt, but the message is clear – stay on course.  If you cherish your sobriety, protect it.  That’s about it.  Don’t get me started on the whole thing of “but I have to go to so-and-so’s shindig”. I don’t buy it.  At any time of the year.  But I will save that rant for another day.

Without further ado – some of my…

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Hubris

One of the groups that I attend regularly has lost its meeting place,  and for the last three weeks we’ve been meeting at the local IHOP for fellowship and to discuss possibilities.  (It turns out that meeting space is at a premium on Saturday at 6:00 PM.)

It was interesting,  but also disappointing. The two guys with the least sober time spent quite a while discussing members who weren’t present,  telling war stories,  and generally talking about stuff that I don’t consider conducive to recovery – –  at all – –  in that particular fellowship. The others in the group mostly kept quiet.  Since it wasn’t really a meeting,  and since I didn’ t find it disturbing on a personal level,  I just listened.  Naturally,  the guy with the least time was the most vocal by far,  pontificating on this and that and generally behaving like a newcomer who hasn’t yet gained a realization of how his ego is getting in the way of his growth in recovery.

The way I used to be.   (I’m not still,  am I?)

When I got out of treatment, back in the Dark Ages, I was already a bona fide, self-certified Junior Therapist and all-round expert on recovery,  psychology, the program and whatever other subject might have arisen – –  just the sort of know-it-all jerk I was when I was an active drunk and addict,  and just the way I can be now on the bad days. The concept of “sit down,  shut up and listen with an open mind”  totally escaped my notice,  as it still can on (thankfully) rare occasions. Hey,  I used to belong to Mensa!   How wrong could I be?

That attitude,  the poor self-image that made me a pedantic know-it-all,  and a general disinclination to listen lest I hear something that threatened my little cocoon of complacency kept me from getting into real recovery for the next 23 years.   Only when my previously-hidden sex addiction finally kicked my ass did I begin to develop even the vestiges of humility,  which I continue to work on daily with varying degrees of success.

I wish there was some way to impress on people like me,  early on, that we really don’t know shit,  and that opening our mouths too much simply demonstrates that to others. I know now whence came the smiles on the faces of the old-timers back in those days.

It wasn’t from a sense of admiration after all.

Occasional heroin use may worsen HIV infection

Researchers at Yale and Boston University and their Russian collaborators have found that occasional heroin use by HIV-positive patients may be particularly harmful to the immune system and worsens HIV disease, compared to persistent or no heroin use.

The findings are published in the journal AIDS and Behavior.  READ MORE…

Who Do You Think You’re Foolin’?

Fred, who has been coming to meetings for months, can’t remember what the 2nd Step is about.

Mary has gotten to the 4th Step several times, then bails, relapses, comes back, and repeats the pattern again.

Alec keeps screwing around with sponsors. He usually has one, but then finds a reason to fire them and find another. Little work results.

Mark has been around for years, talks a good game, but when pressed will admit that he’s never worked the steps with a sponsor and relies on his “spirituality” to keep him sober.

[The names have been changed to protect the guilty, but you know who you are.]

Which begs the question, “How Long Until We Actually Start Work?” Continue reading

Making Decisions

One of the skills we have to master early in recovery is that of making good decisions. In truth, recovery is mostly about making good decisions, and we alcoholics and other addicts tend not to be very good at it. It’s critical to remember that every decision we make changes us and the rest of our lives to some extent, and there is really no way of knowing how much, or in what direction. That’s why it’s vitally important that we do our best to ensure, as often as possible, that we’re doing “the next right thing.” Continue reading