Most alcoholics and addicts find their lives in shambles by the time they are ready to make a change; in fact, the circumstances generated by their addiction are generally what motivate them to seek recovery. Then there are those whose lives are pretty much still in order—on the surface—but whose emotional bottoms are sufficient to compel them to seek help. Either way—and it’s usually a combination of both—alcoholics at the turning point are faced with a stark reality: on their own they are powerless to change the course of their addiction, and the consequences of their addiction (emotional and situational) will continue to pile up. The desperate effort to manage one’s alcohol or drug addiction, to cope with deteriorating relationships and life problems, and to bear the resulting emotional pain finally becomes too much. The alcoholic is faced with a choice: continue to the bitter end on a worsening downward spiral, or submit to treatment.

First things first

Recovery is most reliable—and satisfying—when it is given priority. The newly sober person is often overwhelmed with the complications of his or her life, and obsessed with the idea of fixing each problem. The trouble is, the mind that created the problems—and that invariably led to another day of drinking—is not equipped to repair the problems, nor to solve the drink problem.

The mind itself needs repairing

Most recovering alcoholics/addicts discover that a complete surrender to the recovery process yields the best results, not only in terms of stopping drinking/drugs, but also in terms of handling circumstances and finding emotional stability and some degree of contentment. Putting recovery first—using the tools learned in treatment; participating in a recovery community; prayer and meditation; vigilance in regard to watching for counterproductive thinking, anger, and negativity; and finding and talking to trusted sober friends—offers a tremendous payoff. Putting recovery in a back seat and giving priority to coping with life without using new tools is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: there’s a crash ahead, and it won’t be pretty. There is no middle-of-the-road solution.

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