This is a central question and a key to our sobriety, our ability to get clean and sober and stay that way.
Several years ago I took a friend to Charlie Street, an alcoholism recovery program in Newport Beach. He had been injecting heroin for 11 months and told me he hadn’t had a drink in all that time. I pulled over at a liquor store and bought him a Budweiser. I told him to just say he was an alcoholic, because the program he was going to wouldn’t take an addict.
He said the beer “sure tasted good” and we drove over. He managed to stay about a week of the ten day program. During that time he called me and asked me to get one of his expensive tools out of hock. I refused, telling him to just let go of it and to concentrate in staying clean.
He was still holding on to his old life, unwilling to let go and concentrate all his efforts on the program of recovery. Despite being a complete mess, he had reservations.
He went back to using and died several months later. We had been friends since childhood. He was a loving, funny, happy-go-lucky man. He was hard-working and smart and losing him was awful.
Ours is radical program aimed at overcoming a cruel, destructive and cunning disease. A transformation, a spiritual awakening, must take place. But how? From the outset it seems impossible to bridge the distance from addiction to sobriety. An addict’s mind can’t solve the problem of addiction.
I had the same problem my friend had when I arrived in recovery. My extra baggage wasn’t holding on to recovering a valuable tool. It was my attitude toward religion.
“Spiritual experience” to me seemed to be a con concocted by some religious fanatics. These people were going to try to shove religious doctrine down my throat! That was not going to happen.
Still, I had fresh memories of doing insane, violent things while drinking. I was at the Big Book’s “turning point.” I didn’t want to drink, but I knew for sure that I would. A kind man volunteered to be my sponsor.
So it was sheer desperation that kept me in meetings. I saw that there was a solution and these people had it. They had what I wanted. They had accomplished what I could not do by myself.