|06-10-2006, 01:01 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jun 2006
7 tools for sobriety
What they are. This is not a movie review. We are not even talking about desperadoes. However, we are talking about seven tools (gunfighters, if you must) that will make a major contribution to your sobriety. In fact, one of our friends claims these Magnificent Seven are absolutely mandatory to quality sobriety. If you omit anyone of them, he avows, you will be shortchanging yourself. He might be right. Here they are:
1.) Don't Drink. What a concept. We were shocked when it was pointed out to us that there is no step that says, "Stop drinking". AA presumes we have stopped already, and the whole program of Alcoholics Anonymous is designed to give us the tools to avoid returning to drinking alcohol. A drinking drunk who goes to AA meetings is probably better off than a drunk who does not. However, he will be a miserable drunk, one with a head full of AA and a belly full of booze.
Sometimes we go to hospitals or drying out places to get us off the sauce and avoid seizures. We might even have been locked up for a few days, and we haven't been there long enough to find out how to get into the pruno supply.
When we talk about alcohol here we mean all mind altering chemicals other than nicotine and caffeine. The marijuana maintenance program, too, postpones the counting of sober days. If one takes prescribed medication, they should not listen to the wanna-be doctors in AA. Nevertheless, we alkies have learned to fool well meaning doctors into giving us drugs for recreational purposes. Or, we become patients of the push-pills-for-pay clinics. Be sure your doctor wants the very best for you, and tell him you are a sober member of AA. Ask him to be sure that your drugs are not aggravating your drug dependency. At the proper time, if ever, ask him to prepare a withdrawal plan for you.
More about nicotine. When we love our sober friends, especially if they call us "sponsor", we want them to be free of addictive practices, especially when, like nicotine, the drug use is potentially lethal. Recent studies have uncovered two surprises: 1) chewing spit tobacco is not a good way to quit smoking. It is highly addictive, causes mouth cancer, and it is totally disgusting to observe during an AA meeting. 2) Withdrawal from alcohol is several times more difficult if nicotine is present than when nicotine is absent from the body. We used to caution newcomers to quit drinking first. The experts now say to quit the smoking right away. We are fans of Buddy T. at About.Com. Here is more information about nicotine and alcohol.
2.) Go to AA Meetings. While the Big Book talks about the benefits of AA Groups, it does not push AA meetings the way we do now. We have mentioned that there are at least ten good reasons to attend AA meetings regularly. If you have difficulty concentrating on recovery in a room full of attractive sex objects, you might check into some unisex (your own sex, that is) meetings.
3.) Take Direction. For most of us, seeking out an AA sponsor is a really good idea. For some of us, it is essential. You will pick up all kinds of advice about sponsors. Here is ours.
1) The primary role of a good sponsor is to set an example of quality sober living. This does not mean they are perfect (avoid the perfect ones), but they use the steps and the Spirit to guide them through life. Hopefully, you will select somebody who has extricated themselves from the same kinds of problems you have.
2) The mission of a good sponsor is to take you through the 12 steps. We suggest you be well into step nine by the end of your first sober year. You may also have noticed that we have suggestions on taking the steps. We hope your sponsor will not be too far a field from our step guidelines.
3) The method of a good sponsor, other than example, is to get you immersed in the Big Book and the 12&12 as well as other AA and related literature.
4) Finally, your good sponsor will, as Chuck C. told us, help you uncover, discover and discard your defects of character. This comes from taking the steps and from lots of writing and talking about our living problems and solutions as we change.
4.) Study the Big Book. Most AA meetings make easy terms on getting your own copy of the Big Book. So, get one. Next, read it. Three pages every evening is a good habit. We suggest you start with Chapter 2, There is a Solution, and discover where it tells you three times on a single page what the solution really is. Next, read The Doctor's Opinion. Then, read Appendix II, Spiritual Experience. You may have to read it more than 16 times to truly grasp it. Now that you own and have read your Big Book, study it. Go to Big Book studies and Step Studies, one of each every week.
5.) Take the Twelve Steps. The process of recovery that works for us is brought about by taking the Twelve Steps. When we come into AA most of us are suffering from the dementia of dipsomania. We are distraught, disoriented, depressed and disillusioned. Our self hatred stems, in part, from guilt, shame, remorse and self loathing. We are, often without our awareness, highly defective in character. We have choked our spiritual channels with these bedevilments congealed with selfishness and self centeredness. No wonder we jump at the chance to take direction from a bunch of recovered alcoholics.
The Twelve Steps are a process of recovery from alcoholism which awakens us to the Spirit within. We are reborn. We lead productive, joyful sober lives. Our transformation is in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the our lives are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate us. (Give yourself one bonus point if you know from where we lifted the last two sentences.)
The 12 Steps are a process of change. Change is frightening and painful. Change is necessary to evolve from where we were to how God would have us. If you share our theology, God will ultimately cause you to be changed into His perfect tool. So, why wait? Get on with it.
6.) Pray. Use the spiritual tools of prayer, meditation and service to live redirected lives and enter into conscious contact with the Spirit. We suggest you pray at least 5 times each day:
1) In the morning pray from awakening until you have to pee.
2) In the evening, pray from the time you get into bed until you fall asleep. It is a fact that whatever is in your mind when you go to sleep will be there all night. If you fall asleep while fighting, you will awaken all bruised up inside. If you fall asleep while fantasizing wild sex, you will be all pooped out in the morning. If you fall asleep with God, you will be full of Spirit when you awaken.
3) - 5) Pray before eating.
6) - n) Pray for guidance. Thank God when nice things happen. Ask for His direction when things are not so nice.
"Should I pray on my knees?", you might ask. When you retire or arise you might wish to pray on your knees. Doing so, however, is not an official AA suggestion. Language in Step 7 about praying on the knees was removed after appearing in the initial manuscript of the Big Book. The choice is yours.
Seek to grow spiritually. Doing so, by the way, is the real purpose of the AA way of life. Getting off the sauce is only the first thing we do. Staying off the sauce through the Spirit and service is the rest of what we do.
7.) Be of service. From day one you can stop terrorizing yourself, your family and your neighbors. That is a grand form of service. Then, come to meetings early. Help set up the room. Be the greeter at the door. Be available for reading during the meeting. Help tear down the meeting room (we mean here the opposite of setting up). Share your experience, strength and hope with those who come after you. Be available, later, for 12 step calls, meeting commitments and external services, such as GSR.
Get a job! Be a useful citizen at work, in the family, and in the neighborhood. Be an example. Sponsor other recovering alcoholics.
Conclusion. Make the Magnificent Seven your inseparable companions. Let them protect and guide you until you sense that the Spirit itself is taking over. But, never abandon these Seven. Let them be the basis of your new way of life. Demonstrate them to others.
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