Recently I attended an AA meeting where the topic was living life on life’s terms. Recovering alcoholics have to learn how to cope with the day in and day out pressures in life. Just because someone decides to quit drinking doesn’t mean that things are going to be alright in their life. You know the expression: “live sucks and then you die.”
More often than not, an alcoholic stops drinking because they have reached their bottom. The circumstance that pressured them to quit drinking are almost always still there when they enter into recovery. Without being able to medicate their problems away they must learn coping skills.
This is why the concept of living life on life’s terms is so powerful. The Alcoholics Anonymous program also teaches that nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. The combination of these two ideas work miraculously together to help a recovering alcoholic accept the situations they are dealing with as being exactly how they are supposed to be. There is another concept that is refereed to in the Big Book often: “acceptance is the answer to all of my problems.”
Prior to quitting drinking an alcoholic finds comfort in getting drunk to sooth the negative affects of the pressures they are dealing with. For some it is financial pressure they are trying to cover over and for others it may be relationship difficulties. Other alcoholics are faced with not feeling any self-worth and therefore, they find inner strength when they are drunk as all of their inhibitions fall to the wayside.
Financial pressures, relationship difficulties and low self-esteem are only a few of the culprits that contribute to a recovering alcoholic relapsing. In order for someone to succeed at not drinking, they must learn how to recognise and overcome the triggers that cause them to drink.
For many in recovery, they find that letting go of problems and trusting God helps keep them stay sober. This is usually combined with learning how to live one day at a time. When a recovering alcoholic masters the art of living in the present-rather than fearing the future or regretting the past, they have a much better chance of staying away from a drink. If someone just decides to stop drinking, but doesn’t learn how to handle the pressures without drinking, they usually don’t stay sober very long. It is usually ignorance that contributes greatly to someone having an alcoholic relapse.
Alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful. At any given moment an alcoholic can be faced with an urge to want a drink. The triggers can come from watching a commercial on TV for a particular brand of alcohol or while walking down the liquor isle in the store. The desire for a drink may be prompted by a particular fragrance or change of season. When an addict in recovery begins to notice where the urges come from or when they are happening, they can begin to use proven methods to ease the effects of the triggers.
There is a saying in many twelve step programs: “meeting makers-make it.” What is it that they make? Another day filled with staying away from drinking alcohol is the reward they receive for attending meetings. A recovering alcoholic must adapt the mindset that the number one priority in their life is to not drink. Nothing can interfere with this commitment to one’s self to maintain a clean and sober life…nothing! The kids, grandchildren, spouse, or work never come before doing whatever it takes to stay away from a drink. This is probably the most powerful mindset an alcoholic can have. I know that if I pick up and drink or take a drug that I will lose it all. Therefore, in order to keep my family together, I must keep the main thing, the main thing…staying sober! If I have one slip-I am jeopardizing thirteen years of victory over the bottle.
Family members of alcoholic/addicts need to learn how a recovering alcoholic can stay sober. They are having to deal with every emotion and problem that they have been smothering for years without any relief from mind altering substances. This means they are experiencing intense emotions of fear, anxiety, rejection, worry and regret like they haven’t in a long time. These things cause them to be a little rough around the edges for a while until they learn how to deal with the pressures of life without medicating their problems away.
There are many ways that alcoholics deal with life’s pressures.
So far we have talked about:
Understanding that nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.
The power of living one day at a time and not living in fear or regret.
The importance of attending twelve step meetings regularly.
Recognizing what triggers the mind to want to drink alcohol.
Acceptance is the answer to all of the alcoholics problems.
Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.
Letting go and trusting God.
Making sobriety the number one priority.
This article is rich with wisdom that can help you understand the alcoholic’s mind and why they act the way they do. I’m sharing here from thirteen years of experience in the AA program and ten years of participation in the Al-anon family group. I understand alcoholic behavior all too well. I also know firsthand how this recovering addict deals with the daily grind and pressures in life. There is a saying that is common in twelve step programs: “take what you like and leave the rest.” Although you may not agree with or even understand some of what I have shared – I am confident that there is something here to help you cope with an alcoholic a little better now.