The phrase “one day at a time” or “just for today” are cornerstones of 12 step fellowships. When we are in early sobriety, the thought of never being able to drink or drug again is a scary thought. These phrases are designed to show to us that all we need to do is focus on how hard we are working towards recovery today. However, when we start to put in the bare minimum effort, our behaviors shift towards complacency in sobriety, which is extremely dangerous and can quickly lead to a relapse.
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What Does Complacency in Sobriety Mean
The term complacent is defined as,
“pleased, especially with oneself or one’s merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied”
When alcoholics and addicts become complacent, we are like a ticking time bomb.
Think about sobriety as an escalator, and walking up the downside of it. You are making moves and busting your butt. Once you get to the top, you stop to relax and admire your hard work. Next thing you know, you’re tripping backwards over the bump at the bottom of the stairs, and now you’re on your butt, back where you started.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but the plus side is that getting sober doesn’t require as much cardio, so that’s a bonus. We also have a lot of cool stuff going on instead of just being on a set of stairs. We get friends and jobs and the love of a fellowship and a whole new life.
How Do I Know if I am Exhibiting Complacency in Sobriety
Complacency in sobriety is a scary thing because it can happen to anyone at any length in their sobriety. Here are some sure signs to watch our for regardless of how much sober time you have.
- Rationalizing skipping meetings and fellowship. When you start to hear yourself say, “I don’t need a meeting I’ll go tomorrow or I went yesterday”, this is a red flag.
- Disconnecting from your higher power. Whether it’s not praying often or taking your will back, this will only lead to fear and frustration.
- Allowing external gifts to run the show. When we start to get our “ish” together, we forget that we have to keep our diligence to keep our gifts.
- Falling back into old ways, for example, telling little white lies or manipulating others.
So how do we avoid it? How do we ensure that we never slip back from the progress we have made?
It’s actually pretty simple, if you are sure that you have admitted to yourself that you are an addict/alcoholic and your life has become unmanageable, then you will know that you need to work towards your sobriety as hard as you worked towards getting drunk and high.
I know it’s cliché but it’s the simple fact we need to drill into our heads to keep this new life. We can never go back, and all we have to do is focus on making sure that today, we have done what was needed to stay sober.
We can have all of the self-knowledge in the world about our alcoholism/addiction, but if we aren’t willing to do the footwork, we will be in danger of complacency in sobriety.
Now everyone has a different routine, and some people need more discipline than others, but if there is one thing I have learned in my own sobriety, it’s that I feel a whole lot better when I am diligently working my program. Here are the steps that I know that I must take to stay sober.
- Pray and meditate when I wake up. I ask God for help and his will every morning.
- Call my sponsor. Even if I’m just checking in, this is a practice of honesty and humility. When she knows where my head is at, it’s easier for her to call me out when I’m acting on my own will.
- Make a meeting every day. Some days I just wanna relax after work but I always end up feeling better after meetings anyway.
- Doing good for others. Whether it’s through sponsorship or just being a good person, I try to make it a point to be of service throughout the day.
- I write gratitude lists, and this isn’t for everyone but I have found that this is one of the most simple and humbling things I do each day.
- Pray before bed – on my knees, thanking my Higher Power for keeping me sober.
Again, this is just my own day to day routine, and so far, it hasn’t let me down. All in all, it takes up about 3 hours tops, and out of 24 hours, 3 ain’t so bad.
“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”
– The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
The dangers of complacency in sobriety are real and can happen to anyone, but they are easily avoided by a day to day dedication to ourselves, to others, and to our higher power. Stick with that, and we will never fall short.
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