No, the price of freedom from active addiction is certainly not free. Had I been capable of understanding the true price that would be paid for my recovery from active addiction, I may have been spared the countless demoralizing relapses I suffered. I do hope those in early recovery who have stumbled upon this reading will be able to hear the message that there is a price we have had to pay for the restoration of our sanity. The path is simple, but it is not easy. Think of the journey as an uphill climb. In order to get to the top, you need to keep climbing.
In my early attempts to gain ground on the path that our AA forefathers spoke of, I made some treacherous mistakes. My conception of “How it Works” was bogus. These wrong perceptions later proved to be my demise, and nearly cost me my life. In this short article, I will share some of the mistakes that I, and sadly others I have observed in my years of recovery, have made. I can attest that, “Rarely have I seen a person succeed who has thoroughly followed this path!”
In my introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous, I clearly heard the good people in the rooms state, “The only requirement for membership was the desire to stop drinking”. “Okay”, I thought “I have the desire to stop drinking.” Therefore, from my perception upon admission of my desire, I instantly became a member, right?! This membership was my safeguard, right?! Seriously, and sadly, I thought I was safe. My mistake was that I had been saved by God and the rooms of AA. I mistook being rescued for long-term sobriety.
Making matters worse, I proceeded into my misconceptions of the twelve steps. When I learned I needed to work the Steps, I interpreted that to mean I had to memorize them. I promptly bought a copy and memorized each step. For a burnt-out addict, it was a lot of work. When asked, “Have you began your twelve step work?” I proudly and emphatically proclaimed, “Indeed, I have.” I was going to meetings, and having a rather good time, at least as well as could be expected for not being high, and I had “worked the steps” so I was home free, right?!
Of course, in no time, I found Mr. Right in the rooms. He was a Recovery Knight, and coming from him, I really understood “How it Works”. Yes, I was convinced I was never going to drink or use again. I was attending meetings, working the steps, and held a strong belief my Higher Power had saved me from my addiction. I was so convinced that I was an “alcoholic” in recovery that I was able to “carry the message”. Proclaiming I was an alcoholic, and that my life had become manageable, made it so, right?! At least, until it wasn’t. Well, you readers already know the fallacy of my story and we need not venture further into my misconceptions.
Today, I look upon the beautiful faces of the young and old who are desperately seeking freedom from active addiction. I wish I could tell them how easy the path to recovery is going to be. I want them to believe in their dream of recovery. I want to be encouraging, and let newcomers know how magnificent life is! However, I have to reiterate that freedom from active addiction is not free. It takes a desperate willingness to do the work required. One should reflect carefully on the Big Books reading “We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start” (p.58).
Make no mistake that the reading “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program…” (p.58) is not say that the program is easy. It should be understood from the very start that those who are in the throes of addiction have a lot of work ahead of them. However, the promises will materialize if we work for them.