They say you have to make your recovery the number one priority in your life, no matter what, or you will relapse. Not might relapse, you will eventually relapse. Prioritizing your recovery is absolutely essential in order to keep it. Recovery must come first, or we risk losing anything we put in front of it. The risk of loss is due to the elevated chance of relapse if our recovery is not our #1 priority. With relapse comes the risk of losing everything. That is what they call hitting bottom.

Early Words of Wisdom

I was told by a mentor of mine early on in my own recovery that “if you don’t work this program like your life depends on it, then you will drink again!”

Now for a hard-headed alcoholic, the first five times I heard that, I bucked. I knew I didn’t want to drink again, even at 2 months sober simply due to almost dying previously due to my drinking. So, I thought, nay I knew, I was good and didn’t have to take those words seriously.

Then I saw close friends relapse. Guys and girls I got sober with, hung out and went to meetings with – but who didn’t appear to take recovery seriously, who didn’t “work this program like their depends on it” they all fell victim again to this disease. Whether it be by stalling on step work or putting a new job, church or even sexual partner as a priority ahead of their recovery. Honestly, it’s not my place to tell their story, all I know is what I saw. I saw those who didn’t take it seriously, one by one they relapsed.

They either made it back and worked the program for real, or continued to do cycles in and out of recovery – each time looking more miserable. Some didn’t return to sobriety, while others we had funerals for. It is the sad fact of this disease of addiction, people will die.

Can’t Gift Someone the Willingness

One of my best friends during my early recovery is one of those folks I was referring to. While amidst a particularly bad relapse of his, I was offering to take him somewhere for help. He declined, stating “I just wish I had the willingness you and (our other friends) have.” I love that dude, I wish there was something I could do to gift him the willingness to live a better life. A willingness to seek a more beautiful way to live (sobriety is beautiful, don’t let anyone tell you different). But I can’t gift willingness, no one can. Meanwhile, I’ll keep saving a seat in the meetings for my friend, and do what I can to help others.

…like your life depends on it!

Because it does! If not for those sage words, I may not be here. In recovery, we do need to work the program like our lives depend on it, because it does! Jails, institutions and death isn’t just some cliche people in recovery say to scare newcomers. Those are what are literally waiting for any true alcoholic or addict who stays relapsed. One who refuses to take the program seriously.

One of the ways I first compartmentalized this “work the program like your life depends on it” notion, was to realize – I had nothing to lose by trying! I was already at my bottom. I literally had nothing to lose from going all-in on recovery and just seeing what happened. Almost seven years later and I am still going all-in because life just keeps getting better. You can have that same experience. It all starts with the willingness to work towards your recovery.

This blog was written from the experience and perspective of one alcoholic/addict with long term recovery.

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