Today is Labor Day in the United States, so most people I know are taking the day off and relaxing. They’re going to meet up with family and friends and enjoy themselves before going back to the grind tomorrow. Unfortunately, it’s a rainy day, so grilling out is probably off the table, but there are still plenty of fun things to do inside. I have the day off from work too, so I wanted to sit down and write this blog about the work I’ve been doing.
In my experience, the difference between the people who make it out of addiction and build a better life, and the people who are in and out, getting some sober time only to relapse and start over again, is work. They say “meeting makers make it,” and I find that to be true. I’d even take it a step further and say that the people who make meetings, work a program, and do whatever it takes to stay sober, every single day—those are the ones who make it. If you think it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. Successful, long-term recovery means hard work. There’s no way around it.
My own experience backs this up. I was one of those people who just couldn’t “get it.” I wasn’t able to stay sober on my first, or even my tenth, try. I would get clean, get myself to a few meetings, start to feel good again, put a few dollars together… then go back out and go back to square one. It even progressed over time. At one point, I managed to put almost a year together. Things were really starting to look good for me. I was getting my whole life back. At least, until it fell apart again.
Eventually, I got sick of it. Getting sober and relapsing was almost as bad as active addiction—maybe even worse. I had to live with the knowledge that I was taking what I had been given and throwing it away, that I was going back out again even though I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing. It’s hard to enjoy a high when you feel so guilty about it. So I decided to put in the work and finally make a real effort.
What did that mean for me? It meant consistence and discipline. I set myself a minimum of one meeting per week—and often went above and beyond that. Whenever I didn’t feel like going, I asked myself if that would have stopped me from getting high. The answer was always no, so I went anyway. It also meant being there for others, after others had been there for me.
Maybe the best decision I made was staying in sober living and getting a job in the community. Instead of moving out and getting my own place, I decided to stay on as the house mentor, and help others who are going through what I did. It reminds me every day of where I came from and how I got here. I also got a job helping others going through addiction, and this act of service does more to keep me sober and happy than anything else. My life today is better than it ever was, and I know exactly why: because I’m finally putting in the work.