Someone once said that all we have to do to get sober and stay sober is to change our entire life. Here are the major areas that all addicts will need to change in order to avoid relapse and all of the problems that it brings:
First, we must change our old using friends and replace them with sober friends who are working the 12 steps under the direction and guidance of a sponsor. There is a wise saying that says, “Stick with the winners”. I say this because there are losers in the 12 step programs who are not working the steps, do not have a sponsor and are just showing up at meetings, and sometimes treating the meetings as a dating club. Beware of them, because they can pull you down, even tempt you to use chemicals and they are predators.
You may know using friends that you went to grade school with and have known all of your life. If you want to get sober and stay sober, they need to go. In fact, any friend who is still using cannot be a part of your new life. I had to cut several of my so called, “friends” from my life because they were pulling me back into the insanity and pain that relapse and active addiction always bring us.
We cannot have our cake and eat it too. Sacrifices must be made in who we surround ourselves with and who we choose to call our real friends. Expect “push-back” from old using friends. They may not want to let you go and may aggressively try to tempt you to get high with them, so that they can bring you back into their circle. Think about the pros and cons of maintaining a relationship with them. Ask yourself the question, even to the slightest degree, could this person threaten my sobriety now or in the future?
When we get sober, we are starting our life all over again. We are new people and we need new friends. When we first get sober, we are also extremely vulnerable to temptation and the suggestions and influence of other people. In the beginning of my new life of sobriety, I surrounded myself with sober friends who were actively working the steps, had good sponsors and were winners. If you surround yourself with good sober people, there will be no room for bad people to come into your life.
So far we have talked about changing our friends. The other potential threat to our sobriety is geography. Where we used to hang out may no longer be safe for us if we want to get sober and stay sober. For me, it is not a great idea to go to a bar to buy a coke. I can buy a coke at a place that does not serve alcohol and where active addicts do not hang out. If there is a party where alcohol is being served and perhaps marijuana and other drugs, well that is just not an intelligent place for me to be. There are certain neighborhoods in Chicago that I cannot go to because the temptation to go visit old “friends” and “show them how good I am doing” is a complete set up for relapse. We need to think about the risk and what the consequences will be if we relapse. Is it worth it to put ourselves in harms way?
The third category is “things”. If I have a three foot bong in my house, eventually I may use it. We need to get rid of objects like pipes, coke mirrows, razor blades and all of the toys of our using days. They are relapses waiting to happen. Remember, we are new people with a new life, and the old life must die, so that we can live.