50 Things Every Alcoholic Should Know

130711 cravings4This book, Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down: 50 Things Every Alcoholic and Addict In Early Recovery Should Know , is a light-hearted yet important guide for you.  It’s deceptively simple, but I’ve recommended it to many patients over the years, and believe it has contributed to their staying clean and sober through that critical time.

As a chronic relapser, the author sought out books and memoirs written by other alcoholics, hoping that by arming herself with information, she would be able to finally stay sober and escape the pattern she’d been living.

Sure, I could stop drinking, but I couldn’t stay stopped. I had spent the last few years in a vicious cycle: two or three months sober, followed by a bout of drinking, then intense guilt, remorse, and hopelessness before the whole thing would start over again. My life was a nightmare. The way I saw it, I had two options: get sober for good, or kill myself…the absence of alcohol [in after-life] was the only reason I could come up with to not kill myself.

The problem she found was that, newly sober, her concentration was too shattered to follow anything complicated, so she wrote a simple book amenable so someone “with the attention span of a gnat.” She starts with the first 30 days, noting that this is the most difficult part:

It’s not so much that we are “in recovery” as hanging on for dear life. During this first stretch, the obsession to use can feel like it will never leave us. In fact, I felt as though nothing short of a miracle could make it go away.

The chapter on “staying stopped” is deeply relatable, and aptly describes hitting bottom:I realized I was on very shaky ground because every time I got drunk I wanted to kill myself. I didn’t want to die when I was sober; it was only when I was under the influence. That’s when I had the failed suicide attempt. As low as that moment was, at least it made me aware of the true scope of my problem – I knew if I didn’t stop drinking for good, it would only be a matter of time before I succeeded in ending my life.

The author also explains the importance of going to AA/NA meetings:

I was out of options, and out of money, so I decided to try the one thing that I’d been avoiding for so long – a Twelve-Step program. Sure, I’d been to a few recovery meetings in the past, but I never actually listened to what those crazy people said, and I certainly never did anything they suggested. But sometimes sitting at the bottom can finally make you willing to try anything…

The author closes with the following “promise” of sobriety:

While each day doesn’t start out like a Disney movie, it doesn’t end like a horror movie either (which was usually the case when I was using)…The best part is, I’ve learned we don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to become Twelve-Step gurus, holding all the answers and quoting verbatim from recovery books.

 Good advice, no matter how long you’ve been sober.