Archive for January, 2013

Putting myself in-check:

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Click here to listen to audio version of this article.

(01/23/13)

It’s no surprise that I come off as an arrogant, heartless prick. Why? Because I’m very proud of what I have done for myself—I took away the power that alcohol had over me and I put the power back into my own hands. Many people were considerate and patient with me along the way. Many people opened their hearts and spent time with me. I in turn opened my heart and my mind to them. I spend time with them and I am grateful for them. But I still did this myself by exhibiting my own self-control. I can be proud of that and you can be proud of yourself as well.

And I don’t have time to waste on useless, life sucking acquaintances. I don’t like hanging around drunk people and I avoid those who say they are “powerless.” I prefer to associate with people who are strong, powerful and want to accomplish things in life. Me and my friends don’t tell each other that we’re powerless, we empower one another. Yet in all of my arrogance, bravado and self-pride I am still humble about my sobriety. I put myself in-check when I see or have to deal with drunken people. I remind myself:

  • I am no better as a person.
  • I was once that person.
  • I also felt powerless.
  • I almost believed that I must continue to feel powerless.

I don’t have to forgive a drunken person’s behavior. I don’t have to feel sorry for them, sad for them or even try to offer words of wisdom (it’s never wise to try talking with a drunken person about their drinking when they’re drunk). I don’t try to change a person who feels they are powerless. I try to help them see their own power and become strong in their own way.

The experience of talking with someone who feels powerless or is an active drinker serves as a reminder that I never want to be like that again. I must get my mind (and often my physical self), away from them and back to a place that’s best for me. You see, I have work to do. I have things that I want to accomplish. I have healthy, strong and productive friends I wish to stay in contact with. I don’t need to have life and enthusiasm sucked out of me by drunkards and the powerless.

Considering all of the things I just said may lead you to think that I’m a self-centered, arrogant prick. That’s your choice. Then don’t hang out with me or people like me. Yet with all my pride and bravado, I still know that I am fallible and could slip back into drunken uselessness if I allow myself to ever feel powerless over alcohol. Oh sure, once alcohol is in me I would have no power over it, that’s why I exhibit the power to not allow it into my system. That’s keeping myself in-check.

You and I never know when we’ll be in a situation where we’ll have to deal with a drunk in our midst. Some environments you can count on it; bars, Niteclubs, public sporting events, etc. But there are other times when you just never know. It could be at a wedding reception, a family gathering or a company picnic. It’s at those moments when it’s good to keep yourself in-check. Feel good about yourself, be proud of your own self-control, but be humble in knowing that you are no better—you just don’t drink.

Another way of keeping myself in-check is to refrain from preaching to others who aren’t interested about sobriety. I am more than willing to talk about it or offer help, but only when someone desires it or asks for help. You might question, “Well, you spend a lot of time writing about sobriety, aren’t you being contradictory?” Fair question. Sobriety is the subject matter of my website, that’s the topic of this article. But this is my avocation. I do this when time permits. I will consciously make or schedule time for writing on sobriety, but my life does not revolve around “spreading the word of sobriety.” (Just read some of my other articles. Most touch on or show relevance to sobriety but they cover life in general.) In fact, my life doesn’t revolve solely around sobriety. I am always aware that I must pay attention to my sobriety, but I have a life that I want to enjoy. For me, sober is just part of living a normal life as a non-drinker.

Believe me; I take my sobriety very seriously. But I still want to enjoy life. I will not live my life based on what a sponsor tells me I can or can’t do or where I can or can’t go. If I want to go bowling or go to a Niteclub I will. If I’m not having fun there (for whatever reason), I’ll leave. If I want to drink an N/A beer I will. I’m not going to feel guilty about it, apologize for it or reset my sobriety date for it. This is my deal between me and myself. I don’t have to answer to anyone else or live to anyone else’s standards but my own.

If I go to a club or a public place where drinking is the main attraction, and I’m feeling repulsed or “above” those who are drinking, I’ll leave. Then I must ask myself, “Why did you go there in the first place? Did you expect people to not be drinking or be drunk in a bar?” And I will not base what I want in life or what I want to do around some advertising message. Keeping myself in-check is the act of thinking for myself and mentally reminding myself that living a sober life will in fact be different than leading the life of a drinker.

Another way of putting myself in-check is to ask: “Do I really need to do this or go to this event?” I might feel as if I’ll be missing out on something fun or exciting if I don’t go to a certain party, club, sporting event, concert, whatever. For those of you who are sober and single (this includes me), it can be a struggle. We want to go out and mingle, socialize and have fun. We feel lonely if we don’t. But that’s when I put myself in-check. That’s when I must remind myself that even a “normal life” as a sober person will be different. I must think about what’s best for me and the goals that I have in life.

It sounds crazy because earlier I said that my life doesn’t revolve solely around sobriety yet here I am doing a blog article on living sober. Again, that’s what this website is about. And in the grand scheme of my life I live my sobriety, but I don’t live to preach sobriety. This keeps me in-check. My fulltime job is to run my own life, happily as a non-drinker. I can offer someone help if they want it, I can extend a hand and you can lean on me if you need to. But I will not chase you, force you, or carry you. I can only do so much and you can only do so much. And pushing sobriety or some program on someone else doesn’t make you or me any more sober.

Here’s my point on this: If you don’t like being around drinkers or find yourself getting mad at them or tempted to preach to them or feeling superior over them, step back and get yourself in-check. Your family or living conditions may require you to be around a drunk. That’s a separate discussion from this one. Stepping out to confront someone about their drinking or offering unsolicited advice is a separate discussion as well. I’m talking about us former drunks who might get feelings of repulsion, superiority or a desire to preach to others. Let’s just focus on our own sobriety and keep ourselves in-check. Why not let others, who you feel need help, see you live your sobriety? That’s just my suggestion. I’m not preaching.

When does this get easier?

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Click here to listen to audio version of this article.

(01/20/13)

Have you ever asked yourself these questions: “When does it get easier? Why this now? When will this bullshit end?” Those questions come up quite a bit during the early stages of sobriety, but if you think about it, those questions come up about a lot of things in life. If you have children you’ve probably asked yourself those questions when they were going through their “terrible twos,” then when they got a bit older and as they approached adolescence, then it was their teen years… “When does this get easier?”

I have heard many people say, “I’m having a harder time with sobriety now than when I first quit.” I believe it can help YOU if you think about and think out what the exact difficulties are. You may get a clearer picture of what bothers you and what may want to do about it and what would be best for you to make it better.

Sobriety and ensuing sober dilemmas are constantly changing. Your habits, hobbies, activities, recreation and possibly your social circle may have changed. The “daily” routine starts to become easier, but then comes your college buddy’s wedding reception (I’ve never been to a “dry” wedding reception), the summer picnic, the annual golf outing with friends. You’re dumped into the middle of a dilemma. “Do I have a drink just this one time? Do I say that I have/had a drinking problem? Do I even need to explain myself? How can I just act normal?” This is a sober dilemma.

The truth is that it’s not always easy to live a normal life in a world that often revolves around and actually glamorizes drinking. There will always be ever-changing dilemmas that come with living sober.

When you first sober up it might just be nice to feel good physically (no hangover). Then you get used to that and a new dilemma crops up—boredom. Then you get through that by making goals and working towards your goals when another dilemma hits—frustration. You have goals, you have a plan, you know what to do, you do the things you should, but nothing’s coming together or falling into place… “When does this get easier?”

From my own experiences and through talking with thousands of other former drunks, it takes a matter of time—months and years—until sobriety becomes “a little easier.” But it only becomes easier in a matter of small degrees. As an individual changes and evolves in their habits, actions and activities, they are less exposed to temptation and develop sober behaviors. Their interests and activities may still expose them to drinking: i.e., golfing, fishing, public sporting events, etc. They have grown accustomed to enjoying these activities without drinking. But they are always aware that they could slide back into old habits with one drink. That one drink at that one instance may not do it. They may have a drink and then feel regret and say, “What did I do that for? That was dangerous. I’ll never do that again,” and that’s the end of it. But once we give ourselves permission to “slip” we have a tendency to keep handing out permission slips until we’re right back to where we were.

So when does it get easier? I wish I had a factual, tangible answer for you. But I can tell you this: The changes and the timeframes are different for each one of us. There are definitive dates and turning points in life; a death, an illness, marriage, divorce, a birth, whatever. But once that specific event has occurred on that specific date, it all becomes evolutionary. I’m not talking in the strict Darwinian sense of physical evolution—I’m talking about the ever-changing unfolding of life. And sobriety is evolutionary, it’s ever-changing.

I know that I struggled (for too long at my own doing), waiting for something magical to happen. New sober dilemmas kept popping up. I kept thinking, “When does it get easier? When will this bullshit end?” That’s when I realized that there will always be bullshit, struggles and dilemmas in my life. Some of the struggles are problems that always existed, I just never saw them or addressed them when I was drinking, so they felt NEW. What happened at that point was only mildly magical—I found calm in a level of acceptance that I will ALWAYS have struggles. This didn’t change facts but I could accept, handle and use facts for my advancement. In mathematical terms; the more I do and experience in life the more dilemmas I will encounter. If I do fewer things and work at fewer goals I will end up with fewer disappointments, but fewer experiences and fewer joys as well. Life is an ever-changing series of dilemmas and temptations. Personally, I’m glad it’s that way. It keeps life exciting.

So to answer my own question of: “When does it get easier?” It doesn’t necessarily get easier, it just gets different.”

Why do I make such a big deal out of goals?

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Click here to listen to audio version of this blog article.

(01/18/13)

Without specific goals you’ll likely be pushed and pulled around by life. You’ll end up having to choose or accept whatever is tossed your way or whatever is left over. It’s better to make goals and make decisions before decisions are forced upon you. Here’s why goals are so important: When you are thrust into a situation you didn’t ask for or plan for, you will be able to maintain a sense of calm and not react by drinking this current problem away. Your goals will get you to think, “Okay, I don’t like this situation—but it is what it is—so how can I make this situation work for me to stay in line with my goals?”

I have found this to be true in my own life. If I don’t have plans, goals and make lists, I’ll flitter along or be influenced by the problem or impulse of the moment. That’s when the temptation to drink can strike. Even if I am sitting around doing nothing or distracted with the impulse of the moment, I know that I have a detailed plan waiting for me—a plan that I have devised for myself. This is my safety net when temptation strikes. I can look at my goals and my action plan and refocus my thinking on what I want to construct in my life.

Goals are scary because they require thought—personal thought—you have to assess your values in life and realistically evaluate facts and risk. One of fact is that you won’t always reach your goal or attain what you strive for, that can hurt. Thinking about goals and working towards them is time consuming, mentally taxing and often unfair—but so is life.

Writing out your goals—and an action plan to achieve those goals—requires a commitment. I’ve found that people don’t write out goals because they are afraid of failure. “What do you mean failure?” you say. Well, if you write down a goal and you don’t achieve it you might mentally feel like a failure. This is a natural psychological condition, but it’s a false and self-defeating condition. Only getting part way to a goal is still a success, and you must consciously remind yourself of that.

On the other hand, if you don’t write out your goals along with detailed plans, and you never achieve your plans, you can mentally feel that you haven’t failed at anything. Or you can tell yourself, and others that the goal wasn’t possible in the first place. Anybody can say, “I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that…” You know what? You ain’t gonna do shit. Tell me HOW you’re going to do the things you say you will. Imagine how you’d feel when somebody asks you: “So how are you going to buy that car?” And you pull out a piece of paper and read off exactly how you’re going to do it. People will freak out.

So be exact in your goal. You can’t just say, “I want to lose weight, be rich and be happy.” All of these goals can be accomplished but you need to write out an action plan and establish reference points. This is where I differ from the touted book; The Secret. You can’t just ask, believe and receive. Looking at pictures of cars or happy couples won’t get you married to the right person and it won’t put a brand new BMW in your garage. Pictures and visualizing are great, it can improve your feelings and your mindset, but you still have to cognitively and physically do something about your goals. Let’s go over the goals I mentioned with some questions. Then you might get an idea of how you can think through your own goals and lay out your own action plan.

I want to lose weight: How much weight do you want to lose? 10 pounds? 20 pounds? 50 pounds? Over what period of time? How will you do it? What physical limitations do you have? Can you join a gym? Can you find a workout partner? Maybe you just need to cut down your serving size by 10 or 20%?

I want to be rich: How much money do you honestly need to be rich? Do you want to have money in a bank? In stocks? In bonds? In real-estate? Even if you can clearly say, “I want to make a million dollars,” how will you do it? Over what timeframe? How much or what are you willing to invest? It can be done, but you need to establish reference points. Do you want to have that amount in assets or just earn that amount? Most of us earn that amount of money over our lifetime but we also happen to spend everything we earn.

I want to be happy: That’s a great goal but happy is different from pleasure. Pleasure is derived from finite experiences, whereas “happy” is an emotion. So I would ask, “What will make you feel happy?” Will it be money? Then how much? Will it be a relationship? What kind and with whom? Maybe just having some goals and working towards goals will make you feel happy?

When you write out your goals you are activating your mind, imagination and creativity. You actually see the goal and the process for its achievement written out in front of you. You will unconsciously become the owner of your goal. And what happens when you’re the owner of something? You protect it and you don’t want anybody to take it away from you—it’s YOURS. When you see YOUR goals and your action plans written out in front of you that’s when the philosophies of The Secret can come into play.

For instance, if you write down: “I will stay sober for 30 days.” And then you write under that goal how you’re going to do it—what you will do and what you will not do—you have now made a commitment. You put that piece of paper up on your refrigerator, you make a smaller version and put it in your pocket and look at it during the day. You then visualize—you see yourself—doing the things you said you would do to stay sober.

Goals can be ridiculously farfetched, as long as they’re YOUR goals. If you set low goals your achievements will be just as low. So go ahead and be radical and ridiculous in your goals. Some goals will be unattainable for varied reasons, some will be poor ideas. So what? List them all. When you can see them all in front of you, then you can make better and realistic choices as to which goals are valuable and decide if you want to pursue a certain goal.

I think it’s good to list dumb goals. Once you see it in front of you it’s no longer a fairytale. You might realize that it’s a dumb goal and you can get it out of your mind. Here’s what I mean by “dumb” goals. There were a lot of things that I thought I wanted in life. Once I wrote the goal out, followed by what would be required to gain it, what would have to be sacrificed and what the final outcome would be, I realized I didn’t want that particular goal. It saved me from spending energy working and pining for something that wouldn’t have been a benefit to me. Knowing what you don’t want is just as important—if not more important—than knowing what you do want.

Writing out radical and farfetched goals will open up your mind to see alternatives. Your goal may be to buy a Porsche, but the money isn’t available and a Porsche wouldn’t be practical for your family. But an Infinity G-30 looks like a Porsche, costs less and will work as a practical vehicle. This is an alternative that you may not have considered if you didn’t initially write out that you would like a Porsche. Think wildly and consider all alternatives

Your goals should be things that YOU want to strive for. Even if it’s a superficial goal or you want to improve your social status, it should be YOUR goal, not someone else’s. Ideally your goals should be aligned with the people you care about and for their enjoyment as well. If the outcome will be harmful in some way, you may want to reassess the goal. (Example: Working so many hours to become wealthy that you forsake your time with your family. You end up being absent from your kids, then you feel that they’re ungrateful for all the time you spent working. You accomplish the monetary goal but the process creates problems.) So think out why you want a certain goal and what you might have to do or sacrifice to get it. Remember that there will always be an exchange that will take place. You may exchange time, money or something else to obtain a goal.

I believe that you will be pleasantly surprised, if not stunned by what you will accomplish in a week, two weeks or a month. If you’ve never done something like this, start with small goals. Watch and observe how you self-direct into accomplishing them. Practice this and you’ll get better at it. Then you can expand to bigger and bigger goals. Anything wonderful or lasting that I have ever accomplished in life is not attributable to my own skills or talents. I attribute any successes I may enjoy in life to the fact that I establish goals.

Goals are an outward reflection of your self-discipline and self-discipline is part of sobriety. I believe that establishing goals will help you make the best out of your sobriety and keep you busy when you think you’re bored. This is worth your time, thought and effort. It’s also worth risking not reaching the exact goal that you write down. Goals, like sobriety, are an evolutionary process. Please take the time to write out your goals. You might discover a whole new higher power residing deep inside of you that you never knew you had.

OK fine, it’s a disease. So what does that change?

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Click here to listen to audio of this article.

(01/08/13)

Some people don’t agree with my belief that alcoholism isn’t a disease. In fact some vehemently criticize me or insult me because I don’t believe it’s a disease. (Just look at the comments on my YouTube videos.) I could understand their criticism if I never had a drinking problem, but I did—for 30 years! I got drunk daily and fucked up plenty of things in my life as a result of my own actions. I smoked pot daily for over 25 years and did cocaine nonstop for 6 months. I also have a history of misusing pharmaceuticals, psychedelics and other narcotics. Did I mention cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco? So I do know what it’s like to have a dependency, if not a full-blown addiction, to alcohol and other substances.

I was fully aware that alcohol would get me drunk. I was fully cognizant that drugs would get me high. That’s why I drank and did drugs—because I liked getting drunk and high—I did it because I wanted to. I wouldn’t consider that a disease. I consider that pleasure seeking. But getting drunk and high every day eventually became a habit and I grew a dependency on it. True, I didn’t like all the negative consequences that were coming with my overuse and dependency, but I still liked getting drunk and high. I’m honest enough to say that I miss the buzz part but I don’t miss the bullshit that came with it. And all the bullshit was by my own doing. So I made the choice to stop.

So let me ask you, is dependency the same as a disease? Is addiction the same as a disease? A lot of people disagree with me, they say things like, “Look at all the people who die from alcoholism and drugs. They can’t stop themselves from doing it. How can you say this isn’t a disease?”

It’s unfortunate that so many people die from alcohol and drug misuse. It’s even sadder that innocent people are often drawn into or are the recipients to the bad behavior of the abuser. Yet in most cases, not all but most, it’s still a choice to continue the overuse and to not stop, seek help or pursue treatment. Often it isn’t until something tragic happens and then abstinence is forced upon the abuser.

Just by calling something a “disease” doesn’t change the affects or the cause. It doesn’t change the various treatment processes. The individual must still actively participate towards their own wellbeing. This is why I say that the use of alcohol or recreational drugs is a choice and so is the decision to stop using and participate in your own treatment.

Let’s look at some other diseases where people have a choice. You might not like my examples, but I’ll give you some: Lung cancer is a disease yet people choose to continue to smoke. Obesity is a disease yet people choose to continue to overeat or eat unhealthy foods. People contract all kinds of illnesses but they choose not to receive treatment or surgery because of their religious beliefs or some other belief. It is their own free will to choose.

If alcoholism were to be classified as a disease it would place some financial responsibility on health insurers, but it wouldn’t change the number of people who continue in their unhealthy drinking habits and it certainly wouldn’t change drunk driving laws. I can’t imagine that the general public would make drunk driving legal if alcoholism were considered a disease. Can you imagine hearing an attorney in court saying, “My client Bob here has the disease of alcoholism, so he shouldn’t be ticketed for drunk driving or held responsible for running those people down. He can’t help himself, he has a disease.” I don’t think the Judge or the general public would buy that story. Bob would still be held personally responsible for drinking in the first place. (I’ve interviewed defense attorneys and they all agree that alcoholism can’t be used to expunge an illegal act, but it can be used in determining a sentence. You can see the complete article about this at my website.)

Another rebuttal that I get is, “People try to quit drinking but they can’t stop. How can you say that recovery is as easy as just not drinking or not doing drugs? This is a disease!”

I never said it was easy, but the answer is simple. Easy and simple are what people desire, but the two; easy and simple don’t always go together. It’s not that easy to just stop drinking or to just stop taking drugs. It hurts—physically, mentally and emotionally. Tough decisions must be made. A person must forego tempting offers and doing the easy thing. The easy thing is to say, “Fuck it. I can’t stand this shit. I might as well sit here and get drunk.” That’s easy. You sit there, get drunk and forget about the tough part of staying sober. Or you sit there, get drunk and cry, asking yourself, “Why did I do this again?” Staying sober is not all that easy. But it truly is simple. If you don’t pour the shit into your own mouth it can’t get you drunk.

For the sake of this particular argument, let’s say that I agree that alcoholism is a disease. The alcoholic still has a choice in what THEY are going to do about it. They can choose to stay locked in their house and never venture out into social environments. They can choose to not go to bars, parties or family gatherings. Is this fair? NO it’s not fair. But if you had extreme asthma or some bronchial or respiratory disorder you would have to limit your exposure to the outdoors and certain unhealthy environments. If you have allergies to cats or dogs you can’t go where they’re present or play with them. So if you have the disease of alcoholism—where you have no ability to control yourself when booze is present—then you must do what asthmatics and people with pet allergies must do; limit or eliminate your exposure to the things that cause you problems. This is self-preservation of your health. Here’s a simple way to put it; some people can’t play with dogs because of their disease and some people can’t play with booze because of their disease.

“But I don’t go out. I drink at home.” Then clear your house or apartment of the contagion of your disease. Dump all booze from your house and don’t stop to get any on your way home from work or school. (If you’re allergic to dogs you don’t stop and get a puppy on your way home from work do you? What, you say, “Okay, maybe I won’t be allergic to this one.”) Here’s where you might say, “This sounds great Mark. But they sell beer, wine and liquor at the grocery store. I have to walk past that temptation when I go there and sometimes I can’t help myself and I buy it.” Look, they sell roach and rat poison at the grocery store too. Unless you’ve got roaches and rats you’re trying to kill you don’t put that in your cart. So don’t put booze in your cart.

Is this easy? I’ll be the first to admit—NO, it’s not easy. And it isn’t always that much fun either. But it truly is simple to put your disease into remission—don’t pour booze into your own mouth. And part of your disease control regimen may require completely staying away from any and all tempting situations. I wish this would be fairer and I wish it would be easy. I never claimed that stopping destructive drinking and living sober will be easy. But who knows, it may become easy for you, once you’ve cleared your body and your mind of all substances.

We’re all equal:

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Click here to listen to audio version of this article

(01/04/13)

Getting drunk and growing a dependency on alcohol isn’t special. Anybody can do it. Alcohol is an equal opportunity destroyer. It doesn’t matter what race you are, what religion, your financial status, political preference or sexual preference. Intelligence level doesn’t matter either. You can be a shining genius or dumber than dog shit and both individuals will get drunk if they drink enough booze. So we’re all equal when it comes to alcohol.

This realization has been helpful at ridding me of my guilt. I realized that I’m not an awful person just because I drank too much. Some of the things I did while in my drinking days were awful and it was awful that I continued to destroy myself, but having (or having had) a drinking problem doesn’t make you an awful person. I’m probably an awful person regardless, but YOU are not.

The realization of this equality—as drunks—sparked me to ponder another area in which we’re all equal and that particular realization is what has helped me learn to make the best and the most out of my sobriety. This is what I realized:

We are all born equally stupid. We all come into this world with no knowledge, skills or talents. As we get older we may recognize (or others may recognize within us) specific innate attributes, but we all have the same equal right to educate ourselves.

Now you may argue this point with me. You may say that you were born into a poor family and your parents didn’t have the money to send you to college. There may be some other social, family or financial limitations that got in the way of you gaining an education. This may be true in your case. However, right now you’re reading this or listening to this on the internet and that means you already have certain literacy skills and you can use that internet connection to perform more discovery of knowledge. Knowledge that YOU can use to better your life or better the life of those you care about. Knowledge does not have to be gained exclusively through accredited higher schooling or college. I know some very wise and successful people who never attended college. I know some wonderful and brilliantly talented people who can barely read.

Many successful people have started with absolutely nothing in life or with odds stacked against them due to their social surroundings. Their success isn’t strictly financial. They may be successful as parents or as loving partners—they’ve built happy, healthy households. They become successful in these areas by always learning and expanding their knowledge, then putting their knowledge to use. They become the people we admire and wish to be like. We can be like them. And luck alone won’t do it. We need knowledge. As Louis Pasteur said; “Luck favors the prepared mind.”

I would like you to think about something for a moment. I would like you to think about the smart people you know. Think about smart people you admire. Think about smart people from history. People like Edison, Bell, Curie, Pasteur, Einstein, Borat (okay, maybe not Borat). Now consider that they all started at the same point you did in life, they were all born with NO knowledge. They didn’t know how to talk, speak or read. What they all did was they developed their hunger for learning. Some people have a higher capacity to understand and grasp certain disciplines, i.e. math, singing, music, sports, mechanics, philosophy, etc. They may have specific attributes which make some of these disciplines easier for them to grasp, but we all start with ZERO knowledge. I would also ask you to consider blind, deaf and mute people who have made great accomplishments in life. And guess what? They can be drunks too.

Here is the point behind this article: Alcohol is an equal opportunity destroyer and we all begin our lives with an equal level of ZERO knowledge. So make sobriety work for you. Use your clear, sober mind and begin building and expanding your knowledge base. Find out what subjects are interesting to you. And don’t just read or learn about the easy stuff. Look at subjects that are challenging to your mind. Then discover what innate attributes you have and make the best and the most out of your sobriety. And as I like to say, “Knowledge is power, but it’s not powerful until you use it.”

What sobriety WON’T do for you:

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Click here for audio version of this article.

(01/03/13)

Sorry to say this, but sobriety will not solve all of your problems. It won’t automatically make you skinny, wealthy, talented, pretty, friendly, lovable or happy. However (and here’s the good part), the clarity that comes along with sobriety will reveal opportunities for you to achieve those things, but YOU must still pursue those things yourself. You don’t just become a non-drinker, sit back and wait for stuff to come your way. YOU must become an active participant in making the best out of your sobriety.

What sobriety WILL do for you is help you to approach your problems, difficulties, struggles, goals, dreams, hopes and aspirations with a clear mind.

Sobriety in and of itself doesn’t guarantee shit. All you can count on from sobriety is that you’re not drunk. And that may be all you’re trying for—to not be drunk—and that’s fine because that may be all you want at this moment. You don’t have to become a new, special, wonderful person to be sober. You can be a sober asshole all you want. Becoming a loving and caring person or following certain steps will NOT make you any more sober. NOT DRINKING is what keeps you sober.

All those “pleasant” behavioral activities may help you develop into a better person, but that’s only if you want to. And I can’t assure you that all those other things like steps, behavioral changes and being a pleasant person will keep you from ever drinking again or wanting to drink, but it may make it easier to maintain your sobriety. Only YOU can keep YOU from drinking.

You may disagree with me and you are welcome to disagree with me. But honestly, how do I know what YOU want out of sobriety? How does anyone know—other than YOU—what YOU want, what will make YOUR sobriety fulfilling and help keep YOU sober? You can listen to others tell you how you should behave, how you should act and what you need to do to live a sober life. But only YOU can stay sober in your own skin and only YOU can decide on what is sober fulfillment for YOU. It’s good to listen to other people’s ideas on making the best of sobriety. But you will still be making your own choices, even if you follow someone else’s advice—you will be choosing to follow their advice.

When you simply just listen to ideas and recommendations on sobriety strategies you gain knowledge. With knowledge you will start thinking. You might decide to completely change how you behave. You might decide to pursue spiritual or religious enlightenment. You might decide to become fully involved and active in your local AA group. But again, those things will not make you MORE sober. NOT DRINKING is the only thing that keeps you sober.

I can confidently say this: By living sober you will be in a mentally clearer position to think about what will be fulfilling for you. With that sober thinking you can then begin making action plans and working towards your goals. Living sober doesn’t guarantee that you will get everything or anything you want out of it. But I will tell you this much, and this is from my own personal experience. Sobriety will present opportunities and conditions that you never expected. Some of these opportunities and conditions will be better than you ever imagined. But you will have to make use of these opportunities.

Sobriety will also bring a lack of things. This lack can be misleading and your memory can confuse this lack with boredom or sadness. Your memory may confuse past drunken drama and anxiety into thinking that you’re now missing out on excitement. Yes, some of the wild excitement will be gone. I did a lot of wild and exciting shit when I was drunk that I would never have done as a sober person. But most of it was dangerous, stupid and had bad ramifications.

I, and you, can stay sober without appeasing someone else’s “guide” or “standards” to sobriety. Sober means ZERO alcohol or recreational drugs in the body. That’s it. All the other stuff: working steps, praying, expanding your knowledge, furthering your education, developing relationships, reconstructing your life, whatever you want, is all exclusively up to you.

First and foremost you must control your own hands. If you don’t pick up a drink with your own hands and pour it into your own mouth it can’t get you drunk. Once you have sober clarity, then you can really start working on all the other things that are important to you.

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