Member Experience #5: How I Maintain My Abstinence

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I’ve been in OA for over 34 years and have had my share of relapses during that time. I now have 18 years of back-to-back abstinence, and I’d like to share how I am maintaining that. Each relapse reinforced that I had to be willing “to go to any length” to recover.

First, I need to say that “God does for me what I cannot do for myself.” This clearly means that I need to maintain contact with my HP through daily “quiet times,” prayers that I can say throughout the day, which come to mind quickly (i.e. the Third Step Prayer and the Seventh Step Prayer) and practicing conscious contact with God. I also silently say to myself different “slogans” that have helped me through the years to get through the “ups and downs”: “This too shall pass”; Live and let live”; First things first”, etc. These help me to regain perspective and provide comfort if I’m troubled or distressed throughout the day.

I have worked the Steps through many different processes…and personally, have found that the Big Book Step Study Process has been the most thorough and “life transforming” for me. I was able to thoroughly look at my part in my resentments and specifically do the “turnarounds” that helped me see exactly what had triggered the resentment. The “turnaround” piece of the inventory has provided me with a tool I can use when new potential resentments arise.

I also work the program like my life depends on it…because I really feel it does. I have a “cunning, baffling and powerful” disease and left to my own devices, the addiction always wins. When, in the past, I worked the program with “half measures”, I found that I would always eat again.

I commit my food daily to my sponsor and also have sponsees who do the same with me. I try to make an effort to call my sponsor if I have a food change. Although I have a flexible food plan (no sugar or alcohol), I also find it very important to commit my specific food plan daily including the amounts, which I weigh and measure when I’m home.

I attend meetings…. I try to go to three a week but sometimes only make two. I will supplement with more phone calls if I’m unable to go to three meetings. Phone calls are important because they keep me connected with others who are walking this path and gets me out of myself and my own problems. I also do service in other ways and find this is an essential part of my recovery. As the Big Book states: “Nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.” I’ve done service on all levels (local, region and world service), and I find that the members of OA who give the most service generally stay in recovery. I try to say “yes” when asked to do anything in OA, if possible.

Another important part of my program is to practice gratitude! This, for me, means specifically identifying at least three things a day that I’m grateful for. This really helps me keep a positive perspective and decreases negativity and depression.