Three Things

Posted on March 29, 2016

Part 1: Commitment to Sobriety

By Jim (GJBXVI) Braastad

Green Carabine with White Ropes on Sky Background, Symbolizing the CommitmentWhile meandering around the SMART Recovery community website (SROL), I came across the following tidbit of information:

Scientific research shows that people who have recovered successfully (regardless of the method used) all have three things in common, those being: 

  • A commitment to sobriety; 
  • A change in lifestyle; and 
  • They prepare and plan for urges.

I believe the need for each these three things to be true. While each of them is important in the big picture, I think the “commitment to sobriety” is listed first for a reason.

Throughout life, we choose to make various commitments. In school, there are those who made commitments to academics, to the arts, to sports or any combination thereof. After graduation, some make commitments to higher education and go off to college, while others go out into the workforce and make commitments to their jobs.

When one marries, there is a commitment made to your spouse. When you have children, there is a commitment to family. To be successful in education and academics, one needs to be committed to learning. To be successful at work, one needs to be committed to their job. To have a successful marriage, you need to be committed to each other. The examples are almost endless and they all seem to share something. It seems that when there is success, there is also commitment.

Is it any different with this “sobriety” thing? I think not. I believe that unless one has an unadulterated, unwavering “commitment to sobriety”, it’s most likely not going to happen. Without the commitment, the other two things (change of lifestyle, prepare and plan for urges) would be moot points, having little to no overall significance. But when combined with the commitment, they become an integral part of the overall plan.

Like any decision involving a long-term commitment, making this commitment to a “commitment” can be extremely daunting and troublesome. This may be especially so for those who have not experienced any OMG consequences, those things that have been the major wake-up call to some of us. For if someone is carrying the belief, “Nothing really bad has happened, so what’s the problem???” it may be extremely difficult to take the first step and make the “commitment to sobriety”.

So what to do when such is the case? Dig out or prepare a Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA) and take a look at both the short and long-term disadvantages. How many “bad things” are listed? Three??? Five??? Ten??? More??? Individually, they may seem minor and easily dealt with. But what happens if you were to replace each item with the word “BAD” and add them up. How many individual “little bads” are there? When you have that number, ask yourself, “How many “little bads” does it take to make a BIG bad????”

If there is nothing individually that gives the incentive to make the commitment, combine all the little “bads” and make them into a BIG bad. For then, the decision to make a “commitment to sobriety” might be a bit easier to make.

What do you think? Make any sense?

Jim has been active in SMART since 2009 in various volunteer roles. He’s currently the Program Coordinator for the SMART Recovery Distance Training Program.

3 thoughts on “Three Things

  1. Tom

    Thanks for this article. Since nothing bad has happened to me (due to sheer chance of not being caught in 40 years of off and on abuse) my use/abuse of alcohol has been mostly reward of euphoria and numbness of discomfort with no legal consequences. Although I had the desire to stop using to avoid hangovers, future health problems, upsetting the wife… that the voice inside my head that said one drink on the sly wouldn’t hurt coerced me into using occasionally, then daily, then one led to more.

    I had to ask myself, “Do I really want to gamble with getting caught? Do I really want more wasted days?” The one thing I like about AA is hearing stories of the severe consequences that others have encountered. It is not hard for me to imagine that that could’ve been me, had I not been so “lucky.”
    I also hear from people that having had legal, financial, marital… consequences was a wake up call that they had a serious problem.
    So my commitment comes from acknowledging that I do have a problem and realizing my luck will run out someday to give me a wake up call. I now imagine I get into horrible trouble, wake up and be the commitment to change!

  2. ant

    It makes perfectly good sense. Commitment to anything is necessary for success. No different with sobriety!!! I feel that when committed to sobriety, I have a very bright future ahead of me. Even if a lapse, the commitment draws me back and keeps me on tract.

  3. John Boileau

    Seems like we should emphasize ” A Comittment to Sobriety” . In our group we also identify a fourth step as important, ” Stay Connected”
    Thanks for the blog, makes sense and tweeks the thinking processes.

Comments are closed.