• David Smeltz


The holiday season is upon us. Get togethers with family and friends, food and drink, and festive activities abound this time of year. The holiday season can also bring about emotional upheaval exacerbated by memories of pleasant past - holiday experiences vs. the present absence of relatives and friends for some recovering/recovered alcoholics and addicts like myself. Every day for a man or woman in recovery is a day we make our recovery a priority for that 24 hour period. This is a one day at a time program which I commit to daily. And, my commitment to stay clean and sober must be even more focused during the holidays and during times of celebration. I’ve observed increases in relapse during this time of year. As a matter of fact, a sponsee of mine with a couple of years sober just went back out over Thanksgiving. This disease is cunning, baffling and powerful! It’s the only disease known that tells you that you don’t have it! And yes, alcoholism a disease.

”The modern disease theory of alcoholism states that problem drinking is sometimes caused by a disease of the brain, characterized by altered brain structure and function. The largest association of physicians— the American Medical Association (AMA) declared that alcoholism was an illness in 1956.” - Wikipedia

We cannot afford to rely on past actions to keep us sober today. That would equate to trying to satisfy my hunger pangs today by filling up on the memory of what I ate yesterday. It doesn’t work! Each day I must be diligent about my sobriety. A God of my understanding has removed the obsession to drink and use but there are certain things I’m required to do to maintain my sobriety and grow in this sober way of living. In order to be happy, joyous and free I must participate in regular meeting attendance. Regular attendance keeps me apprised of what my existence was like prior to recovery by listening and identifying with fellow recovering alkies and dope fiends. We tend to be quick forgetters. When life gets good and things start going our way we may forget the misery of what brought us to the rooms in the first place. We can begin to question if we are truly alcoholic. “Maybe, we just drank a little too much? I haven’t had a drink or a drug for awhile and I don’t even miss it.... possibly, I could just have one? After all, ‘‘tis the season!” This thought sequence illustrates our need to remember daily how bad it truly was prior to surrendering. Another way of committing to my priority to live a clean and sober lifestyle is by intensively working with other alcoholics. Visiting a treatment center and/or speaking in detox is insurance against the next shot or hit. Our experience at staying sober can give the new man or women in detox hope that they too have a chance to live alcohol and drug free. Plus, it reminds us of what it could be like for us if we’re not conscientious of our daily reprieve from mood and mind altering substances. That is, if we survive a relapse. So, I go late to parties where there will be drinking and I leave early. If I go at all I try to bring another sober person with me. I don’t make excuses why I’m not drinking. I tell the truth if asked. The truth is that once I start drinking and drugging I can’t stop. This has been proven time and time again through personal experience. For me to believe and act on the suggestion that “just one” wouldn’t hurt me would be to disavow my personal truth. And my denial of this truth would not make me a victim....I would be a volunteer! For those social users out there - be safe! For those in recovery- stay prayed up and plugged in!

Happy Holidays to all!

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