The Insanely Insufficient New Year’s Excuse
Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol. (Alcoholics anonymous pg. 33)
Here we are, it’s almost New Years Eve. If you are reading this, you have survived the Mayan calendar end of the world, Y2K, the 1999 end of the world, the cold war and if you are in the United States you might be bracing yourself t go over a “fiscal cliff”, yet you are a survivor.
If you are recovering from alcohol or drug use however, you need to know that these things are not your biggest concern. Your end of the world can be summed up in seven letters: R-E-L-A-P-S-E.
As the world prepares for the new beginning that is signified in a new year one of the biggest dangers to people in recovery looms on the horizon: New Year’s Eve.
That night in many places is a time of celebration that is unmatched throughout the rest of the year. For many of us in recovery, that same night might contain danger that is unmatched throughout the year. How many people in my life (some well meaning, some for some evil reason and some just not caring or paying attention) have tried to offer me alcohol and drugs on New Year’s Eve? Some have gone so far as to apply peer pressure and the power of public humiliation to attempt to nudge me into the direction of relapse and inevitable self-destruction.
Conversations about why this or that substance or this time doesn’t count. Why champagne does not count or why New Year’s Eve is somehow a magic time where using will not affect my recovery. Why the New Year’s Eve celebration is somehow a safe environment to use and on and on.
Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 30)
There is no safe reason for or safe place for a person in recovery to use. ANY USE AT ALL IS A RELAPSE NO MATTER WHERE OR WHEN IT IS. YOU ARE EITHER SOBER OR NOT! Any hiding place you find that you think makes it safe for you to use is only a hiding place from reality. Any magic formula you find to use safely is only a formula for foolishness.
But even in this type of beginning we are obliged to admit that our justification for a spree was insanely insufficient in the light of what always happened. We now see that when we began to drink deliberately, instead of casually, there was little serious or effective thought during the period of premeditation of what the terrific consequences might be. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 37)
Any reason for using (even on New Year’s Day) is “insanely insufficient” in light of the reasons you are in recovery in the first place. There is no magic minute, hour, day, place or group of people that makes it safe for an alcoholic/addict to use again once in recovery.
Every use in the life of a person in advanced alcoholism/addiction comes with the probability of unleashing a tornado of chaos in the lives of every person who’s life has any contact with the person (including that person himself/herself) that may end with the absolute annihilation of any environment this person comes into contact with. RELAPSE IS OUR END OF THE WORLD.
Once a person is in recovery, that person is on a path that is founded on two basic thoughts:
- Using intoxicating substances is absolutely destructive to my life and the lives of those around me.
- I must stop using intoxicating substances at all costs to be free.
Any reason you have for using or for feeling it is safe to use is an “insanely trivial excuse” (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 37).
No matter what you hear, where you are at, what everyone else is doing, how miserable or happy you may be at the time:
The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 30)
There may be champagne drinking, drug using people who appear just fine by the next day and seem to move on with life. That I of no matter to those of us in recovery simply because: WE ARE NOT THEM!
There have been people who have jumped off of bridges and lived, should I go and do it too and expect to be fine. There have been people that have been shot in the head and lived, should I shoot myself in the head.
The question is not if other people can or cannot use safely. The question for those of us in recovery is if I have accepted that I can never use alcohol/drugs safely.
If you have not fully accepted this then New Year’s parties are among the worst places on earth for you to be. If you have accepted this then keep in mind that New Year’s parties are still one of the most dangerous places on earth for you to be. Even in these cases you may find temptation so great that you have to excuse yourself, make your way to an exit and run for dear life as fast as you can.
If these facts bother you (as it does most of us at some point) look at these words from founding member Dr. Bob had to say about those feelings:
I used to get terribly upset when I saw my friends drink and knew I could not, but I schooled myself to believe that though I once had the same privilege, I had abused it so frightfully that it was withdrawn. So it doesn’t behoove me to squawk about it for, after all, nobody ever had to throw me down and pour liquor down my throat. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 181 – Dr. Bob’s Nightmare)
No matter what we were like before or how well others seem to handle it, we can never safely use again period. Any of us who do not completely get this must not risk such events or gatherings. It would be far better to spend New Year’s Eve with others in recovery and around strong support to carry us through this challenge.
If you have accepted this, it is still important to have people in place wherever you are that know if you are struggling and are strong enough to stop you if you begin to walk down the road to the stupidity of relapse.
One important point to remember also is that no matter if you decide it is safe to go out on New Year’s Eve or not, you must be willing to be a support for others in recovery also:
Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 89)
Sober Christmas, Sober Holidays, and Sober New Year’s…
Stay Sober My Friends…
- Holiday Gatherings: Explain or Avoid (wadehrecoverynetwork.wordpress.com)
- Treated as an Alcoholic/Addict or Weirdo During the Holidays (wadehrecoverynetwork.wordpress.com)
- Shame and Addiction (addictionandrecoverynews.wordpress.com)
- A Common Sense Approach to Communicating Common Sense (wadehrecoverynetwork.wordpress.com)
- Tips for a Sober New Year Fun Fun Fun!!! (beittshuvah.wordpress.com)
- Helping Your Loved One Avoid a Relapse (everydayhealth.com)