What Works and What Doesn't

In overcoming an addiction, some things work well and some things just don't.

Let me cover both topics, but I'll cover the negative ones first.
What Doesn't Work

I have been attending 12 Step Meetings for over eight years. Over that period I have tried lots of things and observed lots of things that just don't work!

However, some of the things that don't work happen to be very popular -- but they still don't work.  Here are a few:

Tapering Off Doesn't Work

Trying to taper off from an addiction provides a false sense of hope, but it never works.  Does this sound familiar?

I was sober for 7 days last week, so this week I'll shoot for 8 days.  And then if he hits day 8 what happens -- he celebrates his accomplishment and relapses.

So after his relapse, he shoots for 9 days and then relapses and so on and so on.  

When I relapsed last, I had been sober for 11 months.  Should I now just shoot for 12 months and then relapse???

It never ends -- it really doesn't work!

Setting a Sobriety Goal Doesn't Work

This approach is also very popular.  But it too doesn't work.

Here are some examples:
  1. I had a friend who wanted to stay sober so he could attend the sealing of his sister.  He made it.  But he relapsed the night after the sealing. You see he met his goal.  So he let down his guard and rewarded himself.
  2. I have a friend who wanted to attend the temple with his younger brother when he received his endowments.  Well, he made it to his goal.  But you already know what happened afterward.
  3. I know more than one guy who wanted to stay sober so he could get married in the temple. That was his goal. Well, each of those guys met their goal. But each relapsed within weeks of getting married.
Setting a sobriety goal only works up until you hit your goal.  It's not permanent.

Plus when we set a sobriety goal, our reptilian brain, remembers that goal and says: "I can probably wait till that date, and then I'll get my reward."

Stop Saying to Myself, "The next time I relapse, I'm going to....."

The moment I say "the next time" I'm giving myself permission to have a next time.  I need to stop doing that!

Counting Days Is Neither Good Nor Bad

The only thing I have against counting days is that it emphasizes something negative (the emphasis is on the last time you screwed up). 

I would prefer to count how many times I avoided a temptation or a trigger and then reward myself accordingly. 

One writer suggests keeping a 3 by 5 card in your pocket and making a checkmark every time you avoid a temptation so you can see how well you are really doing with recovery!

What Works

Here are a few things that I've found that work:

Decide That "This Time" Is The Last Time

Believe it or not, some time has to be the "last time!"  So when will that "last time" be???  If I keep pushing that decision into the future, I will never have a "last time."  So I must decide right now that the last time I relapsed will actually be the "last time!"  Go ahead -- do it!!

The Lord wants me to make that decision.  Satan wants me to postpone that decision.  

My spirit wants you to make that decision, My natural man wants me to postpone that decision.

Now I know what you're thinking.  Your thinking, "But I don't trust myself.  I've promised myself that countless times in the past.  How can I make that decision this time?" 

One big difference is that this time I will involve the Lord in that decision.  I won't be doing it by myself.  That's the whole purpose of the 12 steps.  

Now I admit I might make that decision and fall on my face.  But at least that decision has already been made -- it is still in force.  The Lord will support me in my honest efforts.

Other Things That Work

Here is a list of other things that have worked for me in recovery:
  1. Attend at least one ARP meeting a week and be consistent.
  2. If I attend more than one meeting a week, at least I should make one of them my "home group."  Get to know the guys -- get their phone numbers, etc.
  3. Reach out to other guys and ask for help or reach out and offer help.
  4. When I reach out, I bless TWO lives.  (This ought to be scripture)  :-)
  5. The opposite of addiction is connection.  Reach out to someone at least once a day.
  6. When tempted, use PMSPray, Move (go for a walk, etc), and get Support (call or text someone)
  7. Do my dailies DAILY!  Include as a minimum, sincere prayer and reading the Book of Mormon.
  8. Meet with my bishop on a regular basis.
  9. Ask for a blessing on a regular basis. Every time I  meet with my bishop I ask for a blessing.
  10. Be accountable to at least one other person, daily if possible.
  11. Read my patriarchal blessing often (every Fast Sunday).
  12. Fast with a purpose and do it more than just on Fast Sunday.
  13. Give service to others and forget myself.
  14. Do NOT isolate!
This looks like a long list.  But nothing on the list takes a long time.

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