I learned very early in my recovery that if I wanted to stay sober, I had to put as much energy into my recovery as I did into my addiction. When I was using, I used to buy the monthly magazine High Times. When I got sober, I purchased a monthly subscription to the A.A. publication The Grapevine. When I was using, I would go to parties and hangout with my using friends. When I got sober, I went to A.A. Roundups and made new friends who were sober. When I was using, I did some addiction related behavior every night. When I got sober, I went to 365 meetings in 365 days. To stay sober, I did the polar opposite of what I was doing when I was getting high and drunk.
The key for me was action and more action. I couldn’t wait for the meetings to come to me – I had to go to the meetings. I couldn’t sit back and wait for the phone to ring – I had to pick up the phone and call my sponsor. I couldn’t sit around and hope a sober activity would spontaneously break out – I had to get involved and help plan and organize sober functions.
I learned very early in my recovery that “hope is not a plan” and a “vision without a strategy is nothing more than hallucination”. If I was going to lead a life that was clean and sober, I had to work at it. Recovery wasn’t going to magically appear on my doorstep. I was going to have to knock on the door of recovery and keep knocking until the door opened.
Where did I find all this information about the necessity of action and more action?
First, from practical experience - when I was focused on the solution and the way forward, I wasn’t dwelling on the past. I didn’t want to stumble on something that was behind me. Second, from observation – I noticed that those who weren’t actively engaged in recovery didn’t seem to stick around the tables for an extended period of time. Third, from reading the book Alcoholics Anonymous (aka The Big Book). Inside the pages of the Big Book it told me over and over again that it was a program of action. Here are but a few of those examples:
Pg. 9 - “…a practical program of action.”
Pg. 17 - "…we can join in brotherly and harmonious action.”
Pg. 42 - “Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action.”
Pg. 63 - “Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action,”
Pg. 72 - “This requires action on our part...”
Pg. 76 - “Faith without works is dead.”
Pg. 85 - “It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe." “...But we must go further and that means more action.”
Pg. 87 - "As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.”
Pg. 88 – “It works—it really does. We alcoholics are undisciplined. So, we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined. But this is not all. There is action and more action. “Faith without works is dead.”
My recovery blossomed with “action” – not the contemplating, sitting, and relaxing, but the doing. After all, “it is a program of action and more action.”