It’s never intended for a recovering alcoholic to not get around alcohol ever again. It’s just not feasible to avoid being around it permanently when it’s present in so much of the world. The same principle holds true with recovering addicts of all varieties. Entering 12 Step recovery isn’t about living a monastic life, it’s all about helping an individual with a former addiction to learn how to live in a world sober where the substance of their addiction continues to exist all around them.
A recovering food addict for example can’t avoid being around food unless they want to starve themselves to death. A recovering sex and love addict can’t avoid being around attractive people in this world unless they want to become agoraphobic and never leave their home. Quite similar, the recovering nicotine addict can’t avoid people smoking or vaping pretty much anywhere these days. And with marijuana becoming legalized in one state after another now, it’s becoming harder and harder not to be around those freely smoking it, thus challenging a recovering drug addict. The list goes on.
That’s why I’ve learned in my 12 Step recovery life that the stronger my program is and the healthier my spiritual foundation of my life is, that I can be around any of my former addictions. Let me clarify this though, as some newly sober individuals from an addiction might run with this and justify actions that are very unhealthy for them.
I’m not saying that a recovering alcoholic should hang out in a bar regularly. Nor should a recovering drug addict hang out with a friend repeatedly who’s doing a drug regularly they once did. I’m also not saying a food addict should frequent dining places like buffets either. But should a recovering alcoholic be able to attend an event at a bar or shoot pool from time to time for example? Most definitely. Should a recovering drug addict be able to be at a birthday party for example, where someone suddenly lights up a joint for themselves and be ok with that too? Absolutely. And should a recovering food addict be able to be around someone eating something they once had no control over. Certainly. Trying to avoid being around every single trigger from a former addiction would lead to a very lonely and monastic life. But learning how to be around the substance of a former addictions truly takes time. And it takes a lot of work, the core of which is developing a strong relationship with a Higher Power, something all 12 Step programs lead sober individuals to.
My work in 12 Step recovery and my relationship to God has absolutely helped me to dine out with individuals having drinks, to attend parties where someone lights up a joint, to be around those who smoke or vape, and even be friends with people I’m attracted to.
The bottom line is that one doesn’t enter recovery for an addiction to live a monastic life. I tried that, attempting to block myself off from every possible way where the substance of former addictions was present, and I still came across them in some way, shape, or form. That’s why 12 Step recovery is all about learning how to live in a world where those substances of former addictions still exist and having enough of a spiritual foundation from their recovery to not fall back into any one of them whenever they come across our path.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson