Recovery from substance abuse has a cost, like all good things in life.
Some things cost more, some things cost less. Sometimes you are saving, sometimes you are spending. Sometimes you are just getting by day-by-day.
Having money in your bank account makes certain parts of your life easier. Monthly utilities get paid, a car payment or two, house payment, savings, groceries, entertainment, etc. The one thing required for all of this to work is money in the bank. To do that generally requires hard work, responsibility and planning. But you’ve got to show up and do the work.
If you think about it, recovery isn’t much different. It also requires hard work, responsibility and planning. And you have to show up and do the work.
In recovery, we have another type of account. I like to call it a “recovery bank account.”
If you want to stay sober/clean, the one thing required is recovery bucks in the recovery bank.
Fortunately, it is easy to put bucks in the recovery bank. Go to a meeting - bucks in the bank, recovery journaling – bucks in the bank, prayer/meditation – bucks in the bank, 12 step work – bucks in the bank, talk to your sponsor or another recovering addict – bucks in the bank, read the Big Book – bucks in the bank, exercise – bucks in the bank – the list goes on and on. You know what puts buck in your bank.
Pretty soon, you can have a significant amount of recovery bucks in the account. In fact, most people can make recovery bucks faster than they need to spend them. And if not, they certainly can if they decide to put some work into their recovery. Some of those with 10, 15, 20 years of good recovery can have millions in their account – you know who they are, they are the ones who give so freely to others in need.
Like having money in your bank account, having recovery bucks in your recovery bank makes certain parts of your life easier. Problems in relationships get paid for, resentments don’t burrow their way in, aggravation at work is managed, anxiety about the future is covered, worries about your kids, boredom, financial issues, etc. – all paid for. Just like your bank account the only thing required to pay for these life inevitabilities are bucks in the recovery bank.
90 meetings in 90 days and getting a sponsor = big bucks. That’s why we see so many in early recovery stay clean and sober during that period of time. They have amassed an impressive amount of bucks in the bank.
Unfortunately, that also is the time when many start to fall victim to the danger of complacency.
The recovering addict with big bucks can skip a meeting or two, or not call their sponsor as often and find out that they are okay.
And they are. They have extra bucks to pay for it.
They are relying on their recovery bank account. They have enough in there to miss some meetings, stop talking with other addicts, get lazy on their prayer and meditation, stop working on the steps, and other sobriety activities. You’ve seen it before . . . or maybe even experienced it before.
At first you may be able to go weeks, maybe months, maybe years, with fewer and fewer meetings and sober activities and you are still fine.
And you are.
But . . . eventually the account starts to run low.
Things that used to get paid for easily start to make a dent in the account. A fight with the spouse may leave you unable to “let go” and resentments may start. You have a problem at work and anxiety begins to creep in. Financial issues crop up and fear takes hold. Life plans change and a sense of hopelessness rears its ugly head.
Before you know it, or even notice it, you are beginning down the path of relapse. Your bank account is getting empty. Most experts in the field of substance abuse recovery agree that relapse happens, for most addicts, a long time before one takes that first drink/hit. And then they are surprised it happened!
How many of you have seen someone with great sobriety start coming to fewer and fewer meetings? Stop talking in meetings? Don’t stay after meetings and enjoy the fellowship? Then you see them fewer and fewer times and then they just disappear? You many run into them somewhere and they say they are doing great – “5 months now without using. I just don’t need to go to meetings or talk to my sponsor like I used to.”
And a year later, if they are lucky, you see them back again for their newcomer chip and they can’t figure out what happened – they were doing so good! It just happened. “I just stopped and got a bottle one day.”
Many of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about. You’ve been down this road. If so, share your experience with newcomers. Tell them your story. Tell them about the cost of not doing the work. Tell them about complacency. Tell them about the inevitability of relapse when bankrupt.
Newcomers - Don’t wait to find out the hard way. Get busy. Get some bucks in the bank. Not just at meetings. They are many, many ways to put bucks in the bank. Meditation and prayer, step work, mindful exercise like yoga and martial arts, recovery journaling, talking to others in recovery, having coffee with members of the fellowship, phone calls, service work, writing, hobbies, reading recovery related books, watching recovery related videos on YouTube (many), learn about the science of relapse, and most importantly – get out there and do the work!
You don’t get paid at your job for just showing up. You’re not going to get your recovery bucks for just showing up either. Recovery is an action word.
So . . . get started. Earn some bucks today!