Part 1: Commitment to Sobriety

By Jim (GJBXVI) Braastad

Green Carabine with White Ropes on Sky Background, Symbolizing the CommitmentWhile meandering around the SMART Recovery community website (SROL), I came across the following tidbit of information:

Scientific research shows that people who have recovered successfully (regardless of the method used) all have three things in common, those being: 

  • A commitment to sobriety; 
  • A change in lifestyle; and 
  • They prepare and plan for urges.

I believe the need for each these three things to be true. While each of them is important in the big picture, I think the “commitment to sobriety” is listed first for a reason.

Throughout life, we choose to make various commitments. In school, there are those who made commitments to academics, to the arts, to sports or any combination thereof. After graduation, some make commitments to higher education and go off to college, while others go out into the workforce and make commitments to their jobs.

When one marries, there is a commitment made to your spouse. When you have children, there is a commitment to family. To be successful in education and academics, one needs to be committed to learning. To be successful at work, one needs to be committed to their job. To have a successful marriage, you need to be committed to each other. The examples are almost endless and they all seem to share something. It seems that when there is success, there is also commitment.

Is it any different with this “sobriety” thing? I think not. I believe that unless one has an unadulterated, unwavering “commitment to sobriety”, it’s most likely not going to happen. Without the commitment, the other two things (change of lifestyle, prepare and plan for urges) would be moot points, having little to no overall significance. But when combined with the commitment, they become an integral part of the overall plan.

Like any decision involving a long-term commitment, making this commitment to a “commitment” can be extremely daunting and troublesome. This may be especially so for those who have not experienced any OMG consequences, those things that have been the major wake-up call to some of us. For if someone is carrying the belief, “Nothing really bad has happened, so what’s the problem???” it may be extremely difficult to take the first step and make the “commitment to sobriety”.

So what to do when such is the case? Dig out or prepare a Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA) and take a look at both the short and long-term disadvantages. How many “bad things” are listed? Three??? Five??? Ten??? More??? Individually, they may seem minor and easily dealt with. But what happens if you were to replace each item with the word “BAD” and add them up. How many individual “little bads” are there? When you have that number, ask yourself, “How many “little bads” does it take to make a BIG bad????”

If there is nothing individually that gives the incentive to make the commitment, combine all the little “bads” and make them into a BIG bad. For then, the decision to make a “commitment to sobriety” might be a bit easier to make.

What do you think? Make any sense?

Jim has been active in SMART since 2009 in various volunteer roles. He’s currently the Program Coordinator for the SMART Recovery Distance Training Program.

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