A commonly heard phrase in the rooms of recovery is, “Stick with the ‘winners’!”
Early on I recall asking the question, “Well, who are the ‘winners’?”
Funnily enough, what I’ve come to find over the 22 years I’ve been drug-free and actively involved in recovery is this: The word “stick” (as in “Stick with the winners!”) turns out to be a key element in the lives of most, if not all, recovery ‘winners.’ Why? Because they all seem to know how important it is to “stick and stay” in various dimensions of a life built around maintaining recovery, long-term.
Indeed, when seeking to answer the question, “What makes a winner in recovery?” I’ve found it’s helpful to explore the ways in which ‘sticking and staying’ is connected with developing long-term recovery, one day at a time.
Let’s start with the general view that ‘winning’ in recovery involves gaining freedom from active addiction and, going forward, living a new way of life, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Given that assumption, we can begin to look at some of the ways people with long-term recovery apply this principle of sticking and staying.
Those who have sought (or who currently seek) help in their struggle to stop drinking and/or using know the agony, suffering and horrible consequences brought on by addiction (to alcohol and/or drugs). Typically, upon entering treatment and/or a 12 Steps program, most quickly become aware that gaining “freedom” from the obsession and compulsion to drink or use drugs is not easily gained. Work is involved. Making changes is involved. Mustering new levels of honesty—with oneself and with others—is involved. An openness to taking suggestions (especially from those who know how to recover) is involved. And the willingness to follow through on suggested attitude and behavior changes is involved.
However, what is implied in all of the above is something vital regarding establishing and strengthening our recovery: “Sticking and staying” with all of these new ways of being.
That is, if we want to become winners in recovery ourselves, it’s essential we dedicate ourselves each day (or each hour or each minute) to the work at hand: replacing old, self-sabotaging attitudes and behavior patterns with new, healthy ones. Each day renewing our commitment to not drinking or using and sustaining these required changes. Getting honest with others and reaching out for help whenever necessary, every day. Surrendering our pride, each morning, acknowledging we don’t know how to recover on our own (otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are, right?)
Yes, we stick and stay with these new recovery routines and practice them diligently and daily. We become more fluent with taking suggestions and following through with them in action. Reading and writing about the nature of addiction, especially at applies to our own life experiences. Sharing openly, listening to and encouraging others, being of service where we can. Seeking and developing a stronger, more well-connected sense of spirituality in our lives.
Sticking and staying with these components of a life in recovery—a new life lived one day at a time—and allowing ourselves to change in positive ways, heal up in our bodies, minds and spirits, so we are more and more the people who we’ve always wanted to be, people we naturally love to be and who others can more easily love.
Through whatever means, be it treatment, 12 Steps, a combination of both or by some other process, sticking and staying with “the program” and the principles of recovery, as well as our network of friends in recovery, our treatment center counselor, therapist and staff members, our sponsor… committing to and following through with action, one day at a time, this is how we become winners in recovery.
So, just for today, stick and stay!