It is very difficult for an individual to accept that he is an alcoholic. He often thinks he can control his drinking next time. He may think there must be something wrong with the brand he has been using. So, he will try to change the brand. If that doesn’t work, he may switch from whiskey to brandy, gin, vodka, or others. Sometimes he may try beer or wine. But the sickening taste will often make him choose rum as the last resort. He may change places, cities and often states. But the concept of “controlled drinking” is dead and buried by then.
The 12 steps program is a simple, yet complex way to stay sober one day at a time. Acceptance is the most important factor to stay sober. Physical craving for alcohol can go away after a few days or weeks of abstinence. He may go to the Detox and rehab centers to eliminate the toxic wastes of alcohol in his body. Staying sober within the walls of the rehab center is no problem. Staying sober as a free man in the open society is the biggest challenge.
Surrender is more than kneeling down and praying to keep sober. It is the acceptance of complete powerlessness over alcohol and that life has become unmanageable. Old timers often tell the newcomers to focus only on the first step, but why?
As you can see, the word alcohol is mentioned only once in the twelve steps. All the other steps focus on character defects, amendments, willingness, and other aspects. So, alcoholism could be a disease which might have caught up with the individual long before he tasted the first sip of alcohol.
Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Once an alcoholic, he is a lifetime alcoholic. Many people have relapsed after 15, 20, and even 25 years of sobriety. So, the recovering alcoholic should keep practicing the first step for the rest of his life. So, he has to follow the first step every day and every moment to keep sober. For that, he has to surrender his will and his life to the care of a higher power as he understands. Before that, he should believe that only a power greater than himself can save him from the present condition of hopelessness.
Taking the first three steps as the solid foundation could be the only way for ensuring long term sobriety, one day at a time. Taking a sponsor is very critical for practicing the steps in the right direction.
Note: Choose a sponsor with practical experience in working the twelve steps.