I’m gonna get sober and stop smoking and start exercising and eating right and…

Woah, there, little newbie! Slow your roll. These are all very admirable goals, but first things first, let’s just work on getting sober.

Being newly sober is sometimes like seeing the sun shine for the first time after being locked in a cave for years. It’s that gorgeous spring day where the weather is perfect, flowers are blooming, birds are singing and you feel like you can take on the whole world and come out on top with a winning grin. That’s super! However, alcoholics tend to have this whole all or nothing; black or white view of the world. If everything doesn’t go perfectly, then the whole thing has gone to pot – I can’t do anything right; I’m such a loser, so I might as well go back and drink myself to death. Honest to God, I wish I could tell you this wasn’t the case, but I’ve seen this (and experienced it myself) so many times that it is truly tragic.

Just like how the Washingtonians failed because they could not retain their focus on sobriety, the newcomer will often fail if he puts too much effort into bettering himself in other areas. This is not to say that we shouldn’t work to get healthy in all aspects of our life. We do need to have a primary focus, though, and all other things we do should support, rather than supersede, this singular goal. Folks in early sobriety will often annoy the daylights out of their friends and family, “All you think about is AA. Get a life already!” No! Seriously, if your alcoholic is talking AA all the time, it’s a very good thing. Bear with him and he will learn to find a balance in life before too long.

Sobriety, while difficult, is really very simple. And once we realize that at its most simplest, it boils down to “just don’t drink,” then we get cocky. “I got this thing licked. I’ll never drink again! Life is awesome!” Pink cloud much? Yes, life is awesome & yes, you never have to drink again. Life won’t always feel so awesome, though, so we need to have some serious sober scaffolding under that pink cloud. Easy does it. Build up a solid foundation that will support you in both the good and the bad, get comfortable there and THEN you can start thinking about improving other areas of your life. As a general guideline, we say no big changes in your first year. Talk to your sponsor about any grand ideas you have for making your life better and they can guide you in the best course of action.

My name is Laurie and I am an alcoholic. One of my biggest stumbling blocks in sobriety has been trying to quit smoking. There are times when everything just seems so overwhelming that something has to give. Though I felt bad every time I would pick up smokes again, I knew I made a much better move than I could have. Giving up on my sobriety is just NOT an option. [P.S. At this writing, I have been smoke-free for over 9 months now.]

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