When some people decide to get sober, they are choosing recovery and making that one difficult decision. they feel like sobriety is a life sentence and choosing recovery is hard. They can’t imagine never drinking again and it feels like a giant invisible hand is forcing them to get sober.
For people with addiction, recovery is life and death
Getting sober is a choice you make for self-improvement. Just like any program of self-improvement, sobriety requires a daily commitment to change. “Take it one day at a time” is a common piece of advice in Twelve Step programs. When I was in early sobriety, that expression, okay, all Twelve Step expressions, annoyed me. I knew that it wasn’t one day at a time. My time was up, and I had to be sober for the rest of my life. My sponsor reminded me often that I could choose to drink any day. That felt like a trick, because deep down I knew that I could never drink again, even though I wanted to.
Today, 12 years sober, I understand that I could drink today, but I don’t want to. Every day I make the choice to remain sober, just as I have every day for the last twelve years.
The best choice I’ve ever made
I liken the decision to choose sobriety to the decision to become a vegan. People choose to become vegans for health or ethical reasons. Often, they consider making this choice for some time, they waver about it, they research how to do it. At some point, they make their decision. They do the work of avoiding meat, they tell their friends, they frequent establishments that support their lifestyle, and they make new friends that share the same lifestyle. As they build their new, vegan-centered lives, the lifestyle becomes enjoyable. They’re proud of their accomplishments, and often report that they feel better, have more energy, and can’t imagine going back to eating meat.
A vegan makes the choice to remain a vegan every day. Certainly there may be temptations to “fall off the wagon.” Many restaurants don’t have adequate vegan options, a sizzling steak may suddenly look appealing. It’s more difficult to fully commit to the lifestyle than to choose the easier path.
Not-drinking is a lifestyle choice
Nevertheless, the person remains true to their convictions. Quitting drinking is not so different. It’s a lifestyle choice, made for health reasons. When someone chooses to quit using drugs or alcohol, they build a lifestyle around sobriety, finding friends that share the same values and eschewing bar culture. With time, they feel proud of their choices and feel better. They don’t wake up sick anymore, they argue less, and their lives improve in ways they couldn’t have imagined. With each day, the commitment to remaining sober becomes easier and easier. At some point, drinking again becomes unthinkable.
Yes, it is one day at a time. But it’s also the lifestyle that I’ve chose.
About Adam Banks
Adam Banks is a certified interventionist and the owner of Adam Banks Recovery. After receiving an MBA from the University of Chicago, Adam built a company that was later acquired by United Health Care. His discipline and attention to detail comes from his former career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.
Today, Adam is dedicated to helping others achieve long-term sobriety. His work has guided executives, pilots, and physicians on paths to recovery. Adam brings families together through a loving and inclusive approach.
Adam has authored four books on addiction. His recent work, Navigating Recovery Ground School: 12 Lessons to Help Families Navigate Recovery, educates families on the entire intervention process. He also offers a free video course for families considering an intervention for a loved one.
Adam is available for alcohol and drug intervention services in New York, Long Island, the Hamptons as well as nationally and internationally.