The Big Book is the Bible of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community, and within it are helpful phrases and quotes that can carry a recovering addict a long way. Resting in the truth that lies within the following phrases can be helpful and meaningful for someone who is new to sober living. Although these phrases might be worn out for some, returning to the essence of what they’re communicating can continue to be a bright light for many.
HOW: Honesty, Openness, and Willingness
Recovery is learning how to live fully without the use of manipulation, denial, and resistance. Sober living is a path of personal growth through the use of honesty, openness, and willingness, also known as the HOW of sober living. Honesty can counter the tendency to deny that there is a problem, to ignore the illnesses of the mind, and to avoid the truth. Honesty is the treatment for denial, which leads to the healing experience of acceptance – acceptance that there is a problem, acceptance that we need help, and acceptance of the truth. Openness encourages listening, a kind of listening that addiction might have closed off. Listening requires the use of all the senses, including intuition. This sort of listening strengthens trust and respect, and it is the openness that heals addiction. It too leads to connection – with ourselves and with others. Willingness could be defined as knowing what you need to do and doing it. It can be a hard choice to finally do what you need to do. There are old habits, familiar circumstances, and inner struggles that get in the way. Yet, it’s not the things that we intend to do that brings healing, but the things that we actually do.
HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired
In many ways, recovery from addiction means learning how to take care of yourself. Many addicts find that they don’t know how to do something as simple as feed themselves or tend to their health or even take care of their hygiene with a shower on a regular basis. Part of recovery for many who are new to sober living is the essential lesson of taking good care of oneself.
For instance, recovery might include learning what to do when you’re hungry, angry, lonely and tired. As an acronym, HALT invites a new recovering addict to STOP. Rather than reaching for alcohol each time the stomach growls or going to the bar when you’re angry or watching TV with a beer in your hand when you’re lonely, addicts in AA are taught to stop. When you’re hungry, feed yourself. When you’re lonely, call a friend. When you’re angry, use a coping mechanism that allows for the healthy expression of that anger, such as exercise. And when you’re tired sleep. The acronym invites a new response to life, a response to life that is healthy and appropriate to the one’s needs.
One Day At A Time
The idea of staying sober for an entire lifetime can feel like such a heavy burden that can set you up for failure from the beginning. But if getting sober is broken down to simply staying sober for one day, just one day at a time, then it becomes achievable. Going one day without drinking or using is doable. Recovery is a process of not using one day at a time.
Let Go, Let God
It’s an existential saying, asking that you give up your personal idea of control and hand over your difficulties to God. Sure, there are major questions that might arise in response, such as: Who is the God I’m handing my problems over to? What does it mean to let go? How will letting go solve anything? …and so on. However, many recovering addicts have found that a relationship with a higher power is the foundation upon which their sobriety rests. Even those new to the AA community and who are resistant to any idea of a higher power often come to later appreciate this fundamental part of the 12-step program. Letting go means releasing the need to control and micromanage life. Instead, there’s a willingness to trust that problems will find their solutions and that sobriety will prevail in the end.
Although these sayings might sound like clichés for some, for others they can hold so much meaning that they in fact help to turn their lives around. They can be the key to long-term sobriety.
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