Staying “Out”

At the time of this writing, a friend of mine from the program (whom I will call “Justin”) is “out”, and has been for well over two months now. Before he abandoned his program, Justin achieved more than a year of sobriety, with multiple commitments and sponsees to his name.  

I had the opportunity to visit Justin late one afternoon last week at the room he is renting, and found him surrounded by drug and alcohol paraphernalia, halfway through an IPA. He was in good enough spirits and seemed happy to see me, but showed no interest at that time in returning to our community.    

It is not yet a year ago that a visitor to my place of residence would have found me in nearly identical circumstances. Though I would like to tell you that the intervening year has shed me of all such wayward instincts, even now, I harbor doubts about my program, and contend with bad dreams of ‘relapse’ nearly every night.  

This blog is about the positive value of sobriety, full stop. Where then do we place my contrary confession? Does it speak simply to the unfortunate but natural aberrations of my mind, of any mind? Or, being as I’m a card-carrying member of AA, is it a measure of my mental weakness? Of my failure to adopt the solution?

I feel at liberty to discuss my doubts because I can couple them with this certainty: the time that I have spent sober, attending AA meetings and working the steps, has resulted in tremendous growth and personal development. I know the same would prove true for any person with a long-standing chemical dependency.

And yet, Justin’s decision to terminate his sobriety is well within his rights as a human being, for sobriety is not morally superior to intoxication; morality is an exclusive function of our actions with respect to others.  

However, if in returning to drug and alcohol use, one finds oneself conformed to a lifestyle of self-centeredness and alienation; let not a moment’s shame prevent you from returning to the sober life that served you so well.

If shame is to account for Justin’s dalliance, I cannot know. However, I am confident time will return him to his program of sobriety; for it was clear to even the most casual observer, that no one so benefitted from its effects as much as the man himself.

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