Wednesday, May 5, 2010

“Squirrels make choices?”

Apparently so! There is an old saying that is both hilarious and true at the same time. The saying is, “Indecision killed the squirrel”. Short and sweet but what a powerful point it makes!

Recovery from drugs and alcohol addiction can be a lot like the squirrel stuck in the middle of the proverbial road. Does he go backwards or forwards? Can he weave through the traffic to safely arrive at his destination yonder across the road? Similarly, the addict is navigating a new direction by starting down (or in this case across) the road to recovery. During the journey, there is temptation to go back, temptation to stop in the middle and hang out, and even fear of what is on the other side.


Recovery is premised upon action. It is, in fact, all about choices. Actions, of course, are just the result of choices made. If that is true, than our choices become a very important factor in the outcome of our lives.


It is fairly evident that people have a freedom to choose one course of action over another. We are not automatons although we may feel hemmed in, trapped, and powerless by the power of a drug/alcohol addiction. With this in mind, it is very hard to make the case that we just “become” addicted. Sure that is what happens BUT it is AFTER we make the decision NOT before. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the addict to embrace a life of positive choices in order to stay recovered. That, of course, requires a plan!


To choose one path is, by default, to not choose another path. That’s obvious, right? Not so fast! Most people miss the obvious when it comes to decision making. Therefore, whenever you make a decision to forego recovery work, you are, in fact, making a decision to head toward relapse. It may not be intentional and you certainly may not have a future relapse on your mind, however, to not build up your defenses is akin to what Darth Vader said to Luke during their epic battle… “You are unwise to lower your defenses!”


Therefore, it is wise to make a recovery plan to live out each day. Good questions to ask yourself include the following: What types of people will you associate with now that you are sober? What places are safe for you to go and which will you avoid? Are there relationships you need to sever or at least put on hold for the time being?


Furthermore, it is wise to consider what positive choices you can make each day to ensure your sobriety. Do you need to alter your behaviors in more positive ways (i.e. avoid bars; attend “sober parties”, start a hobby, etc.)? How many program people do you need to call a day? Do you check-in with your sponsor every day? Will exercising be of benefit to you today? How about journaling your feelings so that you are not “emotionally constipated”?


Finally, life is all about choices. The lure of alcohol and drugs can be overwhelming at times but remember you always have a choice. If curiosity killed the cat, then indecision definitely killed the squirrel. So, remember kids, look both ways when crossing but don’t stop ‘til you get to the other side or the Mack Truck of Addiction will flatten your progress in recovery!


Chris Newcomb

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