Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ensuring Success in Long-Term Sobriety

Peter R. Coleman, M.D.

Today I met with a patient who has continued to relapse. He fully believes he is an alcoholic and he knows what he should do to stay sober. But, up until now, he has not done what he needs to do in order to stay sober. It requires a huge amount of work to be successful and stay sober.
Last week my family and I returned from a highly successful two week vacation with a very difficult mission. Joan and I took my two teenage children, three of their friends and her two adult children on a trip out west. Our mission was to climb the tallest peaks in four states – New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Five teenagers and four adults in a 32-foot RV traveling across the country into places we had never been. Nine people with the intention of doing things we had never done before. In truth, the mission was a lot more difficult than any of us imagined, but we did achieve our goals - and we had a huge amount of fun doing it. It will certainly be one of the best vacations I have ever had, and it was a life-changing experience for all of us!

In order to be successful, we had to do a lot of preparation and then execute on it. There are a number of similarities between this trip and getting into recovery and staying in recovery:

1.     Determining our Destination - We had to decide where we actually wanted to get to (e.g. in your recovery, what do you really want?) before we could move forward with the other components, such as:

2.    Planning

o   Deciding on the Route

o   Reading books - on how to do it and how to be safe

o   Consulting professionals who knew the steps to be successful

o   Consulting other climbers who had taken the same journey

3.    Committing to the plan

o   Buying the tickets

o   Telling friends and family what we were doing

4.    Training and getting prepared

o   Obtaining equipment and supplies

o   Preparing physically

o   Preparing emotionally

o   Preparing spiritually

5.    Executing the plan – enjoying the journey

o   Start the journey

o   Being with friends who knew the way

o   Asking for help

o   Being flexible if plans needed to change

o   Being patient if plans needed to change

o   Dealing with setbacks, when needed

o   Helping each other so no one got left behind

o   Making sure the journey is fun along the way

o   Celebrating successes along the way

We had a fabulous vacation and all nine of us feel incredibly happy and proud that we were able to do what we set out to do. I hope my patient is able to achieve success in his endeavor to stay sober. It is a lot of work, but the outcome is priceless!

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