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  • Writer's pictureMike and Glenn

Plan in hand

News of a relapse in our tight-knit community is always hard to swallow.  Too often, it is a tragic story of a battle lost that sometimes ends in fatality.  At best, it is usually a combination of self-destruction and devastation to our friends and their families.  We sympathize as pity for all exudes.  We empathize as we realize the tale could be ours and would be if not for the effort we place into preparedness.

Our time in sober school or recovery boot camp has opened our eyes to the messaging that surrounds us: have a drink, and things will be better. The beat is loud and continuous.

It is attractive and omnipresent. The picture depicts the perfect combination of comfort and bliss, success and achievement, laughter and love.

Understanding our reality is the foundation on which we stand. Accepting that our train derails shortly after departure is the truth that we choose to message ourselves as long as we are in motion. This truthful self-talk is needed to overpower the lie that lives if the first sip passes our lips.

Being honest and transparent, we confess that the thought of re-capturing a moment of relief creeps into our cerebrum on occasion.  We find ourselves in a situation that screams for a stiff one.  We don’t always know where the thought comes from, but we know what to do with it as soon as it arises. It must be squashed – lest it fertilize and grow into an obsession. 

The program and people of Alcoholics Anonymous have taught us to crack open the toolbox, the war chest, as soon as a plan needs to be constructed. Rifling through our apparatus, we grab onto what we think will get the job done. Phone-a-friend, change of scenery, grabbing a coffee, going to a meeting, reciting the serenity prayer, visual distraction, playing the scenario all the way through, and meditative breathing are just a handful of strategies fit to deploy. 

The real answer might have been found before the question was asked. We have learned to avoid potentially problematic situations altogether. We have seen the power of a well-thought-out plan when attendance is unavoidable. We remind ourselves of who we are and why we have endorsed this sober lifestyle change upon arising and repeatedly throughout the day. 

We can be a relapse story later today.  We know that.  The foe is fierce, and sometimes we are fragile.  We see how this goes: the thought, the feeding of the thought into an obsession, and then the action. 

We side with the probability of success because we realize the battle exists.  We find our strength comes not from within but from those that surround us.  We fight to win with sharp weapons and an army of comrades.  We rely on the supernatural as our superpower.

These days, we don’t walk around empty-handed where a drink could land.  We walk with preparedness in hand.  We are constantly on the sharp - ready for battle.  We surrender the heavy lifting and faithfully deploy the tactics we have been trained to use.

We can spare a future of destruction, devastation, and death—the dreaded relapse—by staying alert and keeping our hands war-ready. If we remain diligent and keep our plan in hand, we can avoid the avoidable.

That is our plan for today.



Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from bonus podcast titled “Bonus Drop:  Anatomy of a Relapse - A Step by Step Look (@YourSoberPal)“ … The session dropped on 3/6/2022.    Click here to hear the podcast. 


Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.


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