Schooled in Sobriety
Updated: Nov 17
The average cost of attendance for a student living on campus at a public 4-year in-state institution is $26,027 per year or $104,108 over four years, according to EducationalData.org. The site goes on to project private settings costing more than double those numbers.
The debate today is fresh as to the long-term justification of the university option and continued education.
The statistics, as analyzed by aplu.org, are that college graduates are half as likely to be unemployed as their peers who only have a high school degree. Typical earnings for bachelor's degree holders are 84% higher than those whose highest degree is a high school diploma. College graduates, on average, make $1.2 million more over their lifetime.
For this post, we will assume that education has value. This writing focuses on the academic knowledge and power of the social network that results in a formal educational setting.
The learning process
We didn't see the value of learning simple math until we were introduced to the complexities of algebra.
For everybody, grade school comes before college; Actually, kindergarten comes before grade school, prep or high school is wedged in there, and when needed, tutoring is woven throughout. Altering this time-tested process would spell disaster for our ability to learn and grow.
With reading, writing, and arithmetic, we learn the basics before we move to the complexities and intricacies of the underlying subject. With sobriety, a similar process exists. We learn and practice the art of abstinence before we grow in the attributes of right, sober living. We can’t practice the love of others until we have perfected the love of ourselves. Inner honesty is our base for outward morality. We can't be spiritual until we understand spirituality.
We have recovered with the teaching format of 12-step recovery. We were instructed that “the steps” are laid out sequentially by design. We have learned that we need to know the basics: about our relationship with alcohol, our connection to a power greater than ourselves, and an understanding of what made us who we are and what makes us tick.
Then, we learned the value of making restitution to others before we could embark on the maintenance and growth of our inner being.
To procure a new lease on life, we had to negate the existing agreement we had with ourselves. We had to learn to relearn, for the most part, how we approached the people, places, and things surrounding us.
We were gifted with a textbook (the book titled Alcoholics Anonymous) but needed to open it, study it, and apply the principles and practices in the order in which it is laid out for us to maximize its value.
If the above isn’t good enough, the news gets better for the learned. We don't have to do this alone. Our classmates stand willing and able to support our efforts. Our colleagues in recovery become, if we allow, soul mates in sobriety. This benefit plays out internally and externally as transformation takes hold:
The power of network
There is a real beauty in a classroom setting where the professor makes a statement outside of our understanding, and we look to our fellow students and inquire about their take. Usually, within seconds, the confusion is cleared up. Study groups further enhance every studying scenario. However, the best guidance comes from an upperclassman who has completed the class and understands the curriculum.
Millions of pupils have benefited from the guide of the experienced. Schools, by default, are one-to-many and not lone encounters. And, as life unfolds, workplaces build on that concept of comradery. Why, then, would one pursue sobriety in solitude?
Perhaps we hang on to the philosophies of our forefathers, who proclaimed that asking for help was a weakness. Maybe this approach is healthy situationally. What we have found is that there is power in numbers. We have experienced in our own lives the raw advantage of pulling in support to achieve an objective.
We could list countless examples of teams accomplishing more than individuals, but nowhere are the examples more numerous than when one alcoholic in recovery helps another alcoholic in recovery. This is, in fact, the foundation, the basic element of Alcoholics Anonymous. The power of the network has proven, over time, to be the secret ingredient to triumph in long-term sobriety.
In conclusion, we leave you with what is so apparent: To take sobriety as seriously as you take life’s breaths. To learn the fundamentals as a foundation for transformation. And to embrace others as the conduit to the cure of the drink problem.
Let us sharpen our pencils… for to learn is to live.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast titled #138 "Begin Again" with special guest Gary” The podcast dropped on 11/15/23. 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.