It is common for those in recovery from an alcohol addiction to mistakenly think that they are cured after a few years. Some may be of the opinion that they do not have to continue going to fellowship support meetings, or that they are able to cut off all contact with their sponsor. Others even believe that it would be okay for them to have the occasional drink at a party. Unfortunately, none of this is true.
If you are in such a position, it may seem as though you are cured as you do not crave alcohol any longer, and you feel good about yourself. However, there is no cure for alcoholism. You can treat and manage the illness, but it will always be there, underneath the surface, threatening to appear again. The reason you are feeling and looking good is that you are no longer drinking alcohol.
It is hard for some individuals to accept that alcoholism has no cure. Denial is part and parcel of addiction, and it often appears again in recovery. Those who feel good can start to convince themselves that they are completely better and that maybe they didn’t really have an addiction at all.
The truth is that alcoholism is an illness that requires long-term maintenance. Those who have managed to make it through the processes of detox and rehabilitation will have to ensure they work hard for the rest of their lives to stay sober. It is all too easy to convince yourself that you are better and that you would be fine to have one or two drinks on an occasional basis. Nevertheless, once you start drinking again, you are in danger of old habits rearing their head, and you could end up right back where you started once more.
You might have heard about some former alcoholics practising controlled drinking and believe that you could benefit from this too. The reality is that this very rarely works out well. It may be the case that you can have one or two drinks every so often for a while, but it is unlikely to stay this way.
The recovering alcoholic is in danger of relapse whether he or she has been in recovery for one year or thirty years. If you get careless about working your programme, you are in danger of slipping back to your old ways.
Cutting Down on Meetings
If you feel good about your recovery, what you can do is reduce the number of meetings you attend. Many people will go to a fellowship support meeting around three or four times per week in the early days of recovery. Nonetheless, after a while, you may find that you can easily drop to one or two meetings per week.
Some worry that if they reduce the time they spend at meetings, they will be in danger of relapse. However, it is important for those in recovery to begin to get back to normal. While attendance at meetings should continue, the frequency can be reduced in order to allow the individual to spend more time with loved ones or doing things he or she enjoys.
If you believe you have built a solid foundation for your recovery, you can start to cut back on the number of meetings you attend. It is important for your fellowship programme to fit around your life and not the other way around.
You may want to get back to work, and if so, look at attending a meeting at the weekend or during the evening when you have finished work. One thing to bear in mind, however, is the fact that even if you do cut back on your meetings, you can start attending more again if you feel your recovery is a little bit shaky. Fellowship attendance is flexible. Nevertheless, you should not stop completely as to do so could put your recovery in jeopardy.