I haven’t drank alcohol since November 1, 2002. My life was destroyed. I cried out to God and He moved. I went to prison and with God, I’ve rebuilt my life. I am no longer tempted to drink or use.
But, let’s face it. This life is a battle. It’s tough for anyone, but for people who are trying to stay clean, there are a few extra struggles. One of those struggles is the bar scene.
It seems like everybody drinks or uses. It seems like there is nothing to do, that doesn’t involve alcohol or partying, or other addictions in some way. It’s a Friday and Saturday night battle to find something to do.
But, that is just a perception. There are tons of things to do, like church, spiritual pursuits, hobbies, movies, volunteering, camping, working out, shopping, just to name a few. I know it seems boring. And it’s not quite as exciting as getting drunk and going to jail. I know the struggle you might have with these things. I have struggled too, saying “Am I really going to waste my life on Netflix?” Course, then I say “I was wasting my life in bars, so why not on Netflix?” I normally go out to eat on Friday and Saturday night, or spend my time traveling.
Let’s be real though, alcohol, drugs, and partying is everywhere. There are bars on every corner, and going for a drink is so common it’s scary. How do all these people drink and not become a raging alcoholic like me is a mystery to me. I spent quite a bit of time asking myself that exact question. “Why can’t I be a normal drunk?” Well, I’m not. It’s that simple, and I deal with it.
So, if you are in Recovery, the odds are that you will face a dilemma at some point, about whether to join friends at the bar, or get high or not. You might be invited by family. My whole family was at the bar. If I needed a Cousin, or Uncle, they were drinking at the bar. I grew up there. You might be in a work environment where they always go to the bar after work, or conventions, or office parties. Alcohol might be all around your work life.
I had to get away from everything that tempted me. First, I was in prison which helped by getting me away from things. But, after release I avoided everything that involved alcohol. You might need to do the same. You know what tempts you, and what you can handle. But, don’t be deceived, you are not as strong as you think, or else you would not be here reading this or having trouble. Always lean toward avoiding the drugs and alcohol and the people who draw you in.
The first thing to do is Pray and watch God move. Be honest with yourself, and others. When you are faced with a situation that will bring you into contact with your temptation, just say no. I know it’s hard, but do it. When people ask you to join them in drinking, or partying or whatever the addiction is, tell them the truth and see what happens. They will probably not bother with you anymore. But, that’s actually a good thing because you need to avoid your addictions for as long as you can. This is not a quick battle. It’s a marathon for the long haul.
In my life, I avoided the heavy bar scene. When I first started, it was easy to avoid. But, now most good restaurants serve alcohol. It’s unavoidable, unless I refuse to go out to eat.
Think about it. If a football player gets injured, they are not really healed if they never play again. That’s not a healing, the goal is to be healed and get back in the game. Likewise, we addicts need time to heal. We need time to get away, but our goal is to get back into the game of life and have a normal existence. That’s not to say that we go back to our old ways, because we can’t. But, we forge better ways, and a new life. We have to be able to be around the temptation without falling. That is when we are healed. So, now I can go to restaurants that serve alcohol with no problem. It’s growth. It doesn’t bother me. I have gone to wineries, and listened to music. I’ve gone to bars, and listened to music. But, I still avoid the heavy bar scene.
You know what I mean. There are bars that are restaurants, and there are straight up bars. I avoid those, unless there is a compelling reason to be there, and I will never go when the juices are flowing, and the party is getting heavy after 9 pm.
And that’s our life. That’s the life of an addict. We must avoid certain things that can push our buttons. I have grown to hate certain things, and don’t mind avoiding them. For example, I hate babysitting drunks. I will help anyone in need and be a designated driver when needed, but I hate babysitting drunks. Doing it has shown me how bad and stupid I was. I also hate how alcohol is a part of everything. I understand it. But, I hate the temptation it has on people and how it destroys them, and gets them to do things that ruins them.
I want you to know that you are not alone. There are tons of us who are having that daily battle to change who we are. Not just addiction, but in every way.
The fact is that you must learn to hate it. Not the people or life, or to have hate in your heart. But, to hate what you have become and what has happened to you, and what it does to others. This will help you in your battle to avoid, and overcome the enemy that keeps pulling you down. Create alternate things to do that you love, and pray. Always pray. God is with you and listening.
(Photograph is of Pittsburgh, PA at night.)