Am I a Dry Drunk?

In addiction recovery, complacency breeds old behavior, which can quickly lead to unnecessary problems, including relapse.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains complacency on page 85. It says, “It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”

In my early days in recovery, I heard old-timers sharing that our addictions were right outside the door, waiting for us, and they were doing pushups to get even stronger. They told those of us who were new in recovery, floating on that pink cloud of contentedness, that we needed to stay vigilant because alcoholism is tricky. It loves an alcoholic who is no longer paying attention.

I would be willing to bet that many alcoholics who relapse after having a period of sobriety do so because they become complacent. It happened to me. I had nearly seven years of sobriety and didn’t think I would drink again. But I got complacent with my recovery, and guess what happened? Yep. I relapsed. I had stopped going to meetings, didn’t have a sponsor, and certainly wasn’t living according to the principles of the program. That was almost three years ago. Thank God I haven’t taken a drink since then, but that doesn’t mean I have remained vigilant. In fact, I haven’t. I let my guard down, and my spiritual condition suffered. I fell into old, unhealthy behaviors and got resentful. And that all happened without my noticing.

Fortunately, my husband, Austin, noticed. He saw the signs and said, in the most loving way he could, that he thought I might be headed toward being a dry drunk. I think he was right. I knew that I was sometimes hard to be around. I was restless, irritable, and discontented. But I hadn’t put it together that what I had was untreated alcoholism. I had all the symptoms; I just hadn’t taken a drink yet. I had begun to take my recovery for granted. I think that subconsciously I believed that going to recovery meetings, church, Bible studies, and the like were enough to keep me spiritually fit. I got complacent with my recovery program.

When my husband called my attention to it, I was shocked. Really! I was so surprised to hear him say the words that I didn’t know how to respond. That didn’t last long, though. We talked about it, and I could definitely see the points he was making. I wasn’t doing anything at all to proactively maintain my recovery. I went to meetings sporadically, hadn’t opened my Big Book for a long time, didn’t have a sponsor, and was not practicing AA principles in all my affairs. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the same scenario that I was living in 2019 when I relapsed. But this time, I had the opportunity to do something about it before I made things worse.

I knew I had to get a sponsor and get back to actively working a program. So, I asked a friend in the program I trust if he knew any women with healthy programs who sponsor people. He did. He introduced me to my new sponsor, and we’ve been working together for a couple of months. It feels great to get back into the literature and the steps. I need that. I need a program. I need a sponsor.

Where would I be if Austin hadn’t dared to say those difficult words to me? I don’t know. Probably still sober, but maybe not. But whether I relapsed or not, I would still be living with untreated alcoholism.

Thank God I don’t have to live like that anymore.

Back with the Good, Bad, and Ugly of My Addiction Recovery

Here I am. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Not because I don’t have anything to say about recovery anymore, but just because life gets busy sometimes. The last couple of years have not let me down in that area, that’s for sure. We’ve settled into life in Alabama, and I am in love with living in a small, southern town. It’s beautiful here, and things move at a slower pace. And we have goats! Can you even imagine? A girl who grew up in a city with over a million people in the metro area now milks a goat every day! There are so many differences between how I used to live and how I do now – but that’s a blog post of its own. One to come later.

Since the last time I posted, my daughter Kari has moved here from Arizona. Any of you who know my history or have read my blog from the early days know just how much this is years of prayers answered. I couldn’t be happier that we are now a household of four and that everyone gets along and loves one another. The plan is for my daughter to move next door into the house we’re renovating as soon as it’s finished. So she’ll have her own space but still be close. Perfect, if you ask me.

As far as my recovery goes, I’m still sober. This is pretty awesome, considering how much we’ve all been through since the beginning of 2020. We did all get COVID…twice. But we made it through the sickness and quarantining with most of our wits about us and still talking to each other.

So, what’s going on now? I’ve wanted to get back to doing some personal writing for a while. I thought about starting a new blog because I am at such a different place in my life than I was before. Maybe I would write about life in the South, being a new goat owner, or even about hitting the age of 50 and dealing with menopause (which totally sucks, btw). But, for some reason, I always came back to addiction recovery.

I truly owe the life I have now to getting sober and working a program of recovery. There have been many bumps along the way when I became complacent and made messes of things. I definitely do not have it all together (as you will see in upcoming posts), but I do have over a decade’s worth of recovery experiences to share, and there are some things that I have done right along the way. I hope to share all those things – the good, the bad, and, of course, the ugly – here on Sober Grace in the coming months.