The Big Book repeats over and over that our disease centers in our alcoholic minds. As alcoholics, the drinking is just a symptom of the all-encompassing spiritual maladjustment, and sometimes those working strong programs find that the disease can manifest in different areas even after the drugs and alcohol are long gone.
Ideally, we should be channeling that obsession with our spiritual lives (as goofy as that may sound to the newcomer), but that rarely occurs without some trial and error, and that usually means more unnecessary pain and suffering. In other words, our stubbornness works against us yet again.
No, instead we choose to channel it into sex, work, music, hobbies, or “money, marbles, and chalk” as they used to say.
The problem is that these things are external, and as such, they do nothing to fill the spiritual void we as alcoholics and addicts inherently have. Of course, we tried this before with drugs and alcohol, so we should know by now that this is a faulty path. Sure, they are great distractions, but that doesn’t amount to much for long-term survivability.
Beyond that, though, is that it also can lead down the path to relapse. Now, to be clear, we aren’t saying that your appreciation for vintage oilcans is going to have you smoking crack again in a week.
Instead, what we are saying is that these distractions can distract us to the point that we don’t perform our normal maintenance for our sobriety. Without that regular maintenance, the disease—in it’s remarkable cunning—takes us away, little by little, from our program; and when we don’t maintain our program, it is only a matter of time before that bold defiance rears its ugly head once again.
When that happens, needless to say, our spiritual and mental defenses are so corroded that even the slightest bump can bring whatever barriers we had thundering down.
In the end it has nothing to do with the distraction itself, and everything to do with the alcoholic or addict. Because of this, our behavior and attitude to things can look almost identical to when we were drinking and using. We didn’t get clean and sober to be consumed by something else, nor did our loved ones endure so much pain and heartache to watch us jump from the pan into the fryer.
We all need personal time—somewhere we can go or something we can do that helps us unwind. When we become myopically focused on that, though, is where trouble starts.
So what do we do when we find ourselves in these positions? What else—call our sponsors!