One of the hardest things to accomplish living without drugs and alcohol has been the ability to establish a routine. This is vitally important to staying sober. Anyone who completes any type of recovery program usually leaves with a daily plan in place, and for those of us recovering from addictions, more often than not this plan is centered around AA or NA meetings. Maybe this is a good thing. I am still a rookie at this not drinking thing. I am attempting to do this without meetings; however, I still practice many of the principals, such as prayer, not one drink, and honesty.
I have no confessions to make this article (In an earlier article I ‘confessed’ to marijuana use since getting ‘sober’). I am now nine months sober from all other illicit, non-prescribed drugs and alcohol. However, the obsessions are just as strong. I learned a lot those few weeks last fall. I learned that complacency is a leading cause of relapse. The addictive voice I have will always be there telling me, “It has been awhile. One beer will not kill me, I only live once.” And you may read that line and easily say in your head, ‘Come on Aaron, you know better, you know you should not drink.’ However it is impossible for me to put in words how at times that voice justifying one drink seems so honest, so sincere. It seems too sensible that in choosing to deny that sense, I feel ridiculous. What is the point stressing over it? When I look deeper, these thoughts have yet to turn to action because I have created somewhat of a routine for myself.
Routines are important for everyone. For many people, it is a struggle to break out of a routine. A delicate line must be walked by everyone, I believe, between ‘living it up’ and still keeping to a schedule. I feel that those of us who live with addictions often go too far with that ‘living it up’ part, and could care less with keeping a schedule. Again, this is a general opinion as I know folks who have fallen into certain addictions as a result of a strenuous daily routine. For these folks, drugs became their quick escape that never ended, and before they knew it a strenuous routine turned into no routine.
Time is quite the concept. How important is time to you? For me, for many years, time meant nothing. I woke up whenever my body was recovered from the previous night’s intake of drugs and alcohol. I would grab my wallet and see that truly it was empty. And the last thing I wanted to do, or would do, is work. The mission became, get cash somehow, and get drunk as soon as possible. It was sick, I was sick. My routine was to get drunk and that was about it. Any thought relating to time really was void. I did not think about yesterday, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. To the same regard, I did not think about how I was hurting my loved ones. I was living on one end of the spectrum. The other end I could only fantasize about.
You know the other end as well, if not better, than you know what I just described. Some folks live to the second. The alarm rings to the same time every morning, the church bell sounds across the street as the car pulls out of the driveway with the school bus appearing in the rear view mirror. Lunch is at noon, precisely, and back at the desk at exactly half past. I could get into even more detail because that half hour is too scheduled down to the minuet. The whole damn month is scheduled! You know these folks — you may even be one. This can only go on for so long until something naturally needs to come in to break it up. It may take five, ten, or twenty years before a new routine emerges. However, the quicker the better, because I do not believe this is any more healthy for someone than the problem I had of having no routine.
Like most things in life, it is somewhere in the middle that tends to work out. This is obviously much easier said than done, and honestly I believe, is one of the hardest battles in life. You could say it is all about the Benjamins, which holds some significant weight, however even with the Benjamins, if you do not have some type of routine you might as