Guest Holiday Article From ‘The Fix.’ Is A 12-Step Program All You Have In Your Life? By Katie MacBride

I am starting my New Recovery Holiday Article Share series with an interesting topic and question. As in many Gamblers Anonymous meetings I have attended, I have heard some say that they gave up all their friends and are only friends with their GA, AA, or NA pals that they meet. They only go to 12-step functions like dances, holiday parties and more.  I don’t know if that is a healthy and well-balanced recovery. DO YOU?  Does AA, GA, Na or others have to be your life?

We have had the talk here before if 12-Step Programs is the only way to recovery from addiction, and most said no not really.  Now please, I am not knocking the 12-steps at all. My experience was I attended to be with other like -minded people looking to recover and as support. So let’s read another perspective about this and share how you feel about this in my comments. I like to know what others in recovery have to say. So share your VOICE  .  .  .  .

Does AA Have to Be My Life?
By Katie MacBride of The Fix Magazine

Dear Katie,

“Have you ever heard someone in the rooms say that we live AA and visit life? My sponsor tells me that but sometimes I have a hard time with it because I don’t feel like I got sober just to go to AA all the time, I got sober so that I could live my life. But she seems to believe that you get sober through AA so you have to live the AA triangle all the time. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with that because I think the point of AA is to bring the principles with you into how you handle your everyday life. Could you offer your opinion on that?”

Spend enough time in or around 12-step programs and you’ll have aphorisms coming out your ears. Many of these are useful—whether or not one is in a 12-step program or not. (I’m a big fan of HALT, even though I thought it was incredibly stupid when I first heard it—more on that here.)

I always think of Sandra Bullock in the movie 28 Days when she’s mocking her treatment counselor for telling her to take it “one day at a time.” She scoffs, “‘One day at a time,’ what is that? I mean like two, three days at a time is an option? I don’t need the Romper Room bullshit.”

All the “Romper Room bullshit” can be annoying as hell, especially when the person reciting it seems way too cheerful and peppy for somebody, not on drugs, a drinker, or addicted gambler. There’s a reason for those irritating sayings, though. When something happens that makes us consider drinking or using, we often don’t have time for lengthy, well-reasoned arguments about why it’s a bad idea.

If we’re lucky, we have time to get one annoyingly oversimplified and yet somehow appropriate saying between our ears. That one phrase has to be easily accessible through the fog of our craving and snap us back to reality. It has to remind us of what it was like when we were drinking and using, and why we work so hard to stay sober. It turns out those quippy little Romper Room quotes are great for that. I’m not familiar with the saying “live in AA and visit life,” but what I have heard—and am guessing your sponsor means—is “don’t put the life AA gave you in front of your AA life.”


Image result for 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program


This, like many of the aphorisms, can seem both confusing and annoying. What is the difference between the life AA gave you and your AA life? Isn’t it all just…your life? Or, as you more eloquently put it, isn’t the “point of AA to bring the principles with you into how you handle your everyday life”? The short answer is yes. We get sober so we can live our lives. The tools that we learn in recovery, whether through a 12-step program or some other treatment program, are skills that you’ll take into the world with you as you go along in your everyday life.

Your sponsor (if I am understanding her correctly) is also right, in that you can’t get complacent about recovery. This is one of the biggest points of contention among those who dislike AA. It’s a cult, some folks will say, they make you go to meetings forever! They tell you to put AA before anything else! How can you live a normal life if you’re supposed to be focused on AA for the rest of it? These are the kind of claims that can make someone trying to figure out the new and complicated world of sobriety overwhelmed and completely freaked out. So let’s break down what it means.

Without getting into the disease controversy, or the “is AA, GA, or NA the best method” controversy, there is one thing about addiction and recovery that are unequivocally true:

If you want to no longer be actively addicted to something, you need to behave, and ultimately think, differently than you did when you were actively addicted. It sounds simple, but anyone who has tried to do it can attest to how difficult it is to accomplish. So the goal of any recovery program (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, AA, SMART Recovery) is to help an addict break their long established patterns of substance use.

It doesn’t end at just breaking the habits, though. Another thing you’ll hear people in recovery say is, “Getting sober is easy, staying sober is hard.” I don’t know that I’d ever call getting sober “easy,” but we often have more motivation to get sober than we do to stay sober. When I had ravaged my life as a result of my drinking, I had no choice but to build from ground zero up.

If I needed a reminder as to why I shouldn’t drink, all I had to do was look at the barren wasteland around me and the rubble beneath my feet. As I rebuilt my life, the barren wasteland changed into a vibrant city. My world was (and is) now comprised of people, places, and things and it’s tempting to become lost in that. There’s nothing wrong with living a full life outside your program of recovery, but there may be a danger becoming so preoccupied with it that you stop doing the WORK to maintain that recovery.



People who undergo treatment for depression with a combination of therapy, medication, and exercise may not maintain that program with the same vigilance 10 years down the road as they did when they first entered treatment, but some ongoing maintenance will likely always be necessary.

The same is true for addiction. But addiction is a sneaky jerk, and alcohol and drug use are so commonplace that it’s not hard to forget that as addicts, we can’t use those things with impunity. I got sober at 23 years old and I can’t count the number of times I’ve wondered “maybe it was just a phase and I could drink ‘normally’ now,” even though I have literally no evidence to support that thought and abundant evidence to the contrary.

It’s also easy to get wrapped up in what being an addict/alcoholic means for the rest of your life. At the risk of tossing my own Romper Room slogan into the mix: try not to worry about it and take it…yep…one day at a time. Keep doing what’s working for you now. Remember what your life was like before sobriety and do what you need to do to hold on to your recovery.

The rest will work itself out.

Please visit Author, Katie MacBride over at The Fix Magazine and get all your questions answered about addiction and recovery.

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author, and Columnist at “In Recovery Magazine’s The Author’s Cafe.”  My ebook is now on Sale at  Amazon Kindle Store  . . . .



A Special Memorial Weekend Share From, ‘New Life Recovery Outreach’ Aaron Emerson.

Hello Recovery Friends and Welcome New Friends,


best new life pic

A really good friend, and recovery supporter of mine, has a wonderful recovery website that he shares so much about his recovery journey on. His name is Aaron Emerson, of New Life Recovery Outreach, located in the state of Michigan. He recently completed and earned his recovery coach training certificate that he has worked hard to accomplish. So congrats Aaron! I’m so proud of you! He has really come a long way. He took that step to not only be of recovery service to others, but now he will be able to help others reaching out for recovery on a deeper level.

I happen to pop over to his websites blog, and I came across this new blog post written/courtesy of Alyssa Craig.
It is an in-depth look at what we need to do when we come out of rehab/treatment to have a well-balanced recovery, and we all know how uncomfortable we feel when we are first released. This post is important as it gives you a great outline of what needs to be done on a daily basis. It may even help you make that ‘elusive’ 1st year mark in recovery.
I always say that ‘relapse’ does not need to happen, or be a part of your recovery journey when grasping a foot hold to long-term recovery. So without further ado, here is the Blog Share from New Life Recovery Outreach.

Building A New Life After Rehab

Starting a new life after rehab can be difficult and overwhelming. Use the suggestions below to help you navigate your way to a better life.


Where you live will play a big role in creating an environment that will either be beneficial or detrimental to your recovery. Take some time to evaluation your home, neighborhood, and the people that will be surrounding you. If any of these situations will be harmful to your recovery and pose a threat to staying clean, it will be necessary to move to a new location. Find a home in a new neighborhood or community that will be supportive. One great way to do this is to live in a home with others who are also recovering from addiction. You will be able to support one another and also be able to empathize with each other.


Work will play an important role in life after rehab as it provides a place to stay well occupied and offers the opportunity to be productive. Just as the home environment should be supportive, the workplace should be too. If your previous job had people or situations that perpetuated your substance abuse, find a new job. Low stress jobs will be best, as stress can be a major trigger for relapse.

As you hunt for a job, keep a positive attitude. Job hunting is difficult for everyone (not just those in recovery) and it can sometimes take quite a while to find a good fit. As suggested in this article, be wary of labeling yourself as “unsuccessful” when the job hunt gets difficult. Keep it up and you will find what you need.

Family Dynamics

Addiction is something that weighs heavily on not only the person suffering from it, but also their family members. After coming home from rehab, there will likely be work needed to rebuild healthy family relationships. Family therapy is a great way to do this and can help each family member address how the addiction has affected them.

Family members will likely be a huge source of support during this time, so it is important to strive for complete honesty and open communication. If you find you have family members still engaging in behavior that is harmful to you, or who you feel don’t support your sober lifestyle, it is just as acceptable to distance yourself from them as necessary.

Support Groups

Building a network of support around you as you build your new life will be incredibly important. One great way to do this is with support groups, as you can obtain answers to questions you may still have about addiction as you navigate recovery. You will have access to others going through similar difficulties and receive counsel on how to work through your challenges. Many twelve step programs also offer the opportunity to take advantage of a sponsor. This person will be someone with more experience in recovery and can offer support and assistance. You can also check with your rehab center, as many will keep in touch even after a client leaves to give some of this needed support.

Social Networks

The people you choose to have in your life will probably be one of the biggest changes you will need to instigate. You will quickly find those who you thought were friends before are not true friends and do not have your best interests in mind. Find sober friends and build stable relationships with them. This means letting go of those who could pose a threat to relapse. In terms of romantic relationships, hold off on pursuing a new one for at least one year after rehab.

Nutrition and Exercise

Addiction is incredibly destructive to the physical body, as an addict, many have given priority to the substance abuse, rather than to their health. Creating healthy habits will help your body to continue to heal through the recovery process. Eat as nutritious as possible. Getting the body the nutrients it needs is the priority. Follow the basic FDA nutrition guidelines, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Giving your body the fuel it needs to heal itself is the key.

Exercise is a not only a great coping mechanism, but it can also help to reduce cravings and decrease the risk of relapse due to the release of dopamine in the brain. Find ways to be active each day whether this is going to the gym, taking a yoga class, running around the neighborhood, or even simply going for a walk each night.


Addiction and recovery are difficult and there will be many differences between your life before rehab and your life afterward. It is important to not take on too many responsibilities at once, as this will only lead to feeling overwhelmed. Cut yourself some slack and little by little, you can build a brilliant new life for yourself.

New Life Recovery Outreach
Supporting Pathways To Recovery And Changing The Face Of Addiction

About New Life:

New Life Recovery is an outreach in Mason, Michigan that has a main mission to promote recovery from substance abuse and alcoholism within the Lansing region.  Started by a recovering heroin addict, we strive to encourage change and recovery, change the stigma attached to addiction, and to support and promote the recovery movement within the area.  We do this through a regularly updated blog, where we share personal recovery stories,  explore and explain different services in the professional and non-profit substance abuse field in the Lansing area, and give helpful writings and news on addiction.

*If you want to share your story of recovery on our blog, please get a hold of us.  We love to share the many voices of recovery and put a face on addiction to change the stigma!

Who We Are:

Aaron Emerson, RC: Aaron has been in recovery from heroin and opiate addiction since May 16, 2013.  He is a Certified Recovery Coach through the Connecticut Community For Addiction Recovery (CCAR), serves on the advisory board of Families Against Narcotics, is a board member for the Mason Capital Area Prescription Drug Task Force, and is a writer for Mason Today, a community newspaper in Mason, Michigan.

Wes Emerson: Wes is the father of Aaron and is the Senior Pastor of New Life Fellowship, a church in Leslie, Michigan.  He has been in the ministry for over 35 years, 30 of them as a Senior Pastor. Wes earned his Masters Degree in Christian Ministry from Huntington University.  He is also a big proponent in helping loved ones of addicts/alcoholics find peace and learn how to best support their loved one.


NEED HELP? Give us a call at 517-763-5503 or email us at

Family members that are looking for advice or help, email us at There are options for you, as well, including getting hooked up with a group of people in the same situation as you that just want to help.

*Catherine* XOXO