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Old 10-23-2007, 02:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Abstinence vs Recovery - Is There A Difference?

There's an interesting website that I was directed to awhile ago, and I've just been re-reading it again. It makes an interesting point about abstinence versus recovery, and I was wondering what everyone else thinks:

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(From this website)

Abstinence vs Recovery

Abstinence from alcohol & drug use on the one hand and recovery from alcoholism & addiction on the other represent two very different states. Sometimes the boundaries between the two become blurred, but they're definitely there. Read on...
Some alcoholics and addicts become abstinent but do not enter recovery. Abstinent, but not recovering, alcoholics and addicts show the following attitudes and behaviors:
  • They maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs because to drink and/or use again would most likely cause more problems.
  • They don't enjoy being sober and clean, miss getting high, and feel disappointed in or angry about being abstinent.
  • They maintain abstinence through will-power and believe that strong will-power is adequate for continued abstinence.
  • They would like to drink and/or use again and would do so if reasonably sure that prior problems would not recur.

Some alcoholics and addicts are not only abstinent but also in recovery. Recovering alcoholics and addicts show the following attitudes and behaviors:
  • They maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs because to drink and/or use again would compromise the quality of life found in sobriety.
  • They enjoy being sober and clean and feel grateful for sobriety.
  • They utilize resources instead of or in addition to will-power to maintain sobriety and to learn healthier ways to think, feel, and act.
  • They have no desire to drink or use again and would not do so even if reasonably sure that problems would not recur.

The bottom line is this:

Make no bones about it; moving out of alcoholism & addiction, through abstinence, and into recovery does not happen by accident or by magic. It requires time, patience, and above all - action.
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You've just described the difference between being sober(in recovery) and being in a dry drunk(abstinent).
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Music...you beat me to it. I have known a few people in a dry drunk and they seem to have all the alcoholic behaviors minus the alcohol. Some very testy!

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Old 10-23-2007, 08:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The thing is... I'm not a dry drunk... but I'm definitely struggling right now, and sometimes I think that the only reason I haven't given in to the urge to drink again is because I don't want to disappoint or worry my loved ones. It's guilt, I guess.

I'm in therapy and working hard -- so my commitment to my own recovery is there. But I do have a desire to drink and would if I were "reasonably sure" that no problems would arise.

I just feel like I fall somewhere in between abstinence and recovery, if that's possible.
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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How long have you had this urge?
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Welcome to our Alcoholism Forum Bella..

For me...
Abstinence is black or white.
I am either drinking or I am not.

Recovery flows and ebbs
The less I practice my recovery
the less I benefit.
It's up to me to grow and keep
the joy moving....

I could only find recovery
by maintaining abstinence .

I certainly hope you will find a way
to enjoy sobriety. Recovery Rocks!!
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Pinkcuda View Post
How long have you had this urge?

Well, I haven't had a drink for six years. I should preface with that. I went cold turkey because I moved home to deal with an eating disorder and left the whole lifestyle behind (I had been working in the music industry).

Anyway, throughout the last six years, I haven't really allowed myself to be put in situations that I would find tempting or triggering -- for example, I don't go to parties or clubs, anymore, and I was in a relationship (which just ended) with a guy who was totally straight and narrow and never drank. One thing, though, is that sometimes I would purposely do other things to trigger myself, just in more covert ways. For example, I'd purposely watch movies that I knew would make me miss the lifestyle and I've found that once that happened, I would start getting preoccupied with the thought of drinking again for awhile.

Now, I'm at that point again -- probably prompted by the last six months which have seen the demise of my four-year relationship, a lay-off from my job, and some ongoing health issues. Now, I'm really preoccupied with it. I even found myself doing something juvenile like filling out a "Drinking Survey" on MySpace! What the hell...?

I'm talking to my therapist about this, and he thinks I may need to seek some sort of treatment (OP) because I never did, I just stopped. But I'm racked with guilt. I feel like going to A.A. or a sobriety group or anything else would disappoint my loved ones who have witnessed my sobriety for six years.



Thank you for the inspiring words, Carol.
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Old 10-23-2007, 10:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I couldn't imagine anything but support from loved ones if you are up front and explain the urge to them and you need to go to A.A to deal with it. This is your second post here where you mentioned them. They must mean a lot to you.
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Abstinence vs Recovery - Is There A Difference?
boy, is there ever.

one is like the guy on the roller coaster who's rigid as an icecube... white knuckles gripping the safety bar ... the other - is the guy right behind him ... hands in the air and laughing.
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Bella it sounds to me like you may be stuck in the very beginning of recovery, you want recovery but you have not progressed beyond wanting it.

Quote:
I'm talking to my therapist about this, and he thinks I may need to seek some sort of treatment (OP) because I never did, I just stopped. But I'm racked with guilt. I feel like going to A.A. or a sobriety group or anything else would disappoint my loved ones who have witnessed my sobriety for six years.
Bella what are you paying your therapist for if you are not going to at least try what your therapist suggest?

Except for not drinking what have you done to proceed in your recovery?

I like your therapist, I am willing to bet your therapist is not a recovering alcoholic or addict and is knowledgeable enough to know that the best therapy for an alcoholic or drug addict is participation in either AA/NA or similar programs of recovery.

One thing very important in regards to recovery is that you want to recover for your self and not for some one else, I can attest to that one, I did not quit drinking nor start working towards recovery until I wanted it. My entire family begged, pleaded, and threatened me for years and I would try and quit for them but always failed, it was not until I wanted to stop drinking and begin recovery that I was able to stay stopped and start recovering.

Do YOU want to go back to where YOU were when you were drinking?

If the answer to the above is no then YOU need to ask your self do I want to continue to live the way I am now or do I want to do as my therapist suggest and enter into a recovery program?

Would your loved ones prefer you to be the way you are now, drinking, or happier then you are now?

I know that my loved ones hated me when I was white knuckling sobriety, my wife told me several times that as much as she hated me drinking, she prefered me drunk then the A-hole I became when I was white knuckling sobriety!

All of my loved ones love me in recovery, they like the new me and I do to. I owe my recovery to the program of AA.

If you decide you want recovery then why not follow the advice of the person you are paying for it and do AA or some other recovery program?
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:09 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Hiya!

I loved the website you linked to by the way, very good!

I particularly liked this bit from their home page -

Quote:
Everyone is different, but in a general way, the steps that other people have taken to move through abstinence and into recovery include the following:

First, they acknowledged the problem.
Then they sought and accepted help and support from reliable resources outside of their own egos and will-power.
With that help, they did whatever it took to become abstinent, that is, to stop using alcohol and drugs.
Through the guidance of others, they discovered proven, workable plans to lead them toward recovery.
They integrated the details of those plans into their daily lives and kept the process alive through consistent attention and effort.
They continued to find and utilize resources that deepened their recovery experience by encouraging physical, mental, and spiritual growth and change.
They became resources for others who needed help.
I think we ALL can do with reminders that "integrating the deatils of those plans into our daily lives" and keeping "those processes alive through consistent attention and effort" are the difference between abstinence and recovery.
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:05 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks for your post, Tazman.

I don't know that I'm in the beginning, per se -- I mean I haven't had a drink in six years. And I wasn't a daily drinker, I was a binge drinker. So... ya know.

Also, I don't think it's affecting my happiness because it's been so long, anyway.

As far as progressing in my recovery, I actually think I've done a lot. I've been in therapy for years now and I'm doing the work. The thing is that there has always been so much other baggage to work on that I never really dealt with the drinking. I mean, I stopped -- so it was never really a pressing issue when compared with all the things still going on that needed attention.

I guess I just don't think it's that big of a deal, really.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tazman53 View Post
Bella it sounds to me like you may be stuck in the very beginning of recovery, you want recovery but you have not progressed beyond wanting it.



Bella what are you paying your therapist for if you are not going to at least try what your therapist suggest?

Except for not drinking what have you done to proceed in your recovery?

I like your therapist, I am willing to bet your therapist is not a recovering alcoholic or addict and is knowledgeable enough to know that the best therapy for an alcoholic or drug addict is participation in either AA/NA or similar programs of recovery.

One thing very important in regards to recovery is that you want to recover for your self and not for some one else, I can attest to that one, I did not quit drinking nor start working towards recovery until I wanted it. My entire family begged, pleaded, and threatened me for years and I would try and quit for them but always failed, it was not until I wanted to stop drinking and begin recovery that I was able to stay stopped and start recovering.

Do YOU want to go back to where YOU were when you were drinking?

If the answer to the above is no then YOU need to ask your self do I want to continue to live the way I am now or do I want to do as my therapist suggest and enter into a recovery program?

Would your loved ones prefer you to be the way you are now, drinking, or happier then you are now?

I know that my loved ones hated me when I was white knuckling sobriety, my wife told me several times that as much as she hated me drinking, she prefered me drunk then the A-hole I became when I was white knuckling sobriety!

All of my loved ones love me in recovery, they like the new me and I do to. I owe my recovery to the program of AA.

If you decide you want recovery then why not follow the advice of the person you are paying for it and do AA or some other recovery program?
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:14 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I have a question. What work are you doing? Sounds to me like there isn't much going on in the way of recovery. Granted [U]recovery[U] does ebb and flow, but if I just don't drink because of what the people in and around me think I am doomed. I had to finally quit for MYSELF. Does this therapist have any personal experience with recovery. I know a ton of people that "quit long enough to get someone or something of thier back" the result has most always been the same, more pain and suffering.
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:47 PM   #14 (permalink)
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If every time you drive a car you end up in a wreck, there are two definite ways to correct the problem.

1. You can NEVER drive again and you most assuredly will not get in a car wreck.
Or
2. You can identify what it is that is lacking in your driving skills and seek instruction for those shortcomings in driving skills and employ those lessons and you will avoid the car wrecks that way.

Step #2 allows you to participate in the world of driving (life) and just be aware of those behaviors that cause wrecks. Step#1 removes you from the world of driving and will most certainly keep you from enjoying all the options that driving (life) has to offer.

Driving see AAA
Drinking see AA

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Old 10-24-2007, 03:12 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Driving see AAA
Drinking see AA

Jon
Now that's an analogy I'll remember! Thanks for the chuckle!
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:37 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Abstinence works for some people. I know plenty of acute alcoholics who when presented with certain negative circumstances ( the wife left, the judge wasn't to happy about the 2nd DUI, the job was in jeopardy etc. ) were able and continue to abstain from alcohol. They didn't need to take a spiritual path to deliver themselves from their problems.

I ,qualifying as an alcoholic of the hopeless variety, needed to work the steps in order to recover from the spiritual malady I was suffering from.
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:49 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Well - I am drinking at the moment and I don't get it. I had a good week last week. 6 days off, 7th day just a couple, in company, 10th day - blow out. In the UK I have tried to get antabuse from my Dr - no way. I can do about a week therefore am not alc dependent (physically) but can't get more than a week under my belt.
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Old 10-24-2007, 04:53 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c0n0r0 View Post
Abstinence works for some people. I know plenty of acute alcoholics who when presented with certain negative circumstances ( the wife left, the judge wasn't to happy about the 2nd DUI, the job was in jeopardy etc. ) were able and continue to abstain from alcohol. They didn't need to take a spiritual path to deliver themselves from their problems.

I ,qualifying as an alcoholic of the hopeless variety, needed to work the steps in order to recover from the spiritual malady I was suffering from.

This is kind of how I feel, too. I mean, I've gone six years sober! Who cares if it's willpower? It's not like I've been thinking about alcohol the entire time -- as someone else said, it ebbs and flows, waxes and wanes. I have periods where I'm triggered and struggling, and periods where it's easier or not even an issue.

I think I'm just confused right now.
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Old 10-24-2007, 06:14 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Sober - physical abstinence from alcohol and emotional and spiritual good health

Abstinent - not drinking alcohol.

sounds like you have been abstinent, but not sober.

There is a difference.
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Old 10-24-2007, 06:40 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Bella, I have been where you are at and by the 7th year I was before the first drink and had no defense. What followed was 4 years of a vicious cycle of drinking stopping, drinking stopping, witht he last year being one long binge. I tried the "just not drinking" until I could just not stand myself any longer. that's when I returned to AA almost 7 months ago. It was then that I was willing to go to any length neccesary to recover. I wanted it to be about just not drinking. I really did. But for a real alcoholic like myself it just doesn't work. So, the real question you have to ask yourself is are you a real alcoholic. If the answer is yes, then the only solution is a spiritual remedy. My experience with just not drinking, but not recovering was pure misery. Many a real alcoholics die an alcoholic death due this business of just not drinking. An alcoholic like myself suffers from a spiritual malady. We are driven by a hundred forms of fear and without a spiritual fix it is inevitable that we will drink again. I hope you find a path that will lead to recovery, because you describe exactly what I have experienced. A place I do not ever want to go back to.
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