A common slogan heard in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step venues is, "Easy does it." But in reality, newly recovering addicts are told to do so many things to maintain their abstinence that none of it seems particularly "easy."
The Chaos of Meetings
First off, there are the meetings themselves, which seem scary and strange. These people laugh at the darnedest things, they chant and clap, and sometimes sing "Happy Birthday" to those who celebrate sober anniversary dates.
And there are all these unknown behaviors to get acquainted with - when to talk and when to be quiet, praying, moments of silence, where to sit, sharing or not sharing in a meeting, what to say and what to NOT say, calling a sponsor and getting phone numbers from other sober members to begin with. People spouting all kinds of slogans that make no sense, going to any length (whatever that means), working the steps, reading the book, working with a sponsor.
So the slogan "easy does it" seems quite ridiculous in the face of all that bombardment of information. Being overwhelmed by all the new input, many a newly recovering addict has turned and fled, deciding that there is just too much to do to remain abstinent. They will either decide not to do it at all or to do it totally on their own. These are both very poor choices to make.
Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten
That's why we constantly say "easy does it." An overwhelmed addict is in trouble. They will begin to make very poor choices and engage in self-destructive behaviors. Believing that they can never do ALL of what is required to maintain their abstinence, they will do none of it.
Therefore, "easy does it" becomes appropriate advice. Finding a beginning point with the help of their support group, the recovering addict makes an inroad by continuing to attend meetings. This is where they will have the opportunity to strengthen their resolve to remain abstinent. That is why the phrase "easy does it" is important and has been a part of the culture of recovery meetings for over 75 years.
Addicts, by nature, can be characterized as having "black and white thinking" or "all or nothing" ways of seeing things. When they are faced with more than can possibly be processed in a single moment, they tend to become panicked and destroy any chances for progress. Therefore, it is continually recommended that they take their recovery in small steps and progress from point A to point B. There is no race, and no winners in this arena - only those who recover and those who scare themselves right out the door and into the arms of their waiting and very patient addiction.