The Key To Sobriety

Do the number of days clean really matter?

"Shnook" has been posting on our forum for the last 6 months or so, trying to reach 90 days again and again... and failing. Recently, Shnook began working the 12-Steps with Chaim Duvid's groups and things are starting to turn around. 

by Shnook (See all authors)

Ever since joined GYE I've had this argument with others on the forum: "Do the number of days clean really matter?"

I don't know how to fully express this, but please believe me when I say I REALLY know what I am saying. It's so hard for me to fully develop this into a coherent explanation, but I feel it's one of the most important concepts of sobriety there is, so I am going to try my best to express it properly. Please, I ask you to bear with me and try to understand, and approach what I am saying without prior prejudices.

Don't judge until you are finished reading, because I KNOW THIS to be the truth now, and it was a really hard-earned truth, which I fought and struggled for months to reach:

1. Cleanliness: In order to fully absorb the lessons taught in programs like the 12-steps and the 'GYE Attitude' booklet, you have to be sober for a few days. Why? Because when one's head is absorbed in the insanity, no matter how much the person might want to be clean, the filth is still tugging and affecting their perceptions.

This is not just my own opinion, it is written straight out in the 12-step program; i.e. that it is advisable to be sober for at least a few days before starting the program. (Step zero of the 12-Steps is: "STOP").

And after trying both ways, clean and not clean, I GUARANTEE that the 12-steps are not effective unless clean. It's not enough to want to diet if you're still eating chocolate cake. Your mind will NOT accept fully what it needs to accept while the insanity is still there.

2. A program: Also, you CANNOT stay clean without some form of a program. Why? Because staying clean without growth is just 'pushing off the inevitable'. It's like crash dieting vs. changing your eating habits. In a crash diet, you will lose 5 pounds quickly, but they'll come back eventually - anyone who has ever crash dieted knows this. Also, during the whole crash diet, the person feels so anxious and they definitely aren't "healthy".

So too, anyone who has just tried to stop acting out without working on 'growing' from there, is plagued with anxiety and eventually will give in and fall. And when they do, it feels horrible, like they will never get up again. This is EVEN IF THEY REACHED 90 DAYS.

On the other hand, someone who is working on changing their eating habits seriously, then even if once in a while they slip up and eat a cookie at a kiddush, the pounds will come off slowly but surely. Also, they will feel so HEALTHY and energized during it all - because they are changing for the better and for ever.

So too, it is important for us as addicts to learn not only how to stem the flow of blood from this gaping wound of ours, but how to grow and change our entire outlook, lifestyles, goals and motivations for living. Our ENTIRE LIVES must make a turnaround, and the only way towards this is through growth in a program.

Summary: I agree it's not about the 90 days, per se. In fact, often those who reach 90 days will ultimately fall back... Why? They need to ask themselves: What is the main goal of the 90-day journey? AND THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT CONCEPT - one that has taken me ALL THESE 6 MONTHS to realize: The 90 days are so that (A) your neural passages are fixed and whatnot, BUT that's not even the main point. The main point is (B) the hope that within these 90 days, the person will be doing a program, so that eventually it's NOT about 90 days for the person anymore. It's so that the person is able to see the whole picture for what it is: a lifetime mission of sobriety.

And we CANNOT see the whole picture without both sobriety and a program.

90 days is not magic, it's just a number to aim for staying clean while you work through a program, because you need to be sober as you are growing and learning. OTHERWISE IT'S NOT REAL SOBRIETY.

90 days ensures cleanliness forhopefully enough time for the person to absorb the necessary concepts to head down a path of REAL SOBRIETY.

This is why it is VITAL that BOTH parts be done seriously, fully, and hand in hand. A person MUST be clean and MUST be working some sort of program in order to reach sobriety. Otherwise, there's just no way. And that explains the 90 days.

I cannot stress ENOUGH the difference between my sobriety now - as I work through the program with no 'monkey business', as opposed to all those other times. It makes no difference if I might fall in the near future. I am on an upward trend. I am building and not just HOLDING OFF THE INEVITABLE. The inevitable is not inevitable anymore. I am not aiming for 90 days, I am aiming for a lifetime of happiness. I am in a PROCESS right now. It is such a difference.

But I know I can talk myself blue in the face and some people will just have to go make their own mistakes...

I just want, after you've gone and messed it up and you feel depressed - like there is no way for you to beat this, I just want so badly for you to come back to this post.

Come back, read it, and then start over 'aiming for 90' while seriously and meticulously following the 12-step program, or something similar.

And then you will feel the difference... And your life can finally take a definitive change for the absolute better. You are WORTH IT.