Sustaining long term recovery

By Daniel Wittler

I am blessed to have been sober almost four years at this point in life. I think of that number four and I can not believe it. I spent many years attempting to get sober, staying sober for a few months/weeks and then falling back into my terrible habits very quickly and heading back into detox. I see this alot, chronic relapsers some will call these types of people, they are my favorite to help because once they finally see how to truly get and stay sober, they are the most passionate ones. I know I am passionate about helping because I was someone who thought that my destiny was to be a failure my whole life. I was so hopeless from countless attempts to get sober that failed. Thankfully, when I finally got desperate enough, I saw that there were actions that had to be taken very seriously, and not just for a few months but for the long term. I’d like to share some of those things with you.


A big reason I kept coming up short in recovery was because I thought I knew what I had to do. Every single time whether I was in treatment or was just coming back to a meeting after a relapse, people would make some suggestions and I always would say “Yeah, I know” and then do whatever I thought was right. Whatever I thought was right to do always led me back out. Humility to me is the practice of being teachable and it is invaluable in early recovery. My first year of sobriety this time was filled with me asking others I trusted constantly what to do and simply listening, no arguments, no ‘yeah, buts’ just simply ‘ok’ and I would go and do what was suggested. Of course while doing that, I got the best results I had ever gotten in recovery by far. I always tell people, if you knew what you had to do to get sober you would of done it a long time ago. Remember,always remain teachable.


If I had one theme that carried through my life story, it was lack of discipline. I had always been the king of doing something new and productive for a few days, maybe even a week and then dropping it. Whether it was practicing something new, eating healthy, exercising again, anything like that I always started out great and puttered soon after. I did this in recovery too and the results were very obvious. I was told I absolutely, positively needed to be all-in with this deal. All-in to me meant I was going to do everything I was asked to in order to get sober, but also meant doing it everyday. Having a consistent routine that benefits your recovery is vital. I’m not going to lay out what your routine should look like because I truly feel it should be personal to you and you need to find what benefits you. We get a daily reprieve though, everyday we need to do what’s best for our recovery.


For a long time I fell victim to talking the talk without walking the walk. I spent so many years talking about all these great plans I had and that would be about all I did. I made sure this time to not so much tell everybody what my plans were but to just align my goals/plans and get started on working on them right away. This falls in line with my other suggestions about humility and consistency, if we don’t take action, the right actions, ASAP we are a ticking time bomb waiting to relapse. Whether it’s needing to find a sponsor, needing to find a new job, needing to do stepwork, needing to find a commitment at a home group, the longer you wait to do these things to more detrimental it can be to your recovery. I am at my best when I am doing what I am supposed to do right away and not procrastinating, it is rewarding and also puts my mind at ease big time. Even if you are a few years sober, you have built a life that you want to keep building, there is more responsibility in your life and even more things to call to action. Keep on building. Keep on taking action.

I am very aware that the things that I have stated are simple.To be perfectly honest, recovery and staying sober is a very simple deal. There is a clear path laid out that we need to walk, the problem is we allow our minds to get in the way constantly. Sometimes we need to stop listening to the mind and just do what we know is right. Keep things as simple as you can and your recovery will flourish.