Sobriety based on fear

Help for alcohol abuse addiction alcoholics who want to stay sober
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Sobriety based on fear

Postby GeoffS » Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:59 pm

Went to a meeting last night that I hadn't been to for a while, good to see the same faces, and some new ones.

One of the newer members ended up sharing on how she would not drink again because she was too frightened of it getting out of control, and that she was too frightened of losing what she has and too frightened to go back where she'd been.

Does anyone know anyone who has stayed sober for a long time on this kind of philosophy?

Does it work?

Can it work?

I know my experience of from seeing many people try, but would like to hear from others.

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Postby sunlight » Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:36 pm

I'm happy to respond, Geoffs, but I, too, would like to hear from others first.

It's like in a meeting, where the question is asked, "Does anyone have a topic?" & no one does, so I speak up, & someone moans, "Oh Sunlight always has a topic. I want to talk about this.." :lol: Cracks me up.

So, later...

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Postby Dallas » Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:32 am

I'll jump on it!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

When I was new to sobriety after failing my first attempt in AA, I was totally terrified that I was going to drink again!

I had reason to be afraid... to drink was to die, and for me, drinking was like a magnet... and it had me and could get me anytime, anywhere. I had no defense of the next first drink and I knew it. I had proved it to myself, that even AA probably wouldn't work for an alcoholic of "my type."

There were several times that I enjoyed life while that fear was going on, but deep inside me... I knew that I was a gonner and I was trying like heck to hang on to what little bit of sobriety that I had.

At nearly one year sober... because I was still skeptical of AA, in regards if it was BS, or if it would really work for an alkie of my type... I enrolled in a college in Southern California... to take some new classes that they had started for doctors that wanted to help alcoholics and for people that wanted to get certified with the State, as a Chemical Dependency Counselor.

They weren't going to let me enroll because I hadn't been sober for a whole year (which was a requirement if I was one of the lepers! )... So, I had to convince them that I had no desire to be a Counselor... I just wanted to stay sober!!! My life depended on it and all I had going for me was "AA" and I was afraid AA wouldn't work for me.... I thought AA was for the weak ones!!! The one's that just couldn't handle their booze! The one's that just had a drinking problem! :lol: :lol:

When I found out that Academia and Education and the Medical follks were all gung-ho for AA, and they said, for the bottomline, it's the only thing they know of, that for the long-haul... will work for an alcoholic...
it helped me to stick around with AA and become really totally honestly willing to totally give my self -- to it's simple program.

I was very active in AA. H&I, GSR, Intergroup, volunteering at Central Office, working the phones, making 12 Step calls, going to lots of meetings, having a commitment for every day of the week, took the Steps, studied the book, and all the other literature and books that AA had, was constantly going to book stores and libraries to find out all I could... that might help me to stay sober a little longer.

It wasn't until my 5th year sober that I finally came to believe in the possibility... that if I doubled up on what I had been doing in AA for the first five years... I might make it to my sixth year! :lol: :lol:

I can't really say when the fear finally left -- and whether I really have any now or not. Sometimes... honestly, I get a little bit nervous about it. What would happen if I drank again? Surely, as progressive as alcoholism is... I just couldn't make it trying to sober up again. There's not a question about that. I know I'd be a dead fish.

Do I live in fear? Nope. Can't say that I do.

Do I still respect the power that alcohol could have over me? You beth'cha.

Do I worry about it? Not when I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing... I don't worry about it. Do I worry about sleep-walking? Yep!!! :lol: So, somehow I have to stay awake... and have the friends and fellowship around me so that they can nudge me if I start nodding off! :wink:

That's my story about it. That's my experience.

Please ignore my typos! I can't see what I'm typing... so it's useless for me to look for my mistakes! :lol: I'll just have to make the amends later!


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Postby Carl » Thu Dec 18, 2008 4:32 am

To me fear is yet another powerful foe (seems I have many) and can be a very strong motivator as well. About 20 years ago I was diagnosed as having hepatitis C. Not nearly as much was known about it as is today but my Dr. explained it was a virus that slowly ate away the liver. Having already drank pretty heavily for 20 years prior, it scared me into quitting cold turkey for 5 years. Though that 5 years of not drinking is mine to keep, 'white knuckling' brewed a whole different type of insanity for me. In retrospect, it was about the worse thing that could have happened to me as I have tried to 'recapture' that ability to quit drinking for the last 20 years. I have been in and out of the fire more times than I can count from running my own program and failing. I have just over 90 days this time thanks to God, AA, my freinds and support within. Never gave AA much of a chance before.....should have.
P.S. My brother quit with his own fear as a motivator, hasn't drank in 20 years, no help, no program. I sent him a Big Book so he could educate himself about ever picking up again.

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Postby Carl » Thu Dec 18, 2008 4:52 am

Oops, I meant I've spent the last 15 years trying to recapture the 5 years I had 'not drinking'. Math never was my strong suit but I would almost always know how many beers I drank and how many I had left :?

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Postby Dallas » Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:44 am

Carl, welcome to the site!
I appreciate your sharing.
Looking forward to reading more from you!


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Postby GeoffS » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:26 am

Thanks for the input folks.

I'll add, I have been one of the lucky ones so far on my journey. By the time I was beat enough to get to AA (thats another story) I never had time for doubts.

I was lucky the group I got involved with are very strong on sponorship and the black bits in the BB. I never had time to be sober in AA without working the steps and face that dilemma of 'why do the steps, things are ok now' They allow their fear of going back where they were motivate them. Thats the stage I hear people sharing about and it scares me. Its like they feel they have gotten sober enough where they are and dont need to keep growing. I'm just grateful I missed that stage so far, as I am lazy and would have taken that option and not worried about the steps. When I rest on my laurels my growth slows, stops and slips back. My disease will not put me back where I was. Not so's I'd notice. It would do it slowly and imperceptibly, so that I was too far gone to stop it when I did notice, then bang...worse than before.

Now I have faith that by staying close to AA and handing my will and my life over to the care of god each day, I will stay sober each day. It is only through the grace of god and the kindness of my sponsor and other members that I have learned that and accept it.

It doesn't matter how long I am sober, I am still powerless over alcohol. If I rely on anything other than god to keep me sober I may as well start drinking now, because I will sooner or later. Only the program of AA shows me how to stay sober and keep fear from influencing my actions too much:-) No human power can get or keep me sober, if I believe that it can whether that is someone else or my own will/strength/fear whatever then its good night Vienna.

Thanks for letting me share,

Dallis, dont wory abowt the typoes.


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Postby garden variety » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:07 pm

This is my little story of sobriety based on fear. It may not be the same as yours or anyone else. I'm not offering advice, nor am I speaking on behalf of AA. It's my hope to help or encourage another alcoholic.

If I didn't have fear, I couldn't have courage. Fear is a pain too afraid to know that his twin brother is courage.

When I almost went back out drinking (the second time around), I was afraid. Like Dallas, I had an earlier spell of sobriety a little bit more than 5 years, and I went back out. This second time around, the obsession came back. I couldn't seem to stop thinking about drinking. One Saturday night, I noticed the neon light of a bar sign shaped like a tall glass of beer, and somehow that image nearly took control of my hands and I almost turned into the bar's parking lot. The thought crossed my mind so fast, and I almost responded. I was afraid because I knew I could pick up in an instant, like the book said about Jim the car salesman "suddenly the thought crossed my mind". That's how fast I knew I could pick back up. I remembered a Saturday night meeting down the same street only a couple blocks, so I went there instead.

But I lived with that obsession a little longer, and my thinking started to go to crazy thoughts that were destructive. Very destructive. Violent and destructive. Ugly. Mean. After a few weeks I knew that I would drink again, I couldn't stop where I was headed. My thoughts were so crazy, nothing made sense. Somehow, I managed to think about going to a meeting every single night. I was going to show you all in AA that even if I went to a meeting a night, I would still think crazy thoughts, and eventually I would go back to drinking again.

That was my best thinking at the time - and that was 5 years sober in AA. It was a blessing that final thought brought me to a meeting every night. The "alcoholic thought" of "I'm going to show you" which is another sick way of me saying I'm going to punish myself to make my point, brought me back to the meetings that I strayed away from. I wasn't praying, I wasn't sponsoring, I went to a meeting a month on my best months, and I was involved in "other priorities" in my life because life had got better by being sober for 5 years - but the good things had started going downhill again.

I knew in my heart I would drink again, and I knew like Dallas said, I was going to die. I could feel death stalking me from behind - that's no lie. I was afraid. But it seemed like I couldn't stop myself. I don't know how it happened, but the nightly meetings worked to keep me sober a couple days, then at one meeting, I saw a girl in the room that looked familiar, and somehow this "God as we understand Him" was able to plug in an inspirational thought into my mind for the first time in months. I saw her need was greater than mine and it brought tears to my eyes - right there in the meeting as we all prayed together for the sick and suffering alcoholics, and those near to our hearts. The inspired thought of someone in worse shape than me, opened the door that led back to safety. I was able to see another human being, instead of myself, and I immediately understood that she needed more help than me.

That led to yet another constructive action. I prayed for her, instead of feeling sorry for myself. Somehow, my "issues" seemed small now, but hers were much bigger. In my heart, I honestly wanted God to help her because she was new and hurting. Ironically, that was the turning point for me in my sobriety. Somehow getting out of myself for that brief moment, that "twinkling of an eye", turned my life completely around. It was the beginning of my personal venture in belief. It was the "second start" of this round of sobriety that brought me right here, now, into today.

It was that moment for me when fear found his twin brother courage. Fear became transformed into taking an action: a constructive action. I took the first tiny step of this venture, which was a small tiny little risk, so tiny I didn't even notice. But I risked putting another human being ahead of myself, and I said an honest prayer for that girl, instead of feeling sorry for myself which was all I had done for the past several months. From what I hear, that girl is no longer sober - but I am - what an irony!

If you would have told me back then, I would be where I am today, I would have looked at you and said you're crazier than me.

Today, I know what to do when fear crosses my path. That's because fear's twin brother, courage, has been a companion in this venture of my belief - this "journey" in sobriety. So for me, I'm thankful for fear. Without fear, I would never have learned about courage. Without fear, I wouldn't have been able to seek a God of my understanding. Fear led me to find a Power greater than myself through the program of recovery known as the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

For me, it's not important what motivates a man or woman, such as fear, to find our Fellowship and teaches us how to live a life based on spiritual principles. What is important is the lasting reason that keeps us here: Sobriety.

Thanks for letting me share.

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Postby sunlight » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:50 pm

I've known those who have stayed sober on fear. My brother-in-law has stayed sober 20 yrs in fear of his wife! :lol:

Seriously. There was a woman who joined our group who told me she had been sober 16yrs out of fear of ending up back in the gutter. She said she wanted what I had & was ready to take the steps. :shock: I said ok & she said, "Not with YOU." Go figure.

There's more, but it's like Carl said, there's a type of insanity about them. Hard to put my finger on, but then the anger, depression, arrogance & other compulsive, destructive behaviors start happening in their lives & man, if it were me, I'd be looking for Jose Cuervo!

Someone pointed out to me that the only time evil is mentioned in the BB is in connection with fear: "an evil & corroding thread." (pg67)

Now, if I'm living with evil :twisted: & with something corroding me, eating away at me like weasels in my gut, I'm gonna need relief!

The only relief that worked for me was/is the 12 steps.

Here's a story on fear & the steps:

When I did my 4th step with my 2nd sponsor, she had me do a fear inventory. I listed my fears, what I thought caused them & all the ways I tried to manage them. Pretty revealing! I was curious how they were going to be removed &, when we met for the 5th step, she said "What does the book say about our fears? Why did we have them?Wasn't it because self-reliance failed us?(pg68) Our real reliance is always upon God." ( pg164)

That was it. I was expecting something more. But, it was obvious from my list, that all the ways I tried did not work. Plus, I respected her immensely. She was a former hardcore athiest who now had a profound & delightful relationship with her god.

When we got to the 11th step, she asked if I'd ever had an intuitive thought. I said yes & she gave me the assignment of paying attention for that all week.

At the time, I had a boyfriend who'd fixed a car for his friend who lived 200 miles away. Now, one of my fears was driving the highway. I dreaded it! The boyfriend wanted me to drive the friend's car while he went ahead of me in his truck. Not only was I being asked to drive the highway, but there was a torrential rainstorm with the animals coming two by two & the car had rack & pinion steering, which I was totally unfamiliar with. Geeezzz!

I felt those weasels of fear in my gut, but I remembered self-reliance had failed me utterly & I was now relying on God. ( Though I'm not seeing how He's gonna drive the car for me! )

I get on the highway & I'm doing pretty good, when the thought pops in my head, "It's ok to drive the car on the highway, but don't drive it in town." Where the heck did THAT come from? I pushed it to the back of my mind, but didn't dismiss it entirely, because it was so...random.

We get into town, deliver the car & my boyfriend wants to go for ice cream & asks me to drive us to Dairy Queen. I remember the thought: "don't drive it in town." So I asked the friend to drive, since he'd been without his car a while.

We go maybe 6 blocks when the whole front axle falls off the car! :shock: :shock: :shock:

I got out & just gaped at it laying on the street & thought - what if it happened while I was on the highway? But I remembered:it's ok to drive it on the highway".

When I told my sponsor, I expected her to think it was a huge burning bush, but her attitude was like - yep, that's what it's like when you take the steps.

True story. I'd doubt it if it hadn't happened to me.

From that day on I've felt safe & protected. (pg85)

Oh the weasels still nip at my innards, but they don't LIVE there. :D

( Geoffs - Goodnight Vienna? )

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Postby tj » Sat Dec 20, 2008 8:16 am


Thanks for this topic. I am about to do a fear inventory and reading of your experiences has helped me.


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