Well for what its worth i've been back at 'the jumping off place' twice in my soberiety, without lifting a drink or a drug.
Both times due to going against my then sponsors advice and doing things my way. Was sore as hell at the time and really broke me, took a long time to get over it but if i'd have listened to folk who know how i tick instead of trying to please folk who dont it would never have happened. I chose an easier softer way because the AA way put to me at the time seemed to hard but my way turned out much, much harder and in the end almost killed me.
And what did i learn from that painful experience?
Well i'm an alcoholic 1st and a normal human being 2nd.
And if i'm to live at all it must be within the boundaries of the AA programme.
And I lost what i was going to lose all along but wouldn't/couldn't accept it.
I'd heard a thousand times that we alcoholics are living or borrowed time and as long as we stay close to AA we'll manage just fine. Due to 2 of the most painful experiences of my life i now know that to be true.
Fortunately on 2 seperate occasions i've managed to put that experience to good use with guys who were in the same position as i was back then. Still wish it hadn't happened but i did and i'm all the stronger for it.
So i suppose it wasn't all wasted sober time.