How Long for a Stable Recovery?

Sobriety isn’t always like this idealistic photo illustration, but it sometimes is, especially when lived a day at a time.

I saw a headline the other day that ‘stable’ recovery takes 4-5 years. Hmmmmm, sounds like ‘normie’ talk. The only reliable account I can give of stability in recovery is for myself (in the true tradition of AA!). My last drink was in October 1987. I felt stable in my recovery by October 1989, or about two years. My recovery felt stable once I had fully embraced the sober life, when AA became the guide for my life, but NOT MY LIFE per se. AA became the guide for my life after two years. I still tell people for me, AA is one part counseling, one part family and one part spirituality — all valuable things for anyone, but especially for a lost, wounded person like I was by the fall of 1987. I don’t know the clinical definition of ‘stable recovery,’ and I don’t care. I guess if you reach the point I did (in my case, after two years) then you are stable in recovery no matter what the time interval. People are so different; our histories are so different; our paths to recovery are so different that its ridiculous to define stable recovery in terms of a hard and fast time interval. Or, as our new president would say, “come on!” Besides, as I learned in AA, comparing my insides to someone elses outsides is a dangerous and ultimately illegitimate thing to do. Its never an accurate or useful comparison to make, and often harmful. Is someone who can only put together a month of sobriety therefore considered stable in their first week? Can someone who was sober 15 years, as an old friend of mine was, have been considered in stable recovery at any time if he went back out to use? You can see the utter futility of trying to define ‘stable’ recovery. Of course, most AA folks know the answer to the puzzle of what is a ‘stable’ recovery: Its just one day. AA is a day at a time program! Twenty-four hours is all we get to claim for our stable recovery no matter how long we’ve been sober. Lose track of this fact and you imperil your recovery. So, here’s to today folks. May it be a sober day, a good day! Hard not to be when its spring and the pandemic is getting its rear end kicked one vaccine at a time! Speaking of which, I’m covid immune by April 11, having had my second vax last week. So, after the 11th its back to in-person meetings for me, masked up (Uptown House rules), of course!

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