Much of the AA experience is composed of rituals, activities, and time occupiers whose main purpose is to meet the need of having something to do and a place to be. AA, however peculiar its culture might be, can provide a way to reconnect with the human race when no other avenue presents itself, but it is a blunt instrument. Beyond the clichés and religious bromides, there is a lack of straight answers about what it actually takes to get sober. Many want a cleaner approach that more directly gets to the nuts and bolts of recovery, an approach that is free of the mystification and of the religious and moralistic baggage that comes with AA's Twelve Steps.
We can reduce the recovery process to four steps:
- Develop the resolve to quit using and stay quit
- Identify and employ other ways to find immediate relief besides alcohol or other drugs
- Face problems and adopt a sound approach to problem solving
- Attain and maintain a viable drug-free lifestyle that is viscerally more attractive than using
Of course, the devil is in the details. How to accomplish these four steps, with or without participation in AA, needs to be broken down into bite-sized, concrete actions.