On some sobriety podcast I heard a statistic that scared the shit out of me. I can’t remember the exact figures, but it was something close to this: of alcoholics that get sober, only 10 percent of them are sober after one year, and after five years only ten percent of that ten percent remain sober.
Let’s run some numbers. Take a hundred drunks, get them in clinics doing hot yoga and talking about their feelings with strangers, and drill into them that they can never drink again, because if there’s one thing they can’t do, they can’t moderate how much they drink. Of those hundred people that hiked up a mountain for the first time, ten of those will still be sober after a year. The other ninety are excusing themselves from the dinner table to sneak off to the bathroom to take a sip of vodka they’ve hidden in a mouthwash bottle, or they’re sitting at a bar drinking their “just one more,” hoping beyond hope that the glass doesn’t get empty.
But we’re not concerned with those people. At least for the purpose of this blog post. We’re looking at the guys and gals who—Jesus, I just realized I hate when people say guys and gals—who carry on going to AA, trade off booze for other healthy or healthier addictions, and collect their chips. Of those ten, only one of them stays the course for five years.
That’s one out of a hundred who’s still sober.
If you got cancer and were given an option of treatment that would make you sick as a circus clown during off season, and you knew that there’s only a one-percent chance the treatment would work, that your cancer in its particular stage only had a one-percent five-year survival rate, the first thing you’d do is start thinking up dumb things to do for your bucket list and thinking about what song you want played at your funeral to make your loved ones tear up and think about what a great guy—or gal—you were.
If you’re interested, mine would totally be ‘Leaving, On A Jet Plant’ by John Denver. It has a shitload of saccharin subtext in a funeral setting, and with its heavy dose of melancholy it would make the guests at my funeral so upset they’d probably forget to get shitfaced afterwards, which in some poetic but backwards way would be this blogger’s greatest achievement.
As a sobriety advocate, I’ve got tell you you’re a beautiful snowflake and that you shouldn’t be focussed on those other ninety-nine deadbeats, all the while knowing I’ve never made it to five years myself, but you can, God dammit.
And as someone who’s determined to stay sober today, and tomorrow—and, dare I say it, for the rest of my life—I’ve got to have Kanye West-level narcissism in the face of those statistics if I’m to remain convinced I’m going to achieve my goal.
But that’s the thing about lifelong sobriety. It’s never achieved, not really. Here’s a happy thought: The only time that you’ve achieved it is after the moment you breathe your last breath, and then your consciousness isn’t even around to acknowledge your achievement, and it’s your life’s work! It’s left on a jet plane, and it’s impossible for it to know for sure whether it’ll be back again.
Jeez, I’m a ray of sunshine this morning.
Luckily for us, that statistic is just a statistic. And luckily for us, I have a pertinent cliché to quote: it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
In writing this blog, I haven’t hidden my disdain for AA clichés, but in writing this particular blog post, it’s making me think about one in a different light: One day at a time…
One day at a time, I’m not looking forward to the future in a bad way.
One day at a time, I’m enjoying being sober.
One day at a time, I’m achieving my goal.
Fuck it, John can keep his jet plane, and the Dan that wrote the start of this blog post can shove back his opening in his ass where he pulled it from. Here’s a new one:
On some sobriety podcast, I heard a statistic that inspired the shit out of me…
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