Abstinence is not always recovery.


Many people want to believe that abstinence is the end-all of a Twelve Step program. While it’s extremely important, abstinence is the result, not the goal.

Recovery is not born of abstinence. Abstinence grows from recovery.

Rather than focusing on how long we’ve been abstinent, our emphasis should be on recovery—an inside-out, heart-deep, character-deep recovery, where we thoroughly examine our heart for pride and other weaknesses.

Most especially pride.

Pride comes in so many forms. Impatience is a big one. We may be abstinent on the outside but still prone to fits of self-will. In AA, this is called a “dry drunk”—a fit of impatience. A fit of wanting what we want when we want it.

These fits are signs that even though our physical abstinence may be in place, we are still in need of recovery. Of being recovered.

Even if the thing that we want is technically a “righteous” desire, by wanting it now, by exhibiting our impatience, we are exerting our will and our pride.

True recovery is defined by submitting our will—totally and completely—to Christ.  When we do that, abstinence follows as a result.

~Colleen H.

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