20 years of sobriety started with a single day

I sometimes get asked what my secret is to remaining sober for 20 plus years. You know, I had never given this a whole lot of thought. You often hear people say they have been sober from such and such date. Some remember it like it’s their child’s birthday. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with this. After all it is a very significant time in the life of the “quitter.” It means a lot different things to a lot of different people.

I’ve been asked what “what my quit date was?” and to be truthful I don’t know what the date was. How do I not know, after all it’s almost as important as my kid’s birthday. 20 years sober all started with a single day without a drink. The reason I don’t know the exact date is because there was so many of them. What I mean by that is, I quit so many times it was almost a routine. Sometimes my quit lasted a day or two, or maybe even a week. I remember during one of my “quits” that when I was caught and questioned on my drinking. I lied and said the alcohol wasn’t mine and that it was a friend who came over and left it behind. You can guess how well that went over.

The best quess that I can recall a date was in the fall time of 1992. That’s 20 some years sober. So how do you get to 20 years? No different than getting to 20 years in anything. How do you get to 20 years at your place of work, your marriage, or older for that matter? It all happens just one day at a time. I know this very cliché but it is really how it happens. Just like when you started your job you had to learn how & what to do. How about when you got married you had to learn how to do that as well. There is a lot hard work and self-discovery along the way. How is success measured? There is no real way to answer this. This is for the person to determine for themselves, and not defined by a program, idea or concept. It certainly is not measured by a date or years.

So is a slip or a relapse a failure? Absolutely not! If it should happen this can be a very valuable experience. It gives the person a chance to look at things in yet another way and determine what changes or skills still need to be worked on. I would only consider this a failure if you didn’t learn and grow from it or better yet, didn’t care to learn or grow. Relapse can a very powerful self-reflecting time. One of the most important things to remember is that there is no one way or specific amount of time it takes to get sober. It’s whatever works for you. If that is a step program, by all means embrace it and work it. If your way is the idea of having a coach to help you in understanding where you’re at and work through it, or some other program or group that may be out there, then go for it.

The most important thing to remember is that it is OK to need help and even better to seek it. Help is not a sign weakness. The only thing I will suggest is that you find that help or support somewhere instead of trying to do it on your own. Your “success rate” will improve exponentially. I didn’t go it alone. I reached out for help in several different areas. Do I feel special that I have it made it 20+ years? In all honesty ….NO. I was just doing what I needed to do, and I still am. That was to get through today without drinking, and my goal is to get through tomorrow the same way. I was just trying to survive, the 20 years that just happens and that most basic goal still hasn’t changed. I sure have changed through this, and so can you. So what’s the secret? One day, one hour, or even one minute at a time, and doing what you need to do. I’m sorry that there is not some magical pill, action; group, book, saying or way of doing, that will solve all the alcohol related issues. Those answers come from within you, and they’re already in you, we just need to find them. Give a call and let’s start finding the answers.


Recovery Coach Steve has been in absolute sobriety from alcohol since 1993.  He is here to help you on your recovery journey.