What does it take to get sober?
I was talking with a family member the other day about how to discuss the matter of getting clean and sober. The idea is how to convey it to other people in a way that it seems exciting. The unfortunate truth is that it isn’t. If an addict isn’t read to change then they aren’t going to change. This goes for anything. If you are not ready to change then you will not commit to the change that you want to make; weight loss, monogamy, shopping, etc.
If you’re not ready to change, then you’re simply wasting your getting high time. However, if you are then things can be exciting because the whole world is new, but it is challenging. I think that the journey is what makes the change no so mundane, despite the fact that the mental change is rather lack-luster in the transition.
Well, at least it was for me.
The most challenging part was changing my life. This came about over years or work and is even still happening to this very day. The hardest part was to change everything about my life. See being in the criminal world there is the idea of the criminal code. There are certain ethics within the jail and the criminal world. In order to make these changes, I had to do something completely different.
Now I was in jail at the time of my epiphany, and some people may think, “Well Rocky, you had a head start on the addict on the street.” Maybe so, but the struggle is different. Listen to the story.
My plan was not really detailed. I stuck with simplicity as to not overwhelm myself. An age-old acronym, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid), was the vehicle I would use to carry out my plan. So I decided that “New Rocky” was just going to do the exact opposite of “Old Rocky.” Simple. However, I had to use a skill I had heard about before, stopping and redirecting thoughts. This was the foundation. I decided that no matter what I was not going to act until I had processed the situation, even if the whole time people stared at me like I was crazy. Still, simple, right?
Life doesn’t hold constant, and even though things were good for about the first two weeks I was thrown a curveball that gave me the ultimate choice on who future Rocky was going to be.
I was transferred to another county jail, and for whatever reason, I was placed in a tier with “Timers,” people going to prison to do time. I was what is called a “Rider.” I was on my way to a minimum security prison to complete a drug and crime program. Jails typically keep these two holds separate because Timers could provoke a situation where a Rider might lose their program opportunity and become a Timer themselves.
In this tier were a handful of people that were not exactly friendly to me. This was solely based off of actions of common acquaintances on the streets. They knew me, and I didn’t know them.
It was only a matter of time until I was jumped. Nothing serious. Something that “Old Rocky” would have followed them to their cell to continue the altercation, but I stopped and decided to go to my cell and work it out. In my cell, I had one of the only books that I was allowed to have, the Bible. I flipped it open and landed on humility.
I thought, “How do I humble myself?” Well, what would “Old Rocky” do? So what can I do then?
I used another exercise that I learned; playing the tape out. What this means is that I am going to run through the likely situations so that I can best decide what my options are. Basically, I came to the conclusion that this altercation was going to continue and escalate to the point that my rider would probably be over before it began, then we would both be on the Yard, and still be fighting about what? Over what? Something that doesn’t matter any more? How could I move on with my life if I am incarcerated for years?
So what was the other option? Push the button and roll myself.
Anyone here who has been locked up knows what this means, those that don’t let me explain. Rolling out is telling the officers that you need to be moved for safety reasons. Typically you get a jacket, a label, that places you in protective custody from there on out. This means that any street cred that I had would be gone. I would be a bitch. Someone who would be bullied and punked out in that world. So if I push that button and do this… that is the end of this life. This was a full commitment.
I pushed the button.
So what does it take to get sober?
It takes commitment. It is a willingness to risk everything that you know in order to achieve something better for ourselves. It takes determination. The drive to continue and persevere for a greater good. This is selfish and selfless (we will get to that later). We need tools and support. Nevertheless, initially, we have to want it for us. Not want it for our kids. Our mothers can’t love us into sobriety. The state can’t mandate recovery. This is a choice we make, and if we are going to make it, then it has to be a full commitment.
Thanks for reading. I will be back again next week to discuss some more about addiction, my story, and how we can go about making changes in our lives or supporting those that we love in their recovery.
Also, stick around and we will learn about the above-mentioned exercises along with other activities as the week’s progress.
I hope to see you all back here again. Until then, be good and be safe.