It is read at the beginning of almost every 12 step meeting throughout the world. Its sentiment echoed by every counselor, sponsor, and friendly 12-stepper and it is the newcomer’s least favorite thing to hear, “Half measures will avail you nothing.” Depending on where you are at in your approach in recovery, this saying can either be the key to unlocking a new and wonderful sober life, or it can mean the continuation of addiction and all of the pain that comes along with it. It is one of the truest sayings in AA and yet logically it doesn’t really make sense. I mean if I only half-heartedly went to the gym I would in time reap some results from this doing, but in recovery only half-heartedly attempting to get sober gets you drunk. Why is this? Why does 50 percent equal nothing in the realm of recovery? In short, the reason is because alcoholism is an incredibly powerful foe.
The proof of why half measures will avail you nothing can be found in the controlled drinking that many of us attempted before we came into sobriety. At some point in their drinking career, every alcoholic tries this at least once, many even before they knew there was a name for it. They seem to come up with this brilliant idea seemingly out of nowhere, and it usually sounds like this, “I will only drink on the weekends” or “I will cut out hard liquor and only drink beer.” This works for a period of time until eventually the illusion of control is lost and they are right back at it with the same gusto as before. The reason for this isn’t weakness on their part, but strength on the part of alcoholism. Alcoholism cannot be defeated while alcohol is still being used, so only drinking 50% of the time is the same as drinking all of the time. It is only through complete abstinence, or full measures, that sobriety can be achieved, but even then more work has to be done.
So let’s say that you’ve overcome your drinking and you are now sober and involved in AA. You are hit with a lot of new ideas and you may scoff at some of them. You may hear about the 5th Step and say I am never going to admit all of my faults, fears, and secrets to another person. You may hear about the 9th Step and decide there are certain people that you are never going to make amends to. This sort of thinking, just like trying to control your drinking, will invariably get you drunk again unless you give yourself fully to the program and all that it asks of you.
This is not always an easy thing to do and fortunately it doesn’t have to be done all at once, but picking and choosing what Steps you want to do or what aspects of the program you’d like to partake in will 9 times out 10 result in drinking, because as it’s said, half measures will avail you nothing. There is a reason why the Steps are organized the way they are and why they require you to do certain thing. They are designed to give you a spiritual awakening which will expel your obsession to drink and if they are not worked accordingly then you will not get the desired results.
For instance, many people have at least 1 or 2 things on their 4th Step that they do not want to share with anyone. They want to take those secrets to the grave and if they continue to hold on to them, the guilt, shame, and whatever else remains within them, it will block their ability to create a relationship with a high power. Why this is I’m not entirely sure, but it is true that we are only as sick as our secrets and so only half working the 5th Step, or for that matter, 80% working the 5th Step, will result in nothing.
Without actually having experienced the relief brought about by working this Step, it is hard to describe what laying yourself 100% bare truly feels like. It is uncomfortable at first, but after a couple of hours, days, or weeks, a lightness settles in that many alcoholics have never experienced before in their lives. This lightness is only achieved by working this Step 100%, meaning to the best of your ability.
The same goes for the 9th Step. Making amends to people who you know will accept you is one thing, but what is required to remove the lingering guilt and shame is to go to those that we do not want to and try to amend the situation. This process is humbling and yet freeing and if it is only half worked then you will not experience the elation necessary to overcome the drink problem.
While sobriety is lived on a day-to-day basis, the point of it all is long-term recovery. The longer you are sober the more chances you will have to tire of the program, stray from the path, and make mistakes, but the effort you put forth, in the beginning, can be the difference between failure and success when you are inevitably faced with these things. If you only put in half measures in the beginning, you will more than likely get nothing, but if you give yourself 100% to the program then you will have the foundation necessary to push through while you attempt to recenter yourself.
Stop Taking Half Measures and Get Help
If you have arrived at a point where you know that half measure will avail you nothing and are ready to get sober again then call Elevations Health today, at 866-200-3224. Our trained professionals are standing by to take your call and help you achieve the life of sobriety you have always wanted. We know making this decision is not always easy and we are here to help you in any way we can. Don’t hesitate, your life is worth it. Call us now.