“Progress not perfection”
We love this slogan. But we do not always love how some people apply it. Many will unfortunately use this slogan to justify that sometimes relapse just happens. “We do not need to be perfect,” they insist, “we just need to not be as bad as we used to be.”
We think this is a dangerous position for anyone trying to get a solid foothold into successful recovery.
But why? Some would (and many do) argue that the idea of “progress not perfection” supports the idea that it is not perfect sobriety we are looking for, and that sometimes relapse just happens. While we believe that relapse can happen when one has not developed sufficient emotional and spiritual tools for coping with life’s challenges, we do not believe that it should be expected or that one should reserve his or her right to “fall” from time to time.
Nor do we believe that the common self-help programs available for addiction recovery agree with the idea that relapse is to be expected. Quite the contrary, in fact. We have found the original 12-Step programs, designed for alcoholics, to be very clear that when an alcoholic first establishes sobriety “there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion” of drinking again in the future (words in quotes are from the book Alcoholics Anonymous page 33).
It is true, none of us is perfect. To that we agree. Being imperfect is part of being human. We are not suggesting otherwise.
However… our abstinence must be perfect. Our commitment to sobriety, or our “First Step” if you will, must be taken without reservation or qualification. Because if you reserve the right to relapse, then you will.