I'm watching people on my food addiction recovery program struggle to hold to their commitments in the circumstances of their lives: the unsupportive spouse, the treat-laden workplace, the stress of an overbooked schedule. We're used to medicating ourselves in those circumstances and without that medication, be it alcohol, drugs, or food, we are pretty miserable and before long, we're medicating again. It seems the only thing we can do.
When I was getting sober, both the treatment center staff and my AA sponsor made it very clear to me that if I expected to keep my old life intact and stay sober, I was badly mistaken. You may well need to change everything to make it work, they said. Your old life supported active addiction, they said; chances are very strong that it will not support recovery.
This proved true for me. Over the next five years, I had to leave my primary relationship, change jobs, then change careers, move across the country. Each change became necessary to reduce stresses so I could stay sober.
No one wants to hear this. We think our not-so-healthy relationships, our not-so-healthy workplace, our way-too-full life is inevitable. They aren't. What is more likely to be inevitable is relapse if things don't change. It's an uncomfortable truth.