There is a certain amount of wisdom in telling someone when they are first getting sober to avoid people, places and things associated with their drinking or using. These can all make it hard to stay sober as they put you in a certain mood or dredge up memories.
Old friends you used to get drunk or high with can try to pressure you to join them. Sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes because they want you to rejoin them in their misery, sometimes because they want you to enjoy the feeling again with them. But you have made the commitment to be sober, because you know where insobriety took you, and it wasn’t good.
Places you used to lurk, or even places similar to them (like any bar anywhere, or a crack house), will typically be full of the substance that caused so many problems. They will also typically be full of those who have not yet made a commitment to stay sober or have relapsed, and the people who don’t have a drinking problem but are just out on the town.
Things can bite you in the butt. If you were an alcoholic, you should probably not keep the wet bar in your basement, especially not stocked with liquor. If you were a heroin addict, you should definitely not keep your spoon, needles or straw around. A clean sweep of your home and car
should be done so you don’t one day stumble upon a piece of paraphernalia. If necessary, you should even clean out your place of work.
All of this is good advice. However, there is only so much avoiding People, Places and Things you can do. You can decline every wedding you’re invited to that has alcohol, but then you are limiting yourself to a very small number of weddings to attend. The same goes for birthday parties and even funerals with wakes. What if one of those people you used to run with calls you up or even stops by your home 5 years down the line desperately seeking help? What if you decide you want to pursue your passion and become a standup comedian? It’s kind of hard to do that without being around alcohol.
Or what if you are called to help those stuck where you once were? That CANNOT be done without being able to go place like you used to, filled with things you used to use, and occupied by people just like those you used to run with…
Conversely, you can’t depend on the new People, Places and Things. Meetings are good, sober friends are good, new things that help you stay entertained and in new hobbies are good. But they will all fail. If you depend on a meeting to keep you sober, what happens when you can’t find one? Or you go to 3 bad meetings, three days in a row? If you depend on those sober friends, what happens if they all relapse, or they all move away? And what if you are dependent on physical fitness to keep you sober and one day you suffer a debilitating injury that prevents you from working out or playing sports?
All of these things can fail you.
There needs to be more! More than being dependent on avoiding People, Places, and Things that remind you of your past. More than depending on meetings and new People, Places, and Things. Neither of these is freedom, they are both a form of bondage. Avoiding old People, Places, and Things is bondage to fear. Depending on new People, Places, and Things is bondage to fallible, false saviors that will fail you.
I know of only one thing that will never fail you and that is God, through the saving sacrifice of His Son on the cross. If you build your foundation of sobriety on Him, build it on the Rock that is Jesus, it cannot be shaken. You will be able to interact with those old People, Places, and Things without stumbling. You will be able to have the new People, Places, and Things in your life without depending on them for your sobriety (that’s a burden no mortal person should have to bear).
Peace and Hope in Jesus,