If sobriety were easy, everybody who wanted to be sober would be. If someone tells you that getting clean and sober is easy, take this advice: run. However, there are ways to make early sobriety easier, and even enjoyable. 1. Find Your Higher Power Now Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is not a program with a spiritual angle; it is a spiritual program. We recognize that alcoholism is a spiritual illness as well as a physical and mental malady. Carl Jung described alcohol as a "low-level quest for God." Twelve Step programs are all about recognizing the need to stop trying to fill the spiritual emptiness inside of us with food, sex, drugs, spending, relationships, alcohol, or anything else. The only thing that fills a God-sized hole is God. As soon as you can, start developing a relationship with a Higher Power. It will make all the difference for you. 2. Take the Steps Immediately The steps are the best insurance you have against relapse, so get started. The sooner you get through them, the more likely you'll make it. The old-timers used to say that newcomers should start taking the steps "as soon as they stop throwing up." If your group has a culture of keeping the newcomer waiting to take the steps or believes in "a step a year," again: run. Find a group where the emphasis is on using the steps to recover. It works if you work it. 3. Get a Sponsor It's a "we" program. I cannot keep myself sober, but together we can make it. A sponsor is someone who "has something you want." Maybe it's serenity. Maybe it's a Mercedes. Whatever it is, ask that person if he or she will sponsor you (stick to your own gender for best results). That person will take you through the steps and also take your calls to discuss what happens in your life and how the program can help you get through any issues that creep up. Sponsors ideally don't give advice, lend money, hang up on you, or fire you. Remember that we do this "for fun and for free" so make great use of your sponsor. Nobody's perfect, however. But if he or she isn't perfect, well, neither are you! 4. Find a Home Group The only excuse for missing your home group's weekly meeting, as a friend of mine used to say, is, "if you are in a box." Otherwise, there is nothing more important in your life than A.A., or your fellowship of choice, right now, and there's nothing more important than getting to your home group. So find a group that's convivial and where you can make friends. Be there every week. It's possible to hide out in A.A., or any Twelve Step program, by going to tons of different meetings and never letting anyone know you. That's a recipe for failure. Put yourself in the middle of the herd, it's the safest. 5. Build a Deep Bench What if your sponsor isn't available? Who else are you going to call? Get to know the people in your home group and other groups, because these are the folks who can help save your life. Get phone numbers of other people and develop relationships with them so that you've got lots of people to call when your life feels out of control. 6. Understand What Being on Time For a Meeting Really Means It means that you get there 15 minutes early, you talk to fellow members, set up chairs, and connect with other newcomers and it means not leaving until 15 minutes after the meeting has ended. Often in Twelve Step programs, what happens before and after meetings is as important or even more important than what happens during the meeting. Don't be a stranger. 7. Be of Service Today, a lot of people treat Twelve Step meetings as if they were movie theaters where all you have to do is just show up and have a seat. But if nobody sets up the chairs, there's nowhere to sit. If nobody greets, then the newcomer is not made to feel welcome. In the old days, we washed coffee cups and picked up ashtrays. It's amazing how such simple, selfless acts transform our lives. Once you've got the requisite time, make a group commitment—treasurer, secretary, coffee maker, chairperson. It's a great way to get to know others and to be known in your group. And service beyond the group—hospitals and institutions—is the true "winners circle" in A.A. and other Twelve Step programs. Get involved with service beyond the group and you'll meet the truly devoted members of the program. That's where the cool kids hang out. 8. Make Phone Calls, Not Just Text No one can tell your mood from a text. I understand that in today's culture, we rely on texting far more than we do on the phone. I get it. But there's nothing like a phone call to exchange information and identify and solve the real problems. Don't think that you're disturbing a fellow alcoholic or addict by calling him or her on the phone. All you're doing is interrupting that person's self-obsession, most likely. So when you make a phone call to someone in the program, you're actually doing that person a favor. 9. Trust the Process You have just placed yourself on a conveyer belt to a better life. Job one: Don't get off. Make your short-term goal noon, your long-term goal midnight, and aim for the pillow sober. Plan out in advance which meeting you're going to on any given day, and wrap the rest of the day around that meeting. Ask for a day clean and sober, and thank your Higher Power at night for the gift of recovery. You'll be fine.