Most of the popular Twelve Step sayings are simple and profound, but few statements are as clear as "Keep coming back." When we first enter treatment, someone will advise us to keep coming back. When we attend our first AA meeting: keep coming back. When we find success in recovery, or when we struggle with relapse: keep coming back. Although the words are simple, the effect is extremely powerful. During active addiction, we often felt unwelcome or uncomfortable in the company of others, but now complete strangers welcome us with open arms and readily invite us to join them on the journey of recovery. And again, despite its simplicity, we find the mantra has much to teach us in every stage of addiction recovery: We are always welcome in recovery, even and especially after a relapse. Only by showing up will we get and stay sober. We must continue to show up, regardless of how much sober time we have. Serving others and belonging to a community are essential in recovery. We can encourage people who are new or struggling by inviting them to keep coming back. Coming Back from a Relapse It becomes really hard to "keep coming back" to meetings after a relapse. Perhaps we are afraid of being judged, or we didn't particularly like the AA community to begin with, and we consider our relapse as proof of its shortcomings. Regardless of the reason, we might become hesitant to attend our meetings and contact our sponsor. But if we are tired of addiction and we want lasting sobriety, coming back is exactly what we must do. And our peers in recovery are here to remind us. Showing Up for Sobriety We have to actively involve ourselves in the solution—treatment, therapy, meetings and working a program—in order to overcome addiction. If we do nothing, we can expect nothing. Conversely, if we show up for sobriety and actively involve ourselves in recovery-based activities, we can expect happiness and health. But we have to show up. Continuing to Show Up Eventually, if we are doing things correctly, we will begin to find a new peace and happiness, and we will begin to stack up our sober time. Incidentally, we might also forget the consequences of addiction. A sip of alcohol may become tempting, or a small dose of drugs may sound appealing. After all, our sobriety is proof that we have overcome addiction, and we might be able to safely use. Those types of thoughts will slowly creep into the mind and threaten us with relapse and a return to active addiction. And we quickly learn the hard way how important it is to keep coming back regardless of how much sober time we have. Coming Back for Others At some point, we grow comfortable in recovery. We lead a sober life that becomes self-rewarding, and the temptations of addiction are often nonexistent. Our sobriety faces no real threats, and we could miss a meeting without consequence. But we keep coming back for the community. We keep coming back for our friends at the meeting who just left treatment, for the newcomers who desperately want to be sober, and for the people who don't know how to stop drinking or using drugs. We keep coming back for others, and we repay the kindness we were once given. Getting Others to Come Back Our recovery eventually becomes larger than us. We give guidance and instruction to newcomers who wish to overcome addiction, and our sobriety becomes a source of hope for others who wish to become sober. Our presence allows people to believe in themselves and the process of recovery, and to see firsthand what life is like after active addiction. And we remind them to keep coming back, and we're glad when they do. We know that, one day, they'll repay the kindness to others. One Woman's Story of Coming Back When I first entered recovery, I struggled. I was filled with shame and frustration about the fact that I couldn't control my drinking and drug use. I was embarrassed and angry, and I didn't want to have to go to meetings, much less hold hands with strangers and say the Serenity Prayer. The people around me sensed this, I'm sure, and over and over again they told me to just "Keep coming back." I resented them for saying it, but for some reason I did just that—I kept coming back: to meetings, to fellowship, to my AA sponsor, to the people and to the place where I started my journey in recovery. All these years later, "Keep coming back" is my addiction recovery mantra. It's about the sense of connection and service and belonging I feel when I keep showing up, keep reaching out and keep searching for my truth. Keep showing up. Day after day and year after year, there are some lessons I seem to continually relearn in my recovery. "Keep showing up" tops the list. Whenever I start to let fear creep in by talking myself out of something I know, deep down, is good for my recovery, it's time to get out of my head and back to basics. My way forward always begins by simply showing up. Keep reaching out. I am forever grateful to the people who picked me up and took me to meetings when I was new to recovery. I am indebted to those who encouraged me to speak at meetings when I was terrified and felt I had nothing to offer. Such seemingly small gestures of support were hugely beneficial to my early recovery. Reaching out to others is the win-win of recovery. We strengthen our own recovery as much as we help fellow travelers along their way. Keep searching for your truth. As much as we share a common struggle and path, we can't do recovery for each other. It's by living our own lives honestly and authentically that we shine the light of recovery brighter for one another. So, today, guess what I say to others I see struggling in recovery? You got it: "Keep coming back." Stay connected. If you or someone you know is experiencing addiction to alcohol or other drugs, please reach out to Hazelden Betty Ford for answers and help at 1-866-831-5700. You don't need to manage the situation alone. Treatment is always available, and addiction recovery is always possible. There is no shame in needing help. We're here for you.