I first sought out sobriety from addictive internet and technology without even being aware of ITAA in Winter 2019 with a therapist’s assistance. The first month was rough—my recovery was fragile with sharp withdrawals, which is unsurprising in retrospect. What is surprising is that I was able to self-create an internet sobriety regimen in relative isolation and keep it going for as long as I did while many of my life fundamentals weren’t meaningfully resolved.
What took place in the ensuing two and a half years is unsettling, and informs where I need to lean on ITAA and ongoing spiritual development to maintain consistent strong sobriety across time and circumstance. I’ll succinctly relate the story: I was sober, sobriety was strong, time went on, life went on, and the true desperation that initially motivated my sobriety became ever more distant. As external circumstances changed, my grasp on sobriety loosened, my discipline waned, and then I fell off the wagon. It’s an oft-repeated, borderline stereotypical, somewhat depressing story. In my case, lack of life fundamentals and discipline, professional and financial troubles, and overall mental health troubles led to things going haywire. With that, I relapsed.
It’s hard to explain the sheer pit of desperation for the dopamine hit, the ‘creature in a tight enclosure’ sensation when you use so much and don’t want to, when you make promises you can’t keep, when you attend an ITAA meeting and use immediately afterward. In terms of firmly committing to the program, I still had to wrestle with some desperation before resolving to attend 90 meetings in 90 days.
The binge that got me to my current place in program lasted more or less continuously for a full week. There’s no hard mental demarcation of when or how it started—that’s the scary thing about near-constant use—time blurs. Physically and mentally on the floor that week, an insane fear gripped me. Primal, desperate fear. Fear of going back. Fear of the psychological, relational, professional, financial, and existential hells my addiction had kicked up for years. Nothing high-minded. That’s what brought me back to the point of powerlessness and defeat from which I could begin to surrender to the program and begin work.
What does working the program mean? Personally, a lot of it means that ITAA is on the calendar. That may sound overly simplistic, yet program during and after my 90 in 90 has been characterized by maintaining a consistent meeting schedule as my North Star. Ever since mid-May 2022, I’ve attended a meeting every day and maintained consistent sobriety. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges. It means advance scheduling helps make daily reprieve possible—not leaving recovery up for debate or at the mercy of unsteady feelings, thoughts, or willpower. They say keep coming back; I intend to keep showing up to ITAA every day.
Things haven’t always been easy and the future is unknown. Stepwork is work: maintaining daily spiritual fitness as a lifestyle to underpin and strengthen sobriety. It would be easy to pretend I can put a bow on all this—that’s untrue. I’m still new to this dance between vigilance and surrender. I seek to live a life of maximum service, discipline, and responsibility. I’m learning how to piece together the building blocks to successfully maintain consistent sobriety one day at a time. I’m learning how to work and live the program.
Page last updated on September 3, 2023