Keeping Recovery Alive with “CPR” (part 1)

At the time of this post, we are in the midst of a season unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetime. Because of COVID-19, we are all being urged to practice social distancing, and many people are using the extra time to recalibrate some daily disciplines – physical, emotional, and spiritual. People are exercising more, praying and reading scripture more, and connecting more over phone and video chat.

What a perfect time for those of us in recovery to work on these same disciplines and cultivate some habits that will help our daily journey. In the midst of a global health crisis, we could all use a bit of CPR to help keep our recovery alive! So what can this look like?

Over the next three posts, we’ll take a look at each component that makes up CPR: Call, Pray, and Read. In this first post, we’ll take a look at making calls.


One of the best tools in the recovery toolbox is the phone. Whether by call, text, or video chat, our phone is a direct line to another person who can help us in our recovery journey. Many addicted people know what it’s like to have used our phones for very unhealthy or addictive purposes, but now we have the opportunity to use them for recovery.  So, when should we call and what should we talk about?


Early on in my recovery, my sponsor told me to call him every day. That seemed like a tall order, but when I was trying to figure out what a new life of sobriety looked like, it really helped to talk to him every day. He gave me good reminders about the basics of living in the moment and helped me talk through situations that came up each day. As we continue to walk our journey and find some serenity in our lives, a daily call may not be necessary, but regular calls with people in recovery will always be beneficial to us and to them. 

When Character Defects Crop Up

The Big Book of AA has one of my favorite suggestions for working Step 10: “Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone.” As we work this maintenance step and notice selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear cropping up, after asking God to remove the defect, we should discuss it with someone immediately. This applies to any defect of character or any situation where we are not sure what to do. Discussing these things with another person can help us to “get out of our own head” and have some clarity. 


Another great piece of advice given to me by my sponsor was to “bookend” events that could be difficult for our recovery. This simply means to make a phone call before and after a triggering event. It could be a business trip, a visit with a family member that triggers trauma, or (and this is especially relevant for where we are in Spring 2020) an extended period of time alone. When we know we are going to be in a situation that might be considered “middle circle,” ( ← click for info on Three Circles) discussing it with another person before and after the event can be very helpful. Before the event, we can discuss our plan for how to handle the feelings we expect to feel. And after the event, we can discuss what helped us stay sober during and after the event. 

One other note about phone calls: We should always express gratitude to the person who we call. One of my sponsors, when I thanked him for talking, would always respond “Thank you for helping me work my 12th step!”. When we call someone, we are not only helping our own recovery – we are helping them stay sober as well.

Everyone working a program of recovery should have a list of people they can call. If you don’t have a list, the next time you are at a meeting, ask a fellow member for their phone number. And if you already have a good list, offer your number to someone to whom you think you can be of service. Staying connected over the phone will help us all. 

In our next post, we’ll take a look at the second element of CPR: Pray. Stay tuned!

-A grateful member of the Awaken community

Awaken is a Birmingham, AL based ministry walking with individuals, couples, and ministry leaders who have been impacted by sexual brokenness & addiction. Our goal is to help people experience hope, connection, and healing through the gospel and the recovery process. For info on how to join our virtual meetings, contact us at!