Math Tips for the First 90 Days

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” Swami Sivananda

I was a newcomer for fifteen years. I never got more than 90 days but once, only to give it right back shortly after that. I couldn’t seem to crack the code. There is a mathematical approach to recovery I had not picked up on. Achieving peace of mind in the face of terminal illness, or radical acceptance of unjust harms may have been a form of spiritual calculus to me at the time of being new. How to have healthy romantic relationships which honored my partner and me, or how to be happily productive in a job that I wasn’t inspired by, also was a form of spiritual algebra. The more straightforward task of not using alcohol or drugs would require a therapeutic, practical and spiritual approach that was mathematical basics. Subtraction, addition, division, and multiplication seemed to work best for me. Remedial lessons will always precede intermediate and advanced.


  • People, Places and things – we must remove old playgrounds and playmates. There is no legitimate reason to have old using partners, dealers, or hangouts in our lives. All associations should be immediately cut and numbers blocked or deleted.
  • Toxic relationships – Those not supportive of our new way of life should be avoided. Some people may not be able to be avoided entirely, so a respectful conversation to request boundaries being respected may be needed.
  • Unethical employment – When trying to build one’s character we should avoid any behaviors which will increase self-judgment. Making money in immoral ways will decrease the odds of recovery significantly.
  • New Romantic Relationships – Many will play the semantics game of “not looking to get in a relationship” but want sexual involvement. There are several reasons this usually doesn’t work out well. Primarily our emotions can not tell the difference. Jealousy, insecurity, guilt, and harming others do not get sidestepped by “labels” or lack of “labels.” The saying “If you want to put miracle grow on your character defects get in a relationship.”, Is a common saying for a reason. The second largest reason is sex is used very similarly to substances. If nothing changes, nothing changes.
  • Idle Time – Boredom is the space where many bad decisions are born. Subtract boredom but increasing activities. Extra meetings, walking, working out, fellowshipping, and time invested in growth are some of the healthiest choices.

This list should sound very familiar. These are the staples of a recovery lifestyle.

  • Meetings – Regular daily meeting attendance. Although meetings themselves are not the answer, they are where we go to hear, share and find partners to practice this new way of life.
  • Prayer – Regardless of our spiritual beliefs or lack of beliefs, asking for help to get through the day clean in sober is a solid idea. We were unable to get through some dais on our power alone, so whats the harm in asking? It works for millions.
  • Supports – If we are not getting with people who are experienced in recovery where are we getting our advice from? We should not only be getting numbers but using them, most importantly in times when it appears like things are going well. We can talk about our living environments, jobs, friendships, and almost generally anything. This will be awkward at first but, if we aren’t doing it when things are going well, we will very likely not do it when we do need the help of others.
  • Sponsor – The sponsor has one job: to bring the sponsee through the12 steps. No sponsor, no steps.
  • Step work – Not doing the steps but going to a 12 step fellowship is the same as going to the bar and not ordering a drink, you will not get the desired effect. “Here are the steps we suggest as a program of recovery.” (Big Book pg. 58) The steps are not a part of the program. The steps are the program!


  • By applying the above actions, we will divide our stress, poor decisions, guilt, resentments, selfish behavior and fears as a byproduct.


  • The above will also result in us multiplying our self-worth, dignity, usefulness to ourselves and others and instill a sense of purpose.

It adds up for all who try it.

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