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Like most, our Orange County drug and alcohol treatment center believes that recovery comes first for addicts and alcoholics looking for better lives. Of course, once we get some time under our belts, recovery can often fall from the top of our priorities, and when that happens, we fall with it.

From lowest to highest, here is what we believe to be the strongest hierarchy for those starting to get sober.


Why does family come at the bottom? It comes at the bottom because many of us have pretty bad relations with our families when we first come in—if we have them at all.

After so many times saying that we’d get clean and sober, there’s a good chance that they won’t believe us. Then again, who can blame them? They have ample evidence that shows this time will be no different than the countless times you said that recovery comes first in the past.

In fact, even though our families can be an essential part of our support system, they can also bring us right back into our addictions. Alcoholism is a family disease, and when we stay mired in the problems and the old behavior, it can be the fast-track back to the liquor store or dope-man.


Without a career, you can’t support a family. If you’re not at a meeting and you have no career, you are probably sitting around and getting bored. Boredom leads to relapse.

Careers are a lot like commitments. They teach us how to be responsible, they keep us from getting stuck in our heads, and help us rebuild some self-esteem. However, we have to be careful not to go from alcoholism to workaholism. It is easy to put off going to meetings or working with a sponsor by using the excuse you have work, but if you neglect either of those for too long, you won’t have a job much longer.

A Relationship with God and Ourselves

Without God, we have nothing. If we cannot have a healthy relationship with ourselves, how can we possibly have a relationship with God?

We need to learn how to live with ourselves, and with the help of our Higher Power, we can overcome anything. Things that we thought were outside of our reach are surprisingly attainable once we get sober—things like a career and a family.

Recovery Comes First

Recovery comes first because without it, we don’t have or we lose all these other gifts in our lives. We cannot have a relationship with our Creator or ourselves if we are still committed to self-destruction.

Once we put down the drugs and alcohol, we allow ourselves to be open to receive the gifts that recovery provides. Until we do that, though, we are doomed to repeat the same routine that led us to our path of destruction.

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