Recovery is definitely a process. Most of all, it's a process of lifestyle change. The person who put his last drink away over a year ago is not the same person now --  I can't live like I did when I was drinking and expect to maintain my sobriety. The trials and tribulations I've faced have caused heartache, but also great pride. Living a sober life has changed my moral compass, and it has most definitely changed my priorities. Today, safety is number one, followed very, very closely by my sobriety. If I stay safe, I should never have to take another drink, I know in my heart I will never be able to drink safely again.

Living my life free of alcohol definitely has its pros and cons. Although giving up the high cost of low living has great value and potential, I didn't have a bad time every time I drank. I met some great people, and I did some great things. The disease of alcoholism that runs in my blood is 98% between my ears, and 2% in my will power.

The party scene was always a comfort zone for me. No one noticed my pain -- I could hide it a lot better than if I was sober. But arresting my disease does not mean that the party is over, at least not for me. I can fully live the experience of a concert now, without the fear of what tomorrow will be like. I can go to house parties where my friends drink. I can go for wings at a pub. I can live a happier life sober than I can in active addiction.

Despite my ability to be around alcohol without taking a drink, I have learned that there still comes a time when I have to walk away from the party. Remember -- safety is number one, and I'm not invincible . When people get really intoxicated, I have to remove myself -- that's what's best for me, and everyone around me. It wouldn't be safe for me to stay.

Playing the tape all the way through has given me some insight into what the likely outcome would be if I chose to indulge in alcohol or drugs again. Although I can still be around alcohol to a certain point, I've realized I cannot be around drugs any longer. I have seen and been around them in my year of sobriety, and it has almost ruined everything. I shouldn't have to tiptoe around and be fearful of who is using around me. I deserve better. I just remove myself from these situations. That's the safest, and to date most effective, yet unbelievably difficult approach. The difference between alcohol and drugs is that sitting in a pub or bar has its purposes -- chicken wings, watching the game, hanging out with friends. I wouldn't go in for a soda, and smell the beer taps. But regardless of my purpose, when the drunk level goes from enjoyable to sloppy, it's time for me to leave.

I don't feel bad for myself. Like I said before, just because I chose to put down the bottle doesn't mean I can't have fun. I catch more fish when I'm sober. I shoot a better score in golf when I don't have to play around the beer cart. Overall, my life as a whole is much better sober. Most importantly, I've learned about compassion for myself, and for my journey. I believe everyone should develop this feeling for themselves. We're human, not infallible machines. Rest easy with where you are at today. Don't remove the fun in your life when you remove the substances. Life is amazing when you choose to truly live.