January is a big month for newcomers, but even members who’ve been around for a while are not immune to drinking. Here is a list of suggestions to do before you throw your hard-earned sobriety (whether a few days or a few decades) away.

1. Remember that alcoholism is a progressive disease. Over time we get worse, never better. As the saying goes, “The elevator will go all the way down to the bottom, but you can get off on any floor.”

2. Just for today. It’s only a 24-hour program; all you have to do is go to bed sober tonight. But you can also take it one hour, or even 5 minutes, at a time.

3. Use the tools of the program: meetings, reaching out, praying, reading literature, service to others. We don’t do this alone.

4. Pick up the Big Book and read a story, or More About Alcoholism (chapter 3). Don’t like the Big Book? Pick up another piece of literature. Living Sober is a great, practical book for newcomers.

5. If you have a problem with the word God, or the male-centric language of the Big Book, or anything else, give yourself a chance anyway. You are not alone; thousands of alcoholics have had the same issues—A.A. is wide enough for you, too.

6. Remember what brought you into A.A. It is very uncommon for non-alcoholics to attend A.A. meetings and try to get sober. If you are alcoholic, you have crossed the “invisible line” and will never be able to control your drinking again.

7. Your return is not guaranteed. Any member who has been around for a while knows or has heard of members who chose to go out and never returned—because they died of the disease. Your return to A.A. (even if you’ve done it before or many times) or your continued life is not guaranteed.

8. Try gratitude. Hate the meetings? Go anyway or find different meetings. Try to find one good thing in every meeting, even if it’s that you didn’t drink for that hour.

9. Get a service commitment. The reason you hear this over and over is because it works.

10. Call the Central Office 24-Hour Hotline at (510) 839-8900 before you pick up. There will be another alcoholic on the other end who understands what you’re going through and is willing to help.