ILBS S4 80 | Avoid A Relapse


Be determined and consistent if you want to strive for a clean and sober life and avoid a relapse. Don’t let your addiction come resurfacing into your life because you’ll only regret it. Tune into this episode as Tim Westbrook explains the mistake you should avoid if you want a smooth recovery and life transformation. Not finishing the 12-step program will not benefit you in any way. So lean in and listen carefully because this episode could significantly impact how you can live a sober life!

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How To Avoid A Relapse: Mistake #3 Not Finishing The Steps

Let’s get clear on one thing. We believe that a relapse or a slip is not a part of recovery and that is exactly why this show is dedicated to you or any loved one you know in their first year of striving to live a clean and sober life. The purpose of this show is to come clean with all of the misinformation that is out there about recovery, addiction treatment, mental illness and the strategies to stay sober in general.

If you believe you are in the right place or if you know someone who is struggling with addiction, it is my privilege to share this show with you. I have no idea if you and I have ever met but what I do know is that AA saved my life. I also know that defining long-term recovery and live happy, joyous and free is not just about stopping your drinking, drugging, gambling, sexual indiscretions or any other addiction you may have struggled with or suffered from. At Camelback Recovery, we believe that sobriety can and should be fun. Any recovery process is not easy. It is challenging. It can sometimes be annoying.

For most of us, it is often difficult to stay on the path. Here is the good news. The self-awareness you gained from reading this show, especially if you are in your first year of recovery, will help you make better choices, which will ultimately lead you to live a kick-ass sober life. Visit to learn more about our treatment strategies for alcoholism, drug addiction or mental illness. We even offer recovery coaching so that you can enjoy the freedom and happiness you have always searched for.

Welcome to the 80th episode. Although your first year in sobriety is central to our discussions, you and I will also explore other fascinating and important topics such as health and fitness, self-care, food and nutrition, breathwork and biohacking just to name a few. All of these things are your gateway to living a kick-ass sober life, which is our mantra at Camelback Recovery.

In this episode, you will learn about the third mistake that leads to relapse along with how to avoid it. This is mistake number three. You will discover that not finishing the steps is one of the mistakes people make that leads to a slip, along with why it is so important to avoid this mistake if you want to avoid it. I will share how you can avoid this mistake. I am going to share my story along with a couple of other stories of other people and how they either finished the steps or did not finish the steps and how that ended.

ILBS S4 80 | Avoid A Relapse

Avoid A Relapse: When picking out your sponsor, it doesn’t need to be the perfect sponsor. You just need somebody that’s willing to be your sponsor.


Based on what you read in this episode, you will be able to figure out how it works for you. This episode could have a significant impact on how you can make it to a year and much closer to living a kick-ass sober life. Also, this show is like an AA meeting. Everyone here is either clean and sober, struggling to get clean and sober, maybe on the verge of a relapse, thinking about getting clean and sober, maybe a loved one of someone that should get clean and sober or whatever it may be.

If you read anything that resonates with you throughout this episode, please let us know in the comments section of YouTube or Apple. What you share might resonate with someone else and possibly save them from a relapse or maybe even save their life. Every review and comment gets us that much closer to helping one more person or family. Do not be shy.

The third mistake you must be aware of if you want to avoid a slip is not finishing the steps. Completing the steps is part of the foundation of your recovery and not finishing the steps means that the foundation on which your recovery is built is not complete. Finishing your steps is one of the main ways you will build a solid foundation.

It means you are following through with what you started. You start and finish. You just finished the steps. You say you are going to do it, follow through and do it. Before you got clean and sober likely, you started many things that you did not finish. Maybe you were not reliable and responsible. You did not do what you said you were going to do, lying, cheating and stealing. This is a different way of living life.

12 Step Program

Regardless of what happens, even if your life starts to get better or even if you start to feel better, you must follow through and finish the steps through to the end. Maybe you are not part of the Twelve-Step program. Maybe you are involved in some other recovery program. If you are part of some other recovery program, make sure that you finish whatever it is that you start.

Completing the steps is part of the foundation to your recovery.

Making a commitment and following through, clearing away the wreckage of your past, digging deep to learn more about yourself and why you did what you did, looking at your part of all of the resentments you have, making amends accordingly and figuring out your values. What are your values? Live according to your values moving forward.

This is how you wipe the slate clean and start living a new life. You cannot start living a new life until this process has been completed. This is part of the recovery process. The first three steps are easy. The real work begins in step four. The freedom from the guilt and the shame starts at step five. There is more relief at step 9 once you start completing your 9th step amends. It is a process. You cannot skip stepping nine. I have seen people try to do that.

Lots of people get clean and sober. They want to go straight to step nine and start making their amends. You are not ready yet. You have got to do the steps in order. Step ten is how you continuously clean up your wreckage as it happens in real-time. This is how you keep the slate clean and the guilt and shame from resurfacing.

Step eleven is when you ask your higher power for direction and guidance. “God show me what to do,” or whatever your higher power is. This is learning to pray for God’s will, not your will. Before getting clean and sober, finishing the steps and getting involved with the Twelve-Step program, I used to pray for self-serving things. “God, please help me not get in trouble and get out of this. If I get out of this, I will never do it again. God, help me please not to get caught. God, help me get this job, this girl and get laid tonight,” whatever it may be.

Higher Power

For most people, this is what they pray for. “God, please help me to make it through, be successful and win this race.” Those are the things that are self-serving. When I pray for the things that I want, I am setting myself up to be resentful of God. When I pray for God’s will, then I am praying that whatever happens, it is up to God. God, my higher power, the universe and somebody besides Tim are in control. Living that way has been so much easier because I am not in control. I do not need to pray for things to happen the way that I want them to happen. Things happen the way that they are supposed to. Everything always works out exactly the way that it is supposed to, according to God’s plan.

ILBS S4 80 | Avoid A Relapse

Avoid A Relapse: Focus on working your steps. Once you find a sponsor, work through your steps honestly, take direction and guidance from your sponsor. Follow and take suggestions.


When I am praying for God’s will and God’s plan, even if I do not agree with things that are happening and how they are happening, at the end of the day, looking back, hindsight being 2020, I always say, “I did not think that was going to happen that way.” It always works out better than I planned it. I can tell you that much. Step twelve is carrying the message of Alcoholics Anonymous and being of service. It keeps me involved, engaged and accountable to worked and be involved in the Twelve-Step program.


Most people do the first three steps, which are easy to do. Some people do the first three steps. They do not want to do the work because step four is when the real work begins. You can do the first three steps. Life gets a little better. Next thing you know, the focus shifts. You find a girl or a guy. You are looking for sex and money. You get your job back or find a new job. Things at work start to get a little better. Sports get a little better. You start exercising and feel a little bit better. The focus shifts away from the steps to these other things.

What happens when the relationship does not work out, you get fired or things at work are not going as planned? You are back to looking at yourself and that is when relapse happens. I have seen it time and time again. My experience with working on the steps is that I finished the steps. I got clean and sober. I got a sponsor. I started going to meetings. I met with my sponsor every week. I called my sponsor daily and diligently did step work. I did not fly through the steps. It took me several months to get through the steps but I was doing step work regularly.

I was journaling, taking instructions or directions from my sponsor and doing what he told me to do. That was my focus. I did not date or try to go out and get a new relationship. I was not seeking a new relationship. I focused on myself because I was focused on transformation. I wanted to be a different person and learn how to live life differently. I knew that I needed to finish the steps. I was at a point where I wanted to start dating. I was 6 to 8 months into the deal but was not done with the steps yet.

I remember my sponsor said, “Do not start dating yet. Wait until you are finished with the steps. If you start seeking out a relationship, your focus is going to shift and you will not finish the steps.” I am so grateful that I took his suggestion and finished the steps. Mind you, I am still clean and sober. I am one of the few people that did not relapse. More than 90% of people relapse within their 1st year. I would attribute that finishing the steps was a big part of why I did not relapse.

Whatever happens, God’s in control. The higher power is in control.

I have got another story about a guy named John, a guy that I sponsored and I talked about him in episode 78. He did not finish the steps. He was working the steps and was doing great. He did steps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. It was so crazy. Hindsight being 2020, looking back at John, I remember there were excuses. “I cannot meet this week because I have got to do this.” The next thing you know, he was getting away from the program, not finishing what he started and not following through with what he said he was going to do.

When you are not able to fulfill a commitment that you make to yourself, it hurts you. He started dating. The next thing you know, he has a girlfriend. He was so close to finishing the steps. His focus shifts. He ended up relapsing. If you want to hear the story, check out episode 78. He is back. We are doing the steps again and we are meeting weekly. I hope that he follows through and finishes the steps to step twelve because that is the only way he has a chance.

I have another sponsee of mine, his name is David. I met David at CASS, which is the homeless shelter. I used to bring a meeting to the shelter a couple of times a week. David was diligent and worked the steps. I met with David every week. He completed the steps. He did the steps through to the end. Here we are, years later, he is still clean and sober.

The reality in my experience is people who do not finish the steps do not stay sober. I have seen this happen with people I sponsor, people I do not sponsor, people in the rooms of AA or any Twelve-Step fellowship for that matter and with our clients at Camelback Recovery. The people that do not do the work do not stay sober. Focus on finishing the steps. You started it, finish it. The way you do it is you get a sponsor, someone that has what you want and ask them to take you through the steps. It is up to you. Your sponsor is not going to force you through the steps. You have to say, “Let’s get this thing going.”

My uncle got into the program. We had a men’s group that we went to every Thursday. He came for a while. I remember his sponsor was not as available. He did the first three steps. Every week, it would be like, “Jim was not available. I have not met with Jim. I am still stuck on step three. I might need to get a new sponsor. I am not sure.” The suggestion that I gave my uncle was, “If your sponsor is not available, you need to go get a new sponsor.” It is up to you to make sure that you finish the steps. Your sponsor is there to guide you through the steps but he is not going to be super aggressive about it.

ILBS S4 80 | Avoid A Relapse

Avoid A Relapse: Figure out what works for you. You are focused on transforming your life. It takes a lot of work and a lot of focus to get this done.


Remember, the reason he is sponsoring you is so that he stays sober. When picking out your sponsor, it does not need to be the perfect sponsor. You just need a sponsor, somebody that is willing to be your sponsor or somebody that has what you want. I remember my very first sponsor’s name was Ray. I met him at Prince of Peace, the second meeting I went to. Ray said, “I will sponsor you if you want.” I said, “Great.” I remember I was working with Ray. We did the first three steps. I met with him every week. I called him every single day. He was super helpful in getting me on the path. I remember he was an attorney but I did not have a lot in common with him.

I remember thinking, “I do not know if he is the right sponsor for me.” Things happened. There was another guy that I bumped into. I owned a home in Arcadia and it was a nice home. I was looking for a new tenant for this home. It was a vacation rental and I received an application from someone. His wife and the realtor came in toward my home. In looking at the application, I realized that he was on the Board of Directors of Crossroads, which is a non-profit treatment center. Anybody that is on the Board of Directors of Crossroads is also in the Twelve-Step program.

This guy whose name was Todd had what I wanted. He was successful in business and life. He had fifteen years of sobriety at that time. He was more in line with the lifestyle that I wanted to live. I asked him to be my sponsor. He ended up being my sponsor for the first seven years of my sobriety. I am grateful to Ray. He was not the perfect sponsor but he was the perfect sponsor at the beginning of my first three steps. When I realized he was not the perfect sponsor, I moved to another sponsor. It is okay and it is easy to switch sponsors. I have another sponsor because it was time for me to change sponsors again. It was my feeling.

Once you find a sponsor, focus on working the steps. You work them honestly and thoroughly. Take direction and guidance from your sponsor. Take suggestions. Remember, your best thinking got you where you are. Listening to somebody else and doing the steps as prescribed or instructed is going to be the best thing that you can do for yourself. You are focused on transforming your life. It takes a lot of work and focus to get this done.

Not Finishing The Steps

Here is a quick review of the insights you and I both rediscovered in this 80th episode of the show. The third mistake people make that leads to relapse is not finishing the steps, along with why avoiding this mistake is imperative if you want to avoid a relapse. I also shared with you my experience with finishing the steps, along with a few other stories of other people who both finished the steps and people that did not finish the steps. Based on the stories I shared in this episode, you can figure out how you can avoid this mistake and how it works for you.

Your sponsor is not going to force you through the 12 steps. You have to be the one to keep going.

Remember, these insights will only work for you if you work them. Please make sure you apply what you have learned in this episode. If you do, you will be on your way to live in a kick-ass sober life. You will agree that is exciting to think about. Speaking of reviews, before we end this episode, I want you to go to the review section on iTunes or leave a comment on YouTube.

Type in one thing that resonated with you in this episode. Every comment counts and what you share could resonate with someone else that is struggling and potentially save their life. You will also be asked to rate this episode. I hope that I have earned five stars from you. Go ahead and share the one thing that resonated with you in the reviews section of iTunes. It will take three minutes out of your day but what you share could not only save you but also someone’s life.

That does it for this episode. I hope that our paths cross again in the next episode. Do whatever it takes to join me for episode 81 because we are going to dig into mistake number four, getting into a relationship. I will share my experience with this mistake along with how to avoid it. I encourage you to invite a friend, a loved one or a sponsee to read the show. I cannot wait to connect with you then. It will be an insightful episode. I want you to join us with your loved ones.


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