We recover, I relapse

With the odds of beating addiction and leading a productive life so low, the question has to be asked:  Why do some recover?  What is it that those few people are doing that opens up the door for an addiction-free life?

There are many factors involved, Divine intervention being one of them!  But overall, the current path showing the best results are the 12-step programs.  “So what are they doing that other programs are not?” you may ask.  And I am here to tell you what I believe it is.

The fundamental aspect of the 12-step programs is that you do not go it alone.  One of the very first suggestions to a newcomer is to get a sponsor.  It is strongly suggested that the person you choose to be your sponsor has at least one year in the program, goes to meetings regularly, has a sponsor them self, and inspires you to stick around.  This person should be of the same sex; or in cases of gay or lesbian, they should be the opposite sex.  Many deep emotional processes will be encountered in this relationship, and having a romantic interest would destroy the sanctity of the sponsor.

It is well-known in the 12-step world that if you ignore this suggestion, the chances of your gaining long-term sobriety are bleak.  Addiction is a disease of denial and deception.  And who knows better if you are living in denial or deceit than someone who is all too familiar with those states of being?  The old saying “You can’t bullcrap a bullcrapper” (insert your own profanity if you so choose) really applies here.

“An addict alone is in bad company”

Life was not intended to be lived in solitary.  We live in the Realm of Relativity and we need others to help us shape our perspective.  This is especially true to the recovering person as they have spent nearly their entire existence telling lies.  This reminds me of a 12-step joke. Please indulge me here….

Do you know how to tell if a newcomer is lying?” says one 12-stepper to another? “Yes,” the other person says, “when their lips are moving!”

Sometimes recovery is down and dirty and you have to assume the worst in order to help someone get through a tough time.  The one thing old-timers in the rooms know, pulling punches never helps anyone.  You have to be straight, direct, blunt, and willing to alienate someone if your gut instincts tell you they are up to their old tricks.

This is the area that the 12-step programs have nailed down perfectly.  We do not need to have people in our lives that tell us what we want to hear.  What everyone needs are people surrounding them who will speak their truth at all times.  Compulsive behaviors, addiction, and deception cannot be practiced in the light of honesty and openness; this is what gives way to long-term sobriety.  The Tenth Step says something profound:

“We continue to take personal inventory, and when we are wrong, promptly admit it.”

Wow! Imagine the world for just a moment if everyone used just that tiny part of the 12-step program in their daily life!  Nevermind the humility it takes to do that, but think about the amazing conversations that we would be having with each other.  Humans would bond together like molecules of water, ebbing and flowing with purpose through life.  Some may argue that there is no “right and wrong.”  And I will give you that.  So let’s change the wording slightly:

“We continue to take personal inventory.  And when we become aware that something we are doing is not an expression of who and what we are at our core, we promptly seek to make the changes necessary to bring ourselves back into alignment.”

Let’s face it, we are human.  And “to err is human.”  This is the beauty of the Realm of the Relative. We always have events occurring that could use improvement.  This is a process of evolution we are in here, and we have many opportunities to move along that path together. Every opportunity to express ourselves in our highest expression moves us to a place of greater understanding.  By purposefully being aware of our own behavior, how it is sent, and how it is received, we offer ourselves and the other the space for expansion.

(Kevin McCormack is a Conversations with God Life Coach, a Spiritual helper on www.changingchange.net, and an Addictions recovery advisor.  You can visit his website for more information at www.Kevin-Spiritualmentor.com  To connect with Kevin, please email him at Kevin@theglobalconversation.com)

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  • Mark A. Michael

    My experience and what I have watched through the years is the willingness to change, with willingness being an action step. Wanting and needing the program are two big differences in my opinion. Many need it, but few want it and are willing to go to any lengths to get recovery.

    Amen brother! Ya gots to wants it!

  • Cal

    kevin I have been to many aa/na’s meeting and I think I have a grasp of what goes on in those rooms. I feel that the main mantra, that one is powerless, that alcoholism is a disease, actually invites that ideology where it might not be the reality for the person, and can cause more harm than good.

    That being said many speak of the benefits of the program and more power to them.

    I have written about the idea of powerlessness and how some may not be comfortable with that concept. To that I would ask a newcomer what are your options here? Can you look at this differently and rise above the programs notion of powerlessness and still recover? Or is this just your excuse to say this doesn’t work I’m going back to drugs and alcohol, sex and gambling, food or shopping etc… If a person is aware enough to know that in fact they do have power over everything they do, they can then choose to take the bits that work and discard the rest. But if said person continues to choose addictive behaviors are they really aware enough to make a determination like this? I say no. I feel it is best to give the program that works the best the credit it deserves and for the newcomer the suggestion would be to sit on their idea for 90 days and re-evaluate what it is they believe.

    Regardless of spiritual belief vs the semi-christian belief of the 12-step programs, the steps are a common sense way to go through life while consciously making positive changes to a rather defective way of thinking.

    I certainly encourage the talk of creation vs powerlessness any chance I get, and I appreciate you bringing that topic to the forefront. Kevin