1. We admitted we were powerless over our emotions, that our lives had become unmanageable.2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to emotionally and mentally ill persons and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The only way to truly help most drug addicts and most alcoholics is to—instead of them—change reality.
We create our own reality. The blessing (or problem) with this is that when one creates one's own reality, one must live it! Are you living a blessing or is it a curse?
Think about the stigma that is attached to the idea that alcoholism is a disease, an incurable illness, and you have it. That's a terrible thing to inflict on someone. Labeling alcoholism as a disease, a cause unto itself, simply no longer fits with what we know today about its causes.
Times change and discoveries are made that render earlier techniques and approaches less effective. Change is inevitable. To remain rigid when the whole world is changing and advancing is to invite misfortune. The AA program in particular is challenged with an opportunity of unprecedented magnitude.
Like most people who decide to get sober, I was brought to Alcoholics Anonymous. While AA certainly works for others, its core propositions felt irreconcilable with my own experiences. I couldn't, for example, rectify the assertion that alcoholism is a disease with the facts of my own life.The idea that by simply attending an AA meeting, without any consultation, one is expected to take on a blanket diagnosis of diseased addict was to me, at best, patronizing. At worst, irresponsible. Irresponsible because it doesn't encourage people to turn toward and heal the actual underlying causes of their abuse of substances.I drank for thirteen years for REALLY good reasons. Among them were unprocessed grief, parental abandonment, isolation, violent trauma, anxiety and panic, social oppression, a general lack of safety, deep existential discord, and a tremendous diet and lifestyle imbalance. None of which constitute a disease, and all of which manifest as profound internal, mental, emotional and physical discomfort, which I sought to escape by taking external substances.It is only through one's own efforts to turn toward life on its own terms and to develop a wiser relationship to what's there through mindfulness and compassion that make freedom from addictive patterns possible. My sobriety has been sustained by facing life, processing grief, healing family relationships, accepting radically the fact of social oppression, working with my abandonment conditioning, coming into community, renegotiating trauma, making drastic diet and lifestyle changes, forgiving, and practicing mindfulness, to name just a few. Through these things, I began to relieve the very real pressure that compulsive behaviors are an attempt to resolve.
Each person in the group said something except for me. My silence became noticed. About halfway through the meeting I started to think, I've got to talk. Today, I've got to talk. Fear racked me so bad that sweat ran down my sides. I thought, After the curly-haired woman stops talking I'll raise my hand. A man with a cocky smile told the curly woman that her story was nothing compared to his, he'd been passed out cold from heroin and God knows what, and I wanted to tell him to quit glorifying hinself. I was just about to say the words, a few faces turned toward me as if they could sense my imminent speech, when a man across the circle interrupted.The opportunity passed; what I wanted to say wouldn't fit now. I tilted on the back two legs of the chair and waited for my desire to speak and be noticed and be part of the group to travel back through my nervous system. Up the synapses condemnation rushed: Why couldn't I spit something out like a normal person?
Every person in the AA program who's successful is living proof that he or she does have power over addictive drugs and alcohol- the power to stop.
The life of the Addict is always the same. There is no excitement, no glamour, no fun. There are no good times, there is no joy, there is no happiness. There is no future and no escape. There is only an obsession. An all-encompassing, fully enveloping, completely overwhelming obsession. To make light of it, brag about it, or revel in the mock glory of it is not in any way, shape or form related to its truth, and that is all that matters, the truth.
When people who believe themselves to be addicts or alcoholics come under great stress or trauma, they mentally give themselves permission to drink or use drugs as a remedy.
This is the point where the knowing, irony-infused author laughs along with his readers about his time among the aphorisms, how he was once so gullible and needy that he drank deeply of such weak and fruity Kool-Aid. That's some other book. Slogans saved my life. All of them--the dumb ones, the preachy ones, the imperatives, the cliches, the injunctives, the gooey, Godly ones, the shameless, witless ones.