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Twelve Step Programs- A New Way to Live

Jul 31, 2008
For anyone who is or has known an addict in the problem it has most certainly been made apparent that a life based on self will run riot, obsession and compulsion, insanity, desperation and devastation, (to name a few of its characteristics) can hardly be a success. A using addict goes to any means and any lengths to get one more, to get that next fix that will cure all.

The only problem with this scenario is that one is too many and a thousand is never enough. An addict can never satisfy his/her craving because once the drug (and this applies to process addictions too such as gambling, sex, or shopping) has been consumed an allergic (abnormal reaction) takes place which makes it literally impossible to stop based on his/her own will power. This is coupled with an obsessive mind which convinces the addict that he/she can handle one or two more. Powerlessness and unmanageability.

This is the basis of the first and in my opinion the most important step. One must be able to admit and accept on a deep level that they are powerless over their addiction and when they use, unmanageability in every area of their life will set in. The irony of this step is that once one admits this powerlessness they are no longer powerless. This is because they open themselves up to a belief that a power greater than themselves can help them with their problem. Some call it God, others the power of positive recovering people in the club rooms. Whatever they choose, it is personal to them and that is why it works.

Twelve step programs are big on not telling someone what to believe in or how they should define that belief. The third step is all about making a decision to turn your will and life (many define this as your thinking and your actions) over to the care of God as you understand him. This can be understood as simply as choosing to do the next right thing or going on to working the rest of the twelve steps. The fourth and fifth step involve taking stock of defects, resentments, fears, and sexual misconduct in order to get rid of (fifth step) all those bad feelings which keep the addict stuck and continue to send the addict back out.

When the recovering addict uncovers his/her character flaws in the fourth step, he/she becomes willing to have them removed (sixth step), and tries to act opposite of them. They humbly ask God to remove them in the sixth and seven step and believe that God does that when they are willing and ready to change. In the eighth step and ninth step the addict makes a list of people and institutions they have harmed and become willing to make amends to them and then go ahead and make these amends. This is not simply going to those people and saying sorry and making excuses for their previous behavior.

Lord knows we said sorry enough times before and never meant it. Making amends means taking responsibility for past actions and making them right. Fixing them. The recovering addict pays people back or begins the process; they admit their wrong doings and make a commitment not to let it be repeated. In doing so a great deal of self esteem is built because they have gotten rid of so much guilt and shame in the process and most people will encourage them to continue on with their new way of life and keep up the good work. The last three steps are known as the maintenance steps. Ten involves continuing to take a daily personal inventory to stay on the right path with their thoughts and actions and promptly admit when they are wrong.

Eleven advises regular prayer and meditation to stay in touch with that power which the recovering addict uses as a source of strength, and twelve is about passing on this new way of life to others who are new and desperately need it, as well as continuing to practice the spiritual principles of the steps in their lives. It's a program for living. It's a program for change. It's a program of hope. The twelve principles in order are: honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, brotherly love, discipline, perseverance, awareness of God, and service. The twelve steps offer the addict a way of life which is indescribably wonderful.

Slogans such as first things first, easy does it, live and let live, one day at a time, think, think, think, just for today, along with the camaraderie of one addict helping another (sponsorship) keep the recovering addict coming back for more recovery at the meetings and passing on what they learn to new people who were once just like them.
About the Author
Zach Samuels is the author of Confessions of a Crack Head which can be found at Confessions of a Crack Head. The site offers resources for addicts and their families, a blog, a forum, contact information, and more.
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