Addiction Recovery…Don’t Do It Alone

We, as humans, are social animals.

From birth we learn from our family; as children, friends take on a bigger role until when in our teens, the collective wisdom of our peers exerts a primal influence. As adults we tend to think it all past us, but in reality our peer environment still influences our actions and perceptions, and the people we choose to associate with tend to have a profound impact on our lives.

And this is why although recovery alone is possible, recovery in a group is far more possible, and for the best likelihood of success recovery should harness the power of the group.

As using addicts or alcoholics, we tend to associate socially with others who share our life-focus for intoxication; it’s a natural byproduct of the disease! We take our social cues from our group of peers, and in a big way what we perceive to be acceptable standards of behaviors are derived from what others around us are also doing.

If I drink 12 beers a day but my friend drinks 24 beers a day, well, I’m a moderate drinker!

Getting into rehab offers a lot. It offers a period of enforced sobriety, which can transform a life on its own. It offers the wisdom and guidance of addictions professionals, and it offers classes in relapse avoidance and life skills that impart the tools we’ll need to succeed. But more, much more than this, it also offers us the inspiration of others also in recovery.

We learn through the process of group recovery that although we are unique as individuals, our problems with drugs and alcohol share an incredible similarity. We also see that if others, who have it just as bad as we do, can recover – then there is no reason why we can’t too. There is a real sense of inspiration that comes from working together towards a common goal with others who share the same troubles; and it can work a real magic on even the most reluctant and hard-headed of addicts.

Rehab is supposed to be a place of transformation, and there is true power in this collective effort of recovery. You might be able to do it alone, but it’s easier and far more likely done in a group setting.

Find a place of healing where you can find your inspiration. Find a group of fellow alcoholics or addicts who understand you as you understand them, and start your journey towards recovery together. It helps.

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We, as humans, are social animals.

From birth we learn from our family; as children, friends take on a bigger role until when in our teens, the collective wisdom of our peers exerts a primal influence. As adults we tend to think it all past us, but in reality our peer environment still influences our actions and perceptions, and the people we choose to associate with tend to have a profound impact on our lives.

And this is why although recovery alone is possible, recovery in a group is far more possible, and for the best likelihood of success recovery should harness the power of the group.

As using addicts or alcoholics, we tend to associate socially with others who share our life-focus for intoxication; it’s a natural byproduct of the disease! We take our social cues from our group of peers, and in a big way what we perceive to be acceptable standards of behaviors are derived from what others around us are also doing.

If I drink 12 beers a day but my friend drinks 24 beers a day, well, I’m a moderate drinker!

Getting into rehab offers a lot. It offers a period of enforced sobriety, which can transform a life on its own. It offers the wisdom and guidance of addictions professionals, and it offers classes in relapse avoidance and life skills that impart the tools we’ll need to succeed. But more, much more than this, it also offers us the inspiration of others also in recovery.

We learn through the process of group recovery that although we are unique as individuals, our problems with drugs and alcohol share an incredible similarity. We also see that if others, who have it just as bad as we do, can recover – then there is no reason why we can’t too. There is a real sense of inspiration that comes from working together towards a common goal with others who share the same troubles; and it can work a real magic on even the most reluctant and hard-headed of addicts.

Rehab is supposed to be a place of transformation, and there is true power in this collective effort of recovery. You might be able to do it alone, but it’s easier and far more likely done in a group setting.

Find a place of healing where you can find your inspiration. Find a group of fellow alcoholics or addicts who understand you as you understand them, and start your journey towards recovery together. It helps.

The Christian 12 Steps

The founding fathers of Alcoholics Anonymous wanted to reduce any barriers to entry into their lifesaving spiritual program; and so although devout Christians, these men decided to organize their recovery group as a spiritual but secular recovery organization. Which considering the religious climate of the time, was a remarkably inclusive and modern act of forethought; and has allowed millions of non Christians to benefit from an organization of hope, guidance and sobriety.

Pray to Jesus

But although the terms God or Jesus are replaced with higher power, the philosophies and Faith based teachings are all very Christian in nature, and AA does mandate a belief in a higher power to follow the 12 steps to recovery. Because the roots and philosophies are so closely linked to Christianity and a belief in God, the use of AA in Christian rehab programs is not much of a stretch; and when used in a Christian facility, instead of praying to a higher power, prayer is directed as a group towards a Christian God and to Jesus Christ. Because a Christian recovery group prays to the same God, recovering drug and alcohol addicts can unite in prayer together, enjoy stories of faith and spiritual recovery through God’s will, and use bible readings and scripture study for discussion and meditation within the programming and meetings of a Christian 12 steps group.

To truly follow the 12 steps, you need to accept God into your heart, you need to pray to God to make you a better person by removing some of your weaknesses and shortcomings; and you need to look and pray to God for spiritual guidance, enabling you to live a better and meaningful life of sobriety. AA can’t work without an acceptance of powerlessness, and since prayer remains essential to recovery, it makes sense for Christian men and women to unite together in groups where that prayer is unified and directed at a shared God and with a shared Faith.

Christian 12 steps meetings are meaningful to the faithful

Christian 12 steps recovery groups take what’s effective about the AA program and make it more meaningful by teaching the lessons of the Christian Faith and adding the true lessons of the Bible into the recovery matrix. I remain active in the AA support group I started in all those years ago, but I also enjoy an occasional meeting with fellow Christian addicts in recovery within my Church community.

There is something elemental and profound about joining together and seeking spiritual guidance towards betterment with others who share a similar belief and conviction, and although I’m grateful for the fellowship of my original AA group, I do appreciate joining with fellow Christians for group prayers to Jesus Christ in our communal battle for sobriety. You can find Christian 12 steps groups through most churches and Christian community groups, and Christian rehabs generally use the 12 Christian steps as a part of their recovery programming.

The 12 steps of AA don’t work for everyone, but they do work for many, and AA has saved many millions of lives since its inception. For Christians, combining what’s great about AA with a true expression of your Faith makes it more powerful, more relevant, and I believe better able to offer success and sobriety. I encourage all Christians in recovery to join a Christian 12 steps meeting, and enjoy Christian fellowship and shared recovery through Jesus Christ.

The founding fathers of Alcoholics Anonymous wanted to reduce any barriers to entry into their lifesaving spiritual program; and so although devout Christians, these men decided to organize their recovery group as a spiritual but secular recovery organization. Which considering the religious climate of the time, was a remarkably inclusive and modern act of forethought; and has allowed millions of non Christians to benefit from an organization of hope, guidance and sobriety.

Pray to Jesus

But although the terms God or Jesus are replaced with higher power, the philosophies and Faith based teachings are all very Christian in nature, and AA does mandate a belief in a higher power to follow the 12 steps to recovery. Because the roots and philosophies are so closely linked to Christianity and a belief in God, the use of AA in Christian rehab programs is not much of a stretch; and when used in a Christian facility, instead of praying to a higher power, prayer is directed as a group towards a Christian God and to Jesus Christ. Because a Christian recovery group prays to the same God, recovering drug and alcohol addicts can unite in prayer together, enjoy stories of faith and spiritual recovery through God’s will, and use bible readings and scripture study for discussion and meditation within the programming and meetings of a Christian 12 steps group.

To truly follow the 12 steps, you need to accept God into your heart, you need to pray to God to make you a better person by removing some of your weaknesses and shortcomings; and you need to look and pray to God for spiritual guidance, enabling you to live a better and meaningful life of sobriety. AA can’t work without an acceptance of powerlessness, and since prayer remains essential to recovery, it makes sense for Christian men and women to unite together in groups where that prayer is unified and directed at a shared God and with a shared Faith.

Christian 12 steps meetings are meaningful to the faithful

Christian 12 steps recovery groups take what’s effective about the AA program and make it more meaningful by teaching the lessons of the Christian Faith and adding the true lessons of the Bible into the recovery matrix. I remain active in the AA support group I started in all those years ago, but I also enjoy an occasional meeting with fellow Christian addicts in recovery within my Church community.

There is something elemental and profound about joining together and seeking spiritual guidance towards betterment with others who share a similar belief and conviction, and although I’m grateful for the fellowship of my original AA group, I do appreciate joining with fellow Christians for group prayers to Jesus Christ in our communal battle for sobriety. You can find Christian 12 steps groups through most churches and Christian community groups, and Christian rehabs generally use the 12 Christian steps as a part of their recovery programming.

The 12 steps of AA don’t work for everyone, but they do work for many, and AA has saved many millions of lives since its inception. For Christians, combining what’s great about AA with a true expression of your Faith makes it more powerful, more relevant, and I believe better able to offer success and sobriety. I encourage all Christians in recovery to join a Christian 12 steps meeting, and enjoy Christian fellowship and shared recovery through Jesus Christ.

NA versus AA

I did not have as much of a problem with Alcohol as I did with Drugs. I go to AA (alcoholics anonymous) though; I do not go to NA (narcotics anonymous) really. AA seems to have much better sobriety. One of the reasons it is better is because it is considered the root of the twelve step programs. I have not met one person in AA who never abused a pill. Many newcomers, particularly male, choose to go to NA first, because they are considered addicts and not alcoholics. There is also a large group of young people in NA. In NA you can openly talk about drugs while in AA it is a little less accepted. I know many people who hardly drank ever but they choose to combat their addiction by going to AA. If you were a heroin addict all your life and then one day the only drug left in the world is Alcohol, you’re going to be an alcoholic very fast. It is the same void that your trying to fill, it is the same thing, just a different substance that you’re abusing. I want results so I around myself with the best possible chances of getting them. I have nothing against NA and I would go to an NA meeting at anytime, I just prefer AA, even though I was mostly into substance abuse.

I did not have as much of a problem with Alcohol as I did with Drugs. I go to AA (alcoholics anonymous) though; I do not go to NA (narcotics anonymous) really. AA seems to have much better sobriety. One of the reasons it is better is because it is considered the root of the twelve step programs. I have not met one person in AA who never abused a pill. Many newcomers, particularly male, choose to go to NA first, because they are considered addicts and not alcoholics. There is also a large group of young people in NA. In NA you can openly talk about drugs while in AA it is a little less accepted. I know many people who hardly drank ever but they choose to combat their addiction by going to AA. If you were a heroin addict all your life and then one day the only drug left in the world is Alcohol, you’re going to be an alcoholic very fast. It is the same void that your trying to fill, it is the same thing, just a different substance that you’re abusing. I want results so I around myself with the best possible chances of getting them. I have nothing against NA and I would go to an NA meeting at anytime, I just prefer AA, even though I was mostly into substance abuse.

Dealing with Step 8/9 and making amends

truth is that it is impossible to stay sober and move forward without doing these steps thoroughly and honestly. The guilt alone keeps you stuck in the "old way of thinking" and it is impossible to be honest with yourself when you’re in that zone. You make a list of the people you had harmed. You make the amend and you pay people back what you can. The "program" is based around it. If I want what the others have then I have to do what they do. This is what they do. It is as simple as that. The tough part was explaining to people why I am doing it. I just told them the truth, and I got the respect I never thought I would get. Some people actually decline the money and ended up making amends to me!

truth is that it is impossible to stay sober and move forward without doing these steps thoroughly and honestly. The guilt alone keeps you stuck in the "old way of thinking" and it is impossible to be honest with yourself when you’re in that zone. You make a list of the people you had harmed. You make the amend and you pay people back what you can. The "program" is based around it. If I want what the others have then I have to do what they do. This is what they do. It is as simple as that. The tough part was explaining to people why I am doing it. I just told them the truth, and I got the respect I never thought I would get. Some people actually decline the money and ended up making amends to me!

The 3rd Step Prayer

We just finished the first two steps. He explained the simple method of doing the third step.

We both pray, hold hands, and say this prayer right out of the book, the third step prayer.

This seemed very uncomfortable at the time. In reality I would have declined had I not been "ready" to go on the very beneficial journey of staying sober. We read to each other – God I offer myself to thee, to build with me and to do with me as thou wilt, relieve me of the bondage of self so that I may better do thy will, take away my difficulties so that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of thy power, they love and thy way of life.

You know when I first did this, I could not even pay attention to the words – maybe because I was holding the hand of some ex-convict. Maybe because I wasn’t ready. Maybe because I had to live life and make my mistakes before REALLY needing what I was asking for. To be "Relieved of the bondage of self so that I can better do Gods will" has to be the most important thing I have ever asked for.

All I am saying is "Take me away from me and my personal distractions for a minute so I can focus on my higher power because that’s the better route". Every morning when I wake up, I say this prayer.

We just finished the first two steps. He explained the simple method of doing the third step.

We both pray, hold hands, and say this prayer right out of the book, the third step prayer.

This seemed very uncomfortable at the time. In reality I would have declined had I not been "ready" to go on the very beneficial journey of staying sober. We read to each other – God I offer myself to thee, to build with me and to do with me as thou wilt, relieve me of the bondage of self so that I may better do thy will, take away my difficulties so that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of thy power, they love and thy way of life.

You know when I first did this, I could not even pay attention to the words – maybe because I was holding the hand of some ex-convict. Maybe because I wasn’t ready. Maybe because I had to live life and make my mistakes before REALLY needing what I was asking for. To be "Relieved of the bondage of self so that I can better do Gods will" has to be the most important thing I have ever asked for.

All I am saying is "Take me away from me and my personal distractions for a minute so I can focus on my higher power because that’s the better route". Every morning when I wake up, I say this prayer.

Sponsorship in AA

See I felt that I could get everything I need from the meeting. He explained to me that going to a meeting and attending it was only a fraction of the part of staying sober. He said that sobriety is a 24 hour a day deal. He made a key point is telling me that my way of thinking stinks. My best thinking got me to that meeting trying to stay sober. He explained to me that I have to stay in touch with someone who has been doing what I was trying to do – for many years.

He told me that if I did not seek help then I would end up trying to handle everything on my own. To be honest, I felt this man had some other motive. I couldn’t understand why he would spend all this time trying to explain sponsorship to me. I just spent a month in drug rehab and I was going to meetings and I felt like I was doing enough.

I was waiting a few weeks and then I went to a step series. They were talking about the importance of sponsorship and working the steps. They told me after the meeting that I needed a sponsor to help guide me through the steps. I was starting to feel less and less comfortable on a daily basis. Perhaps this man was right that I could not handle life on my own and I needed help. Perhaps I was at the point where I had to either work the steps and take the program of recovery to a new level, or just try something else. While walking to my car I bumped into that man again. He asked me how I felt and I was honest. He told me that all I have to do is call him. He offered to help me work the steps. His name was Jim. This was a decade ago. I am still sober. Jim has since passed away but I have a new sponsor. Since then I have had the honor of working with several guys who were once confused and new to the program as I once was.

See I felt that I could get everything I need from the meeting. He explained to me that going to a meeting and attending it was only a fraction of the part of staying sober. He said that sobriety is a 24 hour a day deal. He made a key point is telling me that my way of thinking stinks. My best thinking got me to that meeting trying to stay sober. He explained to me that I have to stay in touch with someone who has been doing what I was trying to do – for many years.

He told me that if I did not seek help then I would end up trying to handle everything on my own. To be honest, I felt this man had some other motive. I couldn’t understand why he would spend all this time trying to explain sponsorship to me. I just spent a month in drug rehab and I was going to meetings and I felt like I was doing enough.

I was waiting a few weeks and then I went to a step series. They were talking about the importance of sponsorship and working the steps. They told me after the meeting that I needed a sponsor to help guide me through the steps. I was starting to feel less and less comfortable on a daily basis. Perhaps this man was right that I could not handle life on my own and I needed help. Perhaps I was at the point where I had to either work the steps and take the program of recovery to a new level, or just try something else. While walking to my car I bumped into that man again. He asked me how I felt and I was honest. He told me that all I have to do is call him. He offered to help me work the steps. His name was Jim. This was a decade ago. I am still sober. Jim has since passed away but I have a new sponsor. Since then I have had the honor of working with several guys who were once confused and new to the program as I once was.