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Introducing The First Layer – by Freddie van Rensburg

I am so excited to introduce you to The First Layer by Freddie van Rensburg. I ordered my book last week and it arrived in the post this morning.

One of the reasons I am so excited to have received this book is that I was in treatment with Freddie 9 years ago and it is amazing to look back now and see how far we have both come – the hard work and all the healing. Freddy is now a counselor and brings out regular podcasts on his website which you can access here.

Freddie is a gentle and kind person with an amazing sense of humor, and I can see him making an incredible counselor that has wonderful insight into people.

The First Layer is a 12 step work book that will take you through the 12 steps in 21 days, which is a great thing for newbies to recovery and an oldie like me that gets tired of working the same stepwork book!

Read more about The First Layer here.

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Retreat Centers As A Recovery Tool

We all are different, it is what we all have in common.  Therefore, I believe with good guidance from a sponsor, that we each need different tools to achieve a full recovery and a happy life.  I have been sober for a long time, long enough to see people come and go.  Long term stable recovery involves changing who we are on many levels.

Some say meetings and conference approved literature are the only way to go.  Some have very regimented concepts of how the steps and recovery occurs.  If that works, then it works, don’t fix it.  I find that I need other tools to help me with my recovery.

One tool outside of the program that I use are retreat centers.  I have found that getting away from my routine occasionally helps me to better understand myself, and work in a focused manner, or learn something new.

One of my character aspects is routine.  Routine, like most character aspects, can be a positive force in my life.  It can be a negative one as well.  I can show up every day to the same job/meetings etc.  Occasionally I need to recover from this by getting out to a safe place where I can see and experience myself from a different angle.

Remember, if we could recover by ourselves, many of us would.  Our higher power works through others, occasionally I need to cut my higher power a break and get to a new place with different people.  Retreat centers can help me with this.

Retreat Center as a recovery tool

I went to my favorite retreat center for the first time in September 2009 for a Labor Day retreat.  It was a social retreat, no big agenda, just fun and meeting others.  Like going to a family event, I took my own car, I backed in.  I felt as out of place as I can get without bolting out the door.  I did not feel right until I had a massage on the second day.

After that, I could understand that there were two folks there that bothered me.  The rest of these folks were amazing friends I just had not met yet.  By the end of the weekend, I was able to understand why the two folks bothered me.

So, some of my core issues are control and isolation.  I cannot control others, so to feel better, I gravitate away from people.  I also learned in recovery that the people I do not like or do not trust, or flat out hate, will teach me the most about myself.

If I have a strong emotional reaction to someone (good or bad), I try to the best of my ability to stick with it and learn what that is about.  Going to a retreat where the entire goal was to be with new people was terrifying for me.

I can go to almost any 12 step meeting anywhere (been to meetings on several continents, different languages, different cultures, same message).  It is safe, I know pretty much what will happen.  If I am uncomfortable, deep in my heart I know it will be over soon…. and I can go on my way.  I can fake it for an hour or two, no problem.  At a retreat center, it is different.  I am there for a few days.

It is not over in an hour.  I have to live with it and try to understand it.  My favorite retreat center provides me with a safe place to be uncomfortable.  I am usually there long enough to figure out what the issue is, and usually enough time to either confront myself about it, or learn that this is part of who I am.

So, retreat centers can be a recovery tool.  The programming often pushes a limit or two within me, but at the same time provides a safe container of spiritual people for me to be with long enough for me to face who I am and understand what is bothering me.

12 step meetings can be formulaic.  They can have stifling routine.  I can hide in that routine.  My favorite retreat center is free flowing and causes me to run in to issues I did not expect.  It gives me people to work with to help figure it out.  Sometimes it gives me someone to just hold me while whatever energy (fear / loathing / love / warmth / whatever…) flows through me and dissipates or grows in me in that moment.

I have found that retreat centers can provide the connection and space that can help me move to the next level in my recovery.  Retreat centers can do this by providing a different environment from a meeting to allow different issues to surface so you can understand them better, to see them from a different perspective.  At least this has been my experience.

At meetings I am usually juggling one ball.  At a retreat center the environment that the staff and volunteers create forces me to juggle a few balls at once.  So, I have to be in a room with a bunch of people, I am opening myself up (something called intimacy, gosh I need to google that one of these days), I am walking through my fear of rejection, I am sometimes allowing myself to be held.  And then to top it all off, I am doing I for 48 hours straight.

I don’t back in any more, I show up, I grow and I learn.

Note:  At the beginning, I mentioned with “good guidance from a sponsor”.  I want to stress this.  Retreats and retreat centers are a tool that need to be used carefully.  Your sponsor will hopefully help you understand what your motives are.

Retreats are not a substitute for meetings and working with others.  Also, some people become retreat junkies, again, your sponsor with help guide you.  You are looking for growth and moderation.  If you figure out moderation, teach me.

I will be leading a 4th Step weekend January 20-22nd, 2017 at Easton Mountain in New York, all are welcome.  Collectively as a group the leader and participants will walk through this transformative step.

Each will take stock of who they are, what they are.  They can then use this tool to figure out what patterns and character aspects combine to produce the toxic mix that one’s drug/behavior covers up or relieves.  Finding this combination opens the lock and lets you out.

I love leading these weekends, I have the privilege of watching recovery take off.  Yes, the change is uncomfortable, the love is amazing.  I do not back in, but do what you need to do to show up.


Andrew Kerivan has been in continuous recovery for 32 years. The Twelve Steps are the cornerstone of his recovery. Andrew does not subscribe to one method of doing the Twelve Steps. He feels that balanced recovery requires that each step be approached with different methods depending on one’s particular experience.


 

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How do I know I am an alcoholic?

This post is inspired by a discussion that I came across on Quora a few months back where someone asked how he can reduce the amount of alcohol he drinks on a night out

So that would be the first sign that you have a problem right? No normal person that does not have a problem with alcohol or drugs will ever be concerned about how they can control the amount of alcohol he or she drinks, or the amount of drugs he or she uses.

So you want to know the answer to the question: how do I know I am an alcoholic?

How do I know if I am an alcoholic questions

If you regularly drink too much, and you start obsessing about how you can control it then chances are incredibly high that you have a problem.

And it isn’t even about drinking too much really, some alcoholics actually drink very little. It is about being powerless over the alcohol and about your personality changing when you drink. It is about the way you think.

An alcoholic or addict has what is called stinking thinking.

Here’s the difference between an alcoholic and a normal person…

A normal person goes out and has too much to drink. This normal person wakes up in the morning and thinks, oh dear I had too much to drink, I won’t do that again.  Then they don’t do that again and they don’t think about it again. There is no issue.

An alcoholic will drink too much (again) come home and think about how he can control his drinking. The first thing he will do is come up with an excuse for drinking too much last night and here are some examples of things to blame:

  • His girlfriend that had a fight with him (probably because he was drinking too much)
  • His mother that nags him (probably because he drinks too much)
  • His boss that picks on him (probably because he is hung over too often)
  • The rugby game that was won, so he had to celebrate the victory
  • The rugby game that was lost, so he had to drown his sorrows
  • There was no rugby game so he was bored

Ok you get the picture anything is fair game for blame.

Next step is the alcoholic will come up with ideas to not drink so much. These ideas consist of gems like:

  • The orange juice is to blame, so I will switch from Vodka and Orange Juice to Vodka with lemonade
  • Wine goes to my head so I will drink spirits instead
  • Brandy makes me aggressive so I will stick to Vodka
  • Spirits are too strong so I will drink beer
  • I will only drink on weekends
  • I won’t drink on weekends
  • I will start drinking singles instead of doubles (but end up drinking ordering 20 drinks instead of 10)

These excuses and ideas are endless.

How do I know if I am an alcoholic?

Well I’ve covered the basics here, if you are wondering about that then chances are high you are. If you have some of those thoughts that I just mentioned then you’re getting closer to breaking through your denial.

The thing is that coming to realize you are an alcoholic is your own path, not mine. It is not a question someone else can answer for you.

This is your journey and this is your life.

Here are some more questions to ask yourself:

  • How often do you wake up not remembering what you did the night before?
  • How often do you pass out from drinking?
  • Do you ever tell yourself to control your drinking?
  • How often do you tell yourself you will just have one drink, yet drink more?
  • Do you drink first thing in the morning?
  • Have you ever stayed drunk for a few days in a row?
  • Have you ever gone into work drunk?
  • Have you switched brands or types of alcohol in the hopes that you won’t drink so much or get drunk?
  • Have you ever lost a job because of your drinking or had problems at work because of your drinking?
  • Do your loved ones complain about your drinking?
  • Are you often the last one in the bar when your friends have long since left to go home?
  • Do you sometimes become angry when you drink?
  • Do you sometimes get emotional when you drink?
  • Do you have fights with your loved ones when you have been drinking?
  • Have you ever become aggressive and abusive when you drink?
  • How often have you driven drunk?
  • Do you get the shakes when you have not had a drink? Do these shakes disappear when you have a drink?
  • Have you ever done things you are ashamed of while drunk?
  • Is your drinking causing financial problems?
  • Has anyone else in your family had a drinking problem?
  • Do you hide your drinking from the people closest to you?
  • Is your drinking causing relationship problems?
  • Have you tried to stop drinking and not been able to?
  • Have you had memory blackouts while drinking?
  • Do you eat very little or not at all when you are drinking?
  • Do you drink until you vomit? And sometimes still carry on?
  • Have you ever lost control of your bowels or bladder while drinking?

I can ask questions like these until the cows come home, but you get the picture now. My personal belief is that if you are an alcoholic you do actually know it deep down but you just don’t want to face it.

That is what happened to me anyway, there was a part of me that I buried (under loads of drugs and alcohol) that knew I was an alcoholic and a drug addict.

I recently wrote an ebook about my powerlessness over alcohol and drugs, I shared stories from when I was in active addiction. In these stories you can follow what my thought patterns where, the times I suddenly thought I might just have a problem and then how I shut those thoughts away from myself.

I believe each person has their own process to go through, their own moment of realization and I also believe that everything happens for a reason.

So if you are here reading this post there is probably a reason you are here, and I can’t answer your questions for you. Take what you need from this and I hope you find your way, whatever that path may be.

Here’s some food for thought. Until you know and acknowledge there is a problem you cannot begin to fix it. The first step to recovery begins with admitting to yourself that you have a problem.

If you are an alcoholic you can contact Alcoholics Anonymous and you will find an amazing support system and other alcoholics to help you through this.

Are you an alcoholic or an addict? How did you come to realize you had a problem?

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Steps How to Quit Smoking: A Surefire Way To Be Nicotine Free!

I am so pleased to announce that I am 6 months free from smoking and I am so happy to share my steps how to quit smoking. I honestly never ever believed that I would be able to quit smoking.

After 22 years of smoking being a smoker has almost been part of my personality, part of who Lynne is. I think I can safely say (for now anyway) that I am now a non-smoker. Wow, this feels great.

What I find just as exciting is that I can now share with you all how I managed to achieve this and share my steps, hopefully you will join me in the non-smokers club.

Steps how to quit smoking now

10 Steps How To Quit Smoking Now

1 Decide on Your Reasons for Quitting Smoking

For me there were so many obvious reasons like my health, the financial cost of smoking, the fact it stinks… and these are similar for everyone. The deciding reason for me quitting smoking comes down to my children.

About 2 months before I quit smoking my daughter came to me (with a very proud) look on her face and told me she is going to grown big like me, wear my clothes, become a mommy and smoke. I felt so ashamed and so sad that moment. She wanted to be just like me. A smoker. This is what she looked up to. She was 3 years old at this time.

This was the exact moment I realized my smoking days were coming to a close.

3 Weeks later my daughter asked me to play a game with her. I told her yes, no problem, just give me 5 minutes. She then looked at me and said “Oh are you going for a smoke first?”. There was no accusation or unhappiness in her question at all…. but it suddenly hit me that I put smoking above everything in my life. Even my children. What am I saying to my child by my behavior when I have to have a smoke before I do anything with her? It says loud and clear that smoking is more important than her.

This was the exact moment I decided I would be quitting.

So my now 4 year old daughter and my 2 year old son are my reasons for quitting smoking. I want them to have their mommy put them first at all times. And if they do come second at times, I don’t want it to be because of cigarettes!  I don’t want my children to smoke and if they do, let it be because they choose to smoke, not because they are copying their mother.

2 Set A Quit Date

When I decided I was quitting I immediately spoke to my husband who was also a smoker and we agreed to quit and we set the date for 01 October 2015. This was a great feeling.

We had often spoken about the fact we should quit one day. My husband had attempted to quit smoking on a number of occasions and done quite well each time. I had never attempted to quit or even set a date before, or even agreed to quit for sure. It couldn’t have been easy or nice for my husband to quit when I was carrying on smoking.

Make your date for quitting whenever you want. Make sure you are mentally ready. If you don’t want to quit smoking you won’t succeed. Wait until you are really ready for it.

3 Tell People

Share with your friends and family that you are going to quit, tell them the date. The fact that I wrote a post about it on my website and then shared it on social media made it really hard for me to back out of my date to quit smoking!

4 No Nicotine Replacement or Cutting Down Before Hand

Until the day you quit smoke as much as you want, in fact smoke more! How addiction works is that unless you are physically consuming the thing you are addicted to, you are actually in the process of craving it. So to cut down is really just torturing yourself before you quit. Rather smoke, enjoy your cigarettes and mentally prepare yourself for the date you have set to quit.

The same goes with nicotine replacement. What is the point of quitting smoking and then giving yourself a little hit of the thing you are addicted to in another form? You will make it harder for yourself in the long run, I promise you this! So forget the patches, leave the gum and the vapes!

It really is a case of all or nothing here. Smoke or don’t smoke.

5 Read Fuck It The Ultimate Spiritual Way

This will help you so much with your mindset, this was a brilliant read and it not only helped me with quitting smoking, it also helped me change my life in so many other ways that I can’t even begin to describe. If I do try and explain all this book has done for me I will be writing a book in this article that will go off in a completely different tangent. So in the spirit of keeping it simple, read this book!

Here is my full review of Fuck It The Ultimate Spiritual Way.

fuck it the ultimate spiritual guide

Buy It On Kindle Now

6 Read Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Quit Smoking

This book was also brilliant and I need to find the time to write a review on it for you, but for now just trust me when I say you have to read this!

As an addict and an alcoholic that is going to be 8 years clean this year I saw the value in this book in the first few pages. I could see this book was going to be great. This changed the way I looked at smoking. It made me face my unrealistic fears of quitting smoking. It made me see how quitting smoking would make me free.

I highly recommend you read this book. It will give you so much more insight into smoking addiction. This will make your chances of success so much higher. It will also make the whole quitting smoking  process easier on you.

Allen Carr's easy way to quit smoking

 

Buy It On Kindle Now

7 Change Your Mindset

This is a big one and hopefully this will come about when you read Allen Carr’s book. Smoking is a trap, there is no way out unless you quit. You are chained to your cigarettes. Quitting smoking is not a loss for you, it is a gain.

The sooner you come to see this and hold onto this the better. Even though you may understand it logically, when you quit smoking it is not so easy to keep the positive mindset that you are free.

Don’t think “I can’t smoke, I mustn’t smoke”.

Think “I choose not to smoke”.

8 Do Anything BUT Smoke, Be Kind To Yourself

This addiction is strong. I told myself as long as I didn’t smoke (or drink/ take drugs) it was fine. Bring on the coffee, chips, Coke (cola not cocaine), sweets, cake…

And boy did I munch! I am now left with a sugar and caffeine addiction that I will be addressing soon, so watch out for that.

9 One Day/ Minute/ Moment at a Time

Stay in the moment, don’t think about the fact you will (hopefully) never smoke again. This will fill you with terror. Just decide that for the next 5 minutes you won’t smoke.

This is what I did. I told myself have a cup of coffee and if I still want to smoke I can drive to the shop and get some cigarettes. When the coffee was finished I told myself I am going to go for a walk on the beach and if I really want to smoke I can do it after my walk. Keep busy and just get to another point each time.

This truly works wonders.

10 One Puff is all it takes…

One puff of a cigarette and you will be smoking like a chimney again! Please trust me on this because it will happen. If you start thinking you can smoke the odd cigarette or have a puff of one now and then you are mistaken.

I still sometimes want to smoke and the thought of never smoking again (or drinking or taking drugs) fills me with fear and terror. I tell myself every day that I can smoke, I can drink and I can take drugs… but if I do I will be back where I started. I can one day do that, it just won’t be today.

Just for today I will not smoke, drink or use drugs.

I hope you have found these steps how to quit smoking helpful.  I hope this will help you quit smoking and keep you a non-smoker. If you have any questions or just want to chat please leave a comment.

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Step 5 of the 12 Steps

Step 5 of the 12 Steps is very often misunderstood. It is about sharing our Step 4 with our sponsor, but more importantly the honest admission to ourselves, to God and to another person that brings about spiritual growth.

We admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

There is often a lot of fear around the fifth step, we often have very familiar feelings of fear or rejection, fear of judgement. We often don’t know if we can trust out sponsor yet and things brings about fear too.

step 5 of the 12 steps

The first time we work our Step 5 we need to face our fear and trust in our Higher Power, this is where our Step 3 really comes into play. Step 5 helps us to work through our fears, and to pray for courage and willingness.

Despite our fears we move forward and continue with our recovery.

Working the first four steps prepares us to work our Step 5.

“Admitted to God, to ourselves and another Human Being…”

Admitting the nature of our wrongs to God differs from person to person, each of us has a different understanding of our Higher Power and it is very personal. Some invite their Higher Power into their lives, other make a formal admission to God.

Once again in recovery we have to be honest with ourselves, we will find this being a common theme in our recovery. This is vitally important because during our active addiction we were lying to ourselves. We were in denial of our problem and our actions.

It is also very important to admit the nature of our wrongs to another person. We often cannot see what others can and other people can help us to accept responsibility for things, and also to accept what we don’t need to take responsibility for.

This will often be the very first time we are honest with another person. Our relationship with our sponsor is very often the first honest relationship we have, it is how we learn how to have healthy relationships with others.  The therapeutic nature of one addict helping another really comes into play with this step. The person we share our fifth step with will often also share their own personal experiences with us.

What is Meant by “The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs”

It is very important to distinguish between the actual wrongs we have committed and the nature of our wrongs. While we are doing our fifth step we will most likely see a pattern starting to emerge, a repetition of the same type of thing happening over and over in our lives. We often refer to these behaviors as our character defects.

So what has my personal experience of Step 5 been?

My first experience doing Step 5 was very scary. I still truly believed that I was somehow special and different. I thought the things I had done during my active addiction would make my sponsor reject me and make her think even less of me.

For this reason I purposefully did not include a lot of my wrong doings in my Step 4 and 5 the first time. To be honest there were a few complete lies in my first round of steps.

So I shared selectively the first time, but even so I expected a little bit of shock and disgust. What happened was completely unexpected. When I shared the worst things I had done my sponsor laughed and told me something she had done which was almost exactly the same. Everything I had experienced she had too, she didn’t turn her back on me, she didn’t run from the room in horror.

We landed up having a good laugh and I started to forgive myself. The next round of steps I got truly honest and I told her that I had purposefully left out a lot of things that I was too ashamed to talk about. I included these things in the second round of steps. Once again she laughed with me and told me she did exactly the same thing. She told me this is why we do the steps over and over again. It is not about getting it 100% correct the first time, it is progress not perfection.

I have now found the same thing when I have a sponsee and a look forward to it. It is not easy to trust someone immediately, so someone will share a little bit to begin with and as they start to trust me more they will share more and get more honest. As this happens I can see spiritual growth in myself and the other person. The therapeutic nature of this program is that when I have a sponsee I am not just helping my sponsee, I am helping myself at the same time.

This step can bring on great spiritual growth, self-love, acceptance and forgiveness. I highly recommend it!

Have you worked a Step 5 before? What was your experience like? Please leave a comment if you have any questions or anything to share.

Buy the Narcotics Anonymous Stepworking Guide 

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Step 4 of the 12 Steps

Step 4 of the 12 Steps is where we start to really have an honest look at ourselves.

step 4 of the 12 steps moral inventory

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 4 is the start of finding out who we are. It is the beginning of the process of self-love and acceptance of ourselves. Steps 4 through to 9 is a process within the 12 steps that will lead to comfort, happiness and love.

Step 4 of the 12 steps onion layersIf you think of Step 4 like an onion, each time we do Step 4 we remove a layer of the onion. In the core of the onion is the pure and healthy version of us. Each layer we remove represents a layer of denial, our character defects and the harm we have caused.

Our goal in recovery is to have a spiritual awakening. Each time we do Step 4 we get closer to achieving this goal.

We need to learn about ourselves, discover ourselves again. The fourth step is not just about learning about our defects of character it is also about finding out what our assets are.

During this step we learn that our problems most likely started long before we started using drugs or alcohol. We will probably find that we felt isolated and different long before we started using any drugs. The desire to change how we feel led us to take our first drink or drug. The seeds of addiction were planted long before we touched any addictive substance.

This inventory will bring to the surface old conflicts and unresolved pain from our past.

The Narcotics Anonymous Stepwork Guide has two distinct sections for Step 4. The first takes you through the motivation for working the step and the second part guides you on taking your moral inventory.

For me personally Step 4 was very emotional the first time I did it. I have also found that every sponsee I have worked with has found Step 4 hard too.

Just the words moral inventory scared me. During my active addiction I did terrible things, to myself and others. My moral compass was broken and it was hard to be honest and face those things. I struggled to deal with my feelings of guilt and shame. I felt a lot of anger when writing down my resentments, all the old pain, hurt and anger came bubbling up to the surface. These are all the feelings I used drugs and alcohol to numb so I didn’t have to face them.

Step 4 of the 12 Steps AbuseDuring Step 4 I had to face these fears and look at my relationships, sexual behaviour, abuse I went through and share my dark secrets. It was the hardest step to face.

That is the scary bit about Step 4. The beautiful part about completing this step was that afterwards I felt light, like a load had been lifted from  me. There was a spiritual change in me. I had shared some of the darkest and most humiliating moments of my life, about my character with my sponsor. She didn’t look at me like I was some sort of monster, she accepted what I told her without judgement and shared some of the things she did in her active addiction. I started to feel like I was not alone anymore, somebody understood me and had done similar things.

She also helped me with my assets. I had no problem writing pages and pages of things that were wrong with me, but I could not seem to write any assets I had. I could not see anything good about myself. She saw things in me that I couldn’t see and she helped me to see myself as I truly am.

This was truly a difficult step for me but the gifts that followed far outweighed the pain of facing this step.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or feedback!

Buy the Narcotics Anonymous Stepworking Guide 

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Step 3 of the 12 Steps

Step 3 of the 12 Steps is all about Surrendering to your Higher Power.

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him

During active addiction we were incapable of making healthy decisions for ourselves. Either we couldn’t make decisions and everything we did was just ruled by our need to use or if we did make any decisions we made bad choices.

step 3 of the 12 steps gods willStep 3 is a process and does not mean that we suddenly start living our lives in a completely different way. Each day we make the decision to hand our will and our lives over to the care of our Higher Power. This is a very important point to highlight. We are allowing someone or something else to care for us. This does not mean that we simply let someone or something else control us and make all of our decisions for us. Nor do we become mindless robots that just follow directions.

We are allowing someone or something else to care for us. We are choosing to believe that our Higher Power will be able to make better decisions for us. We pray for the knowledge of God’s will instead of running rampant on our own self will.

Until this time we have probably been making all our decisions based entirely on our own self will. As we look back on our lives we will realise that running on self will is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. We cannot do this on our own and we are incapable of making healthy decisions on our own.

Spiritual Principles of Step 3:

  • Surrender: we need to do this on a constant basis, when things are going well and when things are going badly
  • Willingness: we usually feel most willing after we have surrendered
  • Hope, Faith & Trust: there is a progression from Hope to Faith to Trust in the third step

step 3 of the 12 steps serenity

This step is very important to me personally. Although I have been in recovery for a number of years I constantly find myself in battle with my self will. I will be happily living my life and suddenly start encountering difficulties. When I go back to basics and start looking at what is going on in my life I find that I have been taking back my self will instead of trying to implement God’s will in my life. I then once again surrender myself to the program and to God’s will and find suddenly all the little bumps along the road start smoothing out. Life becomes easier again.

I won’t lie, there are plenty of times that there is a battle within me and I struggle to let go of my self will. It is when I finally let go and let God that peace and serenity once again settles over me.

The serenity prayer that we say at every meeting is beautiful and helps me find my path when I am struggling and don’t know which way to turn:

God, Grant me the Serenity to Accept the Things I cannot Change,

The Courage to Change the Things I Can,

And The Wisdom to Know the Difference.

This prayer always helps me to find the strength to surrender to my Higher Power and to understand what is God’s will and what is my self will.

step 3 of the 12 steps two wolvesI heard a little story a while back that really hits home for me. An old Cherokee tells his grandson that there are two wolves constantly fighting inside us. One is Good and the other is Evil. The boy asks he grandfather which wolf wins and his grandfather answers: The one that you feed the most.

If I don’t continuously check myself and ask whether I am running on self will or God’s will then my addiction will run riot and I will relapse. This is the reason that once the 12 steps has been completed I simply start them over again. I will be doing this for the rest of my life, it keeps me healthy and it keeps me clean.

I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment!

 

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Step 2 of the 12 Steps

Step 2 of the 12 Steps is about hope, there is an answer and this answer is a Power Greater than Ourselves.

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 2 of the 12 StepsThis was an especially hard step for me. When I came into recovery I had a spiritual hole in me and I am not in the slightest religious. Being told that a Higher Power can relieve me of the need to use and to help me in my recovery was a massive challenge for me.

I was also very angry that I am an addict and felt that the world was very unfair. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? How can I live my life being an addict that can never use again?

These challenges are not unique to me, there are lots of addicts that are not religious. Or perhaps they were and are now angry with God for allowing them to be addicts.

What is Step 2 About?

Step 2 simply teaches us that there is a Higher Power that can restore us to sanity if we work the steps and follow the 12 Step Program. Our insanity is that we kept doing the same things expecting different results.

We learn what is meant by a Higher Power. 12 Step programs are spiritual, not religious. Your Higher Power is personal to you and this step will help you to connect with your Higher Power. This step is not so much focused on what your Higher Power is for you, but more on what your Higher Power can do for you.

During our addiction we had no hope. We did the same destructive things over and over again, the results were the same. When we start coming to 12 Step meetings we see other addicts that are clean and living a full life in recovery. We hear these addicts share about their addiction and where it took them, how they worked the program and got clean. We learn that we too can achieve this.

Even though we feel pain when we are stripped of our denial, this feeling is replaced with hope for the future.

Step 2 of the 12 Steps HopeStep 2 also teaches us about our insanity. During our active addiction we believed we could control our using even though it was very clear we couldn’t. We look at how we made bad decisions and how our lives were out of balance.

Most of us have barriers, preventing us from believing in a Higher Power. These barriers are addressed during this step. We look at what is holding us back and what we do believe in. Often we have a clearer idea of what a Higher Power is not, than what a Higher Power is.

The next focus point in this step is restoration to sanity. Through being clean for a short period of time and starting to work the program we are able to make better decisions. We have a better perspective and are able to see that we do have a decision about the choices me make and the way we act. As we grow in recovery our understanding of sanity changes. It is important to realise that just because we have stopped using does not mean all our old destructive ways are miraculously gone. Restoration to sanity is a process and will take some time.

Spiritual Principles of Step 2

  • Open-mindedness: we open our minds to the fact that we cannot do this alone, that we need help.
  • Willingness: to go to meetings, to work with our sponsor, to listen to other addicts’ stories, to do things we might previously have been unwilling to do.
  • Faith: we have to act as if we have faith. We don’t have to be dishonest but faith is not something that appears overnight.
  • Trust: we need to trust in the program and that the pain we will feel during this time we can get through.
  • Humility: we stop relying on our own thinking and begin to ask for help.

When I started Step 2 I struggled with it and was full of self will, which is the opposite of God’s will. I was told by my sponsor that if I can’t believe in God I must find something to believe and trust in. She suggested I use the 12 Step meetings and members as my Higher Power to start with. This was a big step for me and it worked wonders in my life.

Please leave a comment if you are needing help with Step 2 or if you have anything you would like to add.

Buy the Narcotics Anonymous Stepworking Guide 

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Step 1 of the 12 Steps

Step 1 of the 12 Steps is about breaking through your denial and facing the consequences of your addictions.

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable

Step 1 of the 12 StepsThe first step in your recovery involves going to 12 step meetings, finding a sponsor and working through the 12 steps with your sponsor. A sponsor is someone in the program that has more clean time than you and has already worked through the 12 steps with their sponsor.

It is important abstain to start the working the 12 steps.

In Alcoholics Anonymous members work the from the AA Big Book and in Narcotics Anonymous members work the steps from the NA Stepwork Guide.

 What is Step 1 About?

Step 1 teaches you about the disease of addiction. It teaches you that you cannot be cured but you can manage your addiction by working your recovery program.

Step 1 starts you on your journey to break through the denial of your problem. You do this by looking at the consequences of your addiction, assessing the damages you have done. Every addict has caused damage in almost every aspect of his/ her life. We have lost jobs, been evicted from our homes and damaged our relationships. A lot of us have been arrested for things such as drunken driving, possession of narcotics or theft.

Step 1 of the 12 steps

Most of us come into the program because of a particular event or series of events, very often this is what we call our Rock Bottom. While working Step 1 you will look at what brought you to this point.

Until we came into the program we most likely believed we could deal with our problem on our own, that we could control our problem. Step 1 addresses our powerlessness over our addiction. It takes us through the ways we tried (and failed) to do things our way. If we continue to try and do things our way on our own, the result will just be the same. We will continue to use and continue to cause damage to ourselves and others.

step 1 of the 12 steps changeWe go back through our life and look at the way our addiction affected every aspect in our lives, how our lives had become completely unmanageable.

On a personal note I can say that my addiction reached and contaminated every part of my life. I couldn’t have a healthy relationship with anyone. This was partly due to my actual behaviour in the relationship, the way I treated others. But another aspect is that no healthy man would ever have considered me a viable partner, the only men interested in me were as sick as I was. The applied to friendships. The only people that would have anything to do with me were addicts, alcoholics and mentally unhealthy people.

Every addict fears not being able to use every again. This fear holds us back and prevents us from seeking recovery.Perhaps we are too ashamed to admit to our problem, too scared what others will think of us if they know we are an addict? I can guarantee you that going for help doesn’t mean that they will find out then that you have a problem. I am sure everyone knows, usually the addict/ alcoholic is the last one to realise!  We go through all our reservations and concerns about getting clean and being in recovery.

Step 1 also helps us Surrender. There is a difference between resignation and surrender. Resignation is what we feel when we realise we are addicts but we haven’t accepted recovery as the answer to our problem. Surrender is when we accept the First Step is true for us and accept that recovery is the solution to our problem. We want to recover and we want to live a different life.

Each Step in the 12 Steps focuses on spiritual principles.

Spiritual Principles of Step 1

  • Honesty: we admit to ourselves we are an addict. We continue to be honest on a daily basis.
  • Open-mindedness: being ready to believe there may be another way to live and being willing to try it out.
  • Willingness: being willing to go to meetings, to follow our sponsor’s suggestions and to give recovery our best shot
  • Humility: acceptance of who we truly are. Not believing ourselves to be less or more than we actually are.
  • Acceptance: when we accept our addiction there is an profound inner change. We start to feel a sense of peace and a sense of hope. Through acceptance recovery can become a precious gift.

My Personal Experience of Step 1

The truth about any addict’s rock bottom is that unless you are dead you can always dig deeper. This was true for me. Every time I thought I was at my lowest point I could be I still managed to carry on and make more of a mess of my life.

I bumped into someone I knew from school (yes 15 years after leaving school) and she asked how I was doing. I told her I had just come out of rehab and her response was “Thank God, it’s about time!”. Yes, everyone knows long before you do! It took me 15 years to come to my realization.

I couldn’t get clean until I was ready to, to get to this point I had to rack up a lot of consequences and damages first. I had to get to a place where I couldn’t sit with my blinkers on anymore and pretend (to myself and to others) that I didn’t have a problem. It is when I had nowhere to wiggle to, now way to get out of things, that I came to a place where I was ready to admit my problem.

This was a scary place for me, but it is also the place where I started to move forward for the what felt like the first time in my life and not backwards.

If you have any questions about Step 1 or have anything you would like to add please leave a comment.

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12 Step Program

The Addiction 12 Step Program

The addiction 12 step program is where I find my recovery and I will be sharing a lot on the 12 Step Program.

Addiction 12 Step ProgramAlcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous follow the 12 Step Program. There are also various other 12 Step support groups such as Eating Disorders Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous to help with various types of addictions.

I will be trying my best to cover information on all types of addictions, even the ones that I don’t know much about. From my understanding addiction is basically the same whether your addiction is to alcohol, drugs, food or sex.

Addiction simply put is using something external to try and change the way you feel. It can be work, exercise, relationships, gambling, Facebook or sex.

Non-addicts also do this, in a normal sort of way. Such as eating a chocolate when feeling sad or having a glass of wine to relax. That does not make a person an addict. Addicts take things to extremes and when we use our behaviour changes and very often damages occur in our lives from this behaviour.

If you are an addict I really suggest that you find a 12 Step Meeting near you as soon as possible and if you are looking at going to rehab try and find one that works the 12 step program. Remember that going to rehab can help you get started on the road to recovery, but it is the 12 step program that will keep you clean once you leave. It is also an amazing place to find support and friends once you leave treatment.

 

Here are the 12 steps and if you want to see more detailed information on each step please check the drop down menu from the top navigation menu.

12 step recovery program

 

If you have any questions or feedback about the 12 steps or anything about recovery please leave a comment.

Lynne

 

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