If you seek a full recovery from addiction A.A. Works for some people, therapy works for others, and spirituality works for yet others. Combine all three and you have a chance.
Be sure to choose a therapist who knows how to show empathy not one who just sits there like a bump on a log writing words you can’t see. I say this because addicts suffer from low self-worth and we already feel like we are being judged. An addict will rarely open up fully to a person unless he feels he will not be judged. When it comes to therapy for addicts it’s best to have a therapist who has recovered from addiction himself. And if you can’t find a recovered addiction therapist then group therapy could work because of the feedback and relating.
AA sponsors are there to take you through the 12 steps not to delve into your emotional healing. The statistics of suicide among recovering addicts is high. I am basing this on the fact that I know several who have killed themselves while in A.A. I accredit the suicide rate to the fact that so many recovering addicts don’t get the right therapy. And they don’t address their true core issues. The things that we are ashamed of are the things that haunt us. Past issues live inside us and take on a life of their own. Past issues make us sick, angry, and trying to fend the pain off causes character defects.
I recommend a Spirit-filled church (holy roller type). Dry and Spirit-less churches whose members really believe in the gifts of the Spirit don’t have allot of spiritual power. Make certain that your church at least believes in the power of the blood of Jesus and the laying on of hands for healing and deliverance. Truly every spiritual experience I have had of high magnitude has been in or around a church where people praise God openly. Miracles can happen anywhere but it’s more likely to find a miracle at a tent revival than in the bathroom at home.
There are many non-addicts in church who will not relate to what your feeling when going through a struggle with addiction. Non-addicts are not privy to the practical solutions that you will learn at A.A. By the same token many A.A. people don’t know what a complete deliverance from addiction by a spiritual experience is either. And really isn’t that what actually took place in Bill Wilson’s life the co-founder and author of The Big Book and most of it’s literature? That spiritual white light experience of his is what prompted the idea for the 12 steps. So really why not seek both a miracle and sobriety from working the steps? Why not use both solutions?
The 12 steps are not therapy they address our shortcomings and the need for confession and repentance. (step 4 & 5) You won’t hear it worded repentance and confession in AA confession is called a fifth step.
Every addicted women I have met WAS SEXUALLY MOLESTED at some point in their child hood and most were repeatedly molested. Unfortunately the 12 steps don’t and step-work don’t provide a way for true “victims” to acquire a healing. If we hold a grudge toward our assailant then the steps do give place to addressing our resentments. But simply jotting down the event in a one sentence format and then searching for our own guilt in the experience and what we did wrong WILL NOT HELP US HEAL FROM ABUSE.
Maybe that’s where Bill Wilson just missed the boat on his own emotional healing. There should have been a step that addresses the pain of the true victims of abuse. “Victims” are real and not some made up psychological crutch or bad habit. Yes we need to get past being a victim and the idea can be used as a way to control people. “Oh poor me give me attention that sort of thing. In AA they call abuse an “outside issue”. It’s understandable they are not equipped to handle deep emotional trauma issues. But in my opinion those issues are why people become addicts. So the 12 steps alone will only be enough if God touches you and heals you.
That’s it bottom line without God the steps won’t work and without giving rebellious addicts a way to seek God that is acceptable to them they will not recover that’s why the church shouldn’t judge AA and AA shouldn’t judge the church but they do and often.
The steps and Big Book do not tell us how to get an emotional healing from abuse. And even if you don’t remember being abused, or emotionally neglected it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Many addicts don’t know what emotional neglect looks or feels like. They will say they had a fine childhood, “my parents did the best they knew how”. And they did , except; why then are we alcoholic? Emotionally balanced people don’t seek to numb themselves out on a regular basis to the point of self-destruction. Emotional abuse by a parent can be just as devastating as sexual abuse or violent beatings. Most addicts subconsciously grow up thinking they are bad and wrong. Therapy will help us figure out why. I think if Bill Wilson would have had a better therapist he could have felt free enough to let out some of the feelings that were causing him so much depression.
Bill W.’s depression is well documented. Instead of looking at “our part” on our fourth step concerning childhood abuse (which by the way, could only be that we held a natural resentment toward our assailant for years and that we are full of false guilt over the event. We do not grow out of trauma, it will live inside us until we give it a healthy door out. What we actually need to do is find a way to go back to the events that traumatized us and express the way we feel about it from our hearts core. Crying, weeping, screaming, moaning, and guttural sounds will do the trick. But also talking it out with a caring listener who can relate to the pain it caused us. This can heal us. In AA they will shut you down quick over expressing past trauma and insist that you forgive or just “get over it!” before you are even able to express your pain. We usually are unable to forgive until the emotions are properly expressed. If you get hit in the face you scream ouch then cry! Then you can work on forgiving after the OUCH and tears are out.
JAILS AND INSTITUTIONS
What about rehabilitation centers?
Getting thrown in jail and rehab can be a good thing initially to get sober. Sometimes we have got to be locked up for the first 90 days or so because otherwise we will not be able to get through the physical withdrawal. Plus rehab centers teach many things about sobriety. Having a detox center to help with the withdraw is good. My theory is get all the help you can! If your dead from a drug overdose having a house and job won’t do you any good anyway right?
HOW TO REALLY GET SOBER?
THERE IS NO PERFECT SPONSOR, NO PERFECT REHAB CENTER NO PERFECT DETOX NO PERFECT COUNSELOR, NO PERFECT PROGRAM AND NO PERFECT CHURCH , PREACHER OR THERAPIST. However, all these imperfect things combined can lead to your imperfect recovery.
A FULL RECOVERY
Yes you can recover. AA works. “THESE SICK PEOPLE ARE KEEPING ME WELL” how ironic. Those sick people , and they are will teach you how to get and stay sober but you won’t find many that believe in employing all three spirituality, therapy, and the 12 steps. But that’s what worked for me. After several years of all three you won’t need meetings anymore, why would you? Meetings are not the program the 12 steps are the program. Fellowship though, is a must in the beginning to establish sober relationships with people. Also it’s suggested we go to 90 meetings in 90 days if at all possible to jump start recovery. You won’t hear in AA that you will fully recover and no longer need meetings even if it is written in the big book. Look it up , the word “recovered” is all over the Big Book.
The following are some quotes from the Big Book about being “recovered”.
“I will always be recovering, never recovered.” This statement is not aligned with the teachings of the Big Book we do recover!
Title Page: “ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism” (I totally agree with him on this one we absolutely do recover, at least I have.)
Page 20, paragraph 2: “Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. (here, here!)
Foreword to the First Edition: “We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”
Page 29, paragraph 2: “Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered.”
Page 132, paragraph 3: “We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
WHAT PEOPLE HATE AND LIKE ABOUT A.A.
These two links are anti-12 step websites. It appears that the sites were created by disgruntled ex-A.A. and N.A. members. The Orange Papers site has allot of statistics true and balanced. The “leaving AA” site is more just a bitch session by people who either have been hurt by people in A.A or they are trying hard to rationalize their own inability to stay sober, you be the judge. Lord knows I know how guilt can wear on a person struggling to stay sober. If their blaming keeps them feeling sane without really hurting anyone it’s ok I reckon, let them bitch and criticize as one. They have a common bond at least.
I like to give a fair and balanced opinion about anything. Leave it to alcoholics and addicts to have to label things either all bad or all good. Addicts are notorious for wanting to put the “bad and wrong” label on anything they can. (myself included at times) However lets face it there are not many things in this world that are all bad or all good, in fact it is a rarity. Even a good thing can be overdone until it becomes bad. But when it comes to inanimate objects they are not usually bad on their own. It’s the people that are wrong for using an object like a gun or knife for evil purposes.
From what I have read some people end up with oppressive and controlling sponsors in A.A. I don’t doubt that a bit. I have been a member of A.A. for ten years…this time. I have met the sick and controlling people. I have seen the closed-mindedness, the liars and the sick perverted sex offenders by the droves. As a matter of fact I think child molesters and alcoholism go hand in hand.
What these sites comments say about A.A. is probably true on the most part. But what they are not saying is that they need to label A.A. bad because to them there is no such thing as something being both good and bad. IT MUST BE ONE OR THE OTHER THEY SCREAM!
So does A.A. really work? Well it appears that only 5% of newcomers will pick up a 1 year medallion and only 1.17% will pick up a 10 year medallion and 0.15% will pick up a 20 year medallion. Now that doesn’t mean that there are not allot of people that stay sober due to A.A. yet leave A.A. for one reason or another. I know some people who have learned the 12 steps and how to live them. They have people in their lives that they confide in and they are close to God… they don’t NEED the meetings when they have the program. Maybe others no longer need to sit in A.A. meetings absorbing the sick vibes of all those emotionally handicapped people who frankly don’t open up enough in meetings to get better. And with good reason. They would no doubt get shut down and criticized if they actually shared their hurts, fears, and worries the way that they should be encouraged to.
If they could vent they would heal. If people would get real in the rooms and tell the sick and suffering addict that they understand and have felt that way too then the program would be much more effective. But instead people sit like vultures in meetings waiting for someone to criticize. Members use the A.A. cliche’s as if they were weapons to stab the unknowledgable newcomers with. Newcomers suffer while members make it a fault-finding meeting rather than looking for the similarities and relating.
I have often wondered why is it some people want to make people feel better and other people want to make people feel inferior. If I were hurt by an A,A cliche’ that a member wielded at me as a newcomer, would I then wield that same cliche’ later? Wouldn’t I access that the statement was hurtful therefore I would find another way to express a similar thought? However I do see people using the same tools that hurt them to hurt other people. It’s not surprising that many people just get tired of A.A.
Granted A.A is the perfect platform for a minister or counselor to catapult his career. Some groups will allow any member with 30 days sobriety to take meetings into jails and institutions. These people could have audience to hundreds of people in no time while they share their story and their own interpretation of what the 12 steps really are and how to work them. Right or wrong if they are offering hope to the hopeless it good. Service work is a wonderful thing if it’s done with kindness. It does not take brash, and mean cliche’s to share the program of A.A.
Why are so many members so defensive when it comes to their 12 step program? That’s simple in the addict mind things are either good or bad so if someone points out one wrong thing with their A.A then that means that the entire program is bad, which in turn in the perception of the insecure addict makes themselves bad as well because they are a member. An insecure man with low self-worth is defensive because he feels he needs to be to make himself look better…and if his program looks bad he looks bad.
Feeling we need to defend A.A. is akin to thinking we have to defend God Himself who clearly doesn’t need us for It’s defense, It is the almighty It needs no defending because no one can bring it down. Both God and A.A. I think the only one that could truly bring down the 12 steps and their programs would be He who established it to begin with (and I don’t mean Bill W. I mean God Itself, Himself, Herself. (Choose your own descriptive word.)