From an early age many of us discovered that this thing called life was painful. We endured many situations which we found to be very uncomfortable and challenging. Our inner world was often in turmoil. Then one day, we had our first drink, our first joint or our first drug of choice. Something magical happened. All of that pain and discomfort faded into the background. We thought to ourselves that we had discovered the elixir to a happy life. Sooner or later however, that elixir turned into a poison. Whenever we indulged in our drink or drug, the quality of our life deteriorated. Our health, careers and relationships began to suffer because of our addictive choices. Yet we seemed powerless over our ability to stop using.
When we joined AA or NA or OA we began to realize that our drug of choice was a false prophet. It would never deliver what we thought it had promised. In fact just the opposite was the case. Invariably we were worse off after using. We finally admitted that we could not drink or drug safely. This sentiment was summed by a member of AA who said, “I have an allergy to alcohol. Every time I drank, I broke out…….in handcuffs”.
Personal Reflection: What tools have I developed to cope with life’s adversities?
As time passed in sobriety, some of us began to romanticize about our old haunts. Regardless of the program we belonged to, returning to those places could definitely lead us towards a slip. This held true for whatever program we belonged to. For those of us in Alcoholics Anonymous hanging out in a bar would be a mistake. Similarly going to the track for a member in Gamblers Anonymous would be looking for trouble. For a member in Overeaters Anonymous going to a restaurant with an all you can eat smorgasbord would be a poor decision. Any place that might compromise our sobriety should be viewed as highly suspect. We need to let the “G-d of our gut” help us sort out appropriate places for us to go.
We believe that there are also “right” places for us to be. Any place which helps us to grow emotionally or intellectually is certainly appropriate. When a place helps us to deepen our connection to our Higher Power, chances are it’s a good choice. When we have the opportunity to do service, that’s a space worth occupying. When in doubt call your sponsor, though you probably know the answer already.
Personal Reflection: Have I visited any wrong places recently?
A young fellow had just attended his first AA meeting. He approached someone from the group who had spoken during the meeting. He said to him, “do you think this AA will work for me”? The group member responded with the following oft used statement:AA will work for people who believe in G-d.
AA will work for people who don’t believe in G-d.
AA will not work for people who believe they are G-d.
For those who believed in a Higher Power, 12 step program was a natural path. Left to our own devices, we had been unable to stop using our drug of choice. It was only when we admitted our powerlessness over alcohol and drugs that we could accept that a “power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”.
For those who didn’t believe in a Higher Power, we have found the program to be very helpful as well. By taking a fearless moral inventory of ourselves, we gained the ability to stay sober a day at a time. Some of us even found G-d along the way.
Unfortunately, program could not help those who maintained that they were G-d. Until a person could get humble and admit their shortcomings and make amends to others, they were missing the core of the program.
Personal Reflection: How has the program helped me today?