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Ask An Addict: Rolling into Step 7 of the 12-step program

Step 7 reads that we “humbly ask God to remove our defects of character.”

Ask an Addict is a column penned by Helena Paivinen, a Kamloops scholar with expertise in addiction issues and someone who is also an addict. The column is meant to inform and help. If you have a question you would like answered, email it to Anonymity is guaranteed.

It’s been hard to write about recovery when I read so much hatred on line.

I have been sidetracked by this and hope to do better. However, the program is what keeps me sane and stops me from going back, so I need to focus on exactly just that.

Step 7 reads that we “humbly ask God to remove our defects of character.”

Humility is key; it is the underlying principle of this step. Our literature contends that alcoholics/addicts are egomaniacs with an inferiority complex.

Until recovery, I believed I was lower than you. I was incredibly anxious and completely insecure. To hide this fact, I created a false front.

I pretended to be confident and totally self-assured, while internally I ached. That first drink (then the first drug) removed my insecurities and blanked out all fears. I finally felt calm and for the first time ever in life, I felt self-assured (grandiose in the end).

To enhance this substance relief, I imbibed much more, always chasing that initial, but now never to be found again, elusive first high.

I said and did horrible things when drunk and/or high, so in an attempt to feel better, I then used some more.

This is the insanity of addiction — using something to make myself feel good when, in reality, it only made me feel worse. 

I’d feel bad about what I said/did when drunk/high so I’d drink/drug some more, thinking I’d feel better.

But this only made me feel worse, so I’d drink once again, thinking I’d feel better — and on it goes.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. A program of recovery is vital to stop this insane cycle.

Only one of the 12 steps mentions alcohol or drugs (the first one). 

People mistakenly believe the 12 steps are about stopping alcohol/drugs, when in reality, they are a recipe for living a spirit-filled life (not alcohol spirit; for years I chased the wrong high).

Humility in recovery is about being right-sized.   Right-sized means having a balanced view and an honest perspective and appraisal about self.

I acknowledge I have both shortcomings and strengths. I no longer try to deny or minimize my defects, nor do I try to falsely bolster and enhance my shaky esteem.

Lately, my character defect of impulsivity has been full blown and on public display.

I became a keyboard warrior. On social media pages, my fingers leapt into action, I began battling with others, using my words. Afterwards, I felt slightly embarrassed and hugely belittled.

I considered going back to delete all that I had written, but decided in the end to leave it as is.

In the 12 steps, I acknowledge my defects of being impulsive and reactive. I do not deny or try to hide them by hitting delete.

Next time and, hopefully, one day and then forevermore, I will do better — one day at a time.

As they say in the rooms:  “Progress not perfection.”

Lord only knows I am not perfect, but I always try.

All Ask An Addict columns can be read online at by searching “Ask An Addict.”