Ask an Addict is a column penned by Helena Paivenen, a Kamloops scholar with expertise in addiction issues and someone who is also an addict. The column is meant to inform and help, which is particularly important as we remain mired in an opioid crisis that continues to claim thousands of lives each year. If you have a question you would like answered, email it to email@example.com. Anonymity is guaranteed.
Step One of the program contends “we are powerless over (substance/behaviour) — our lives have become unmanageable.”
No one likes to be powerless. After all, our entire society is based upon power, riches and fame. Many chase money, which really is merely a piece of paper.
The tulip wars involved rich men buying tulips at exorbitant prices until cloning of the flower was discovered.
What could be more valuable than beauty? But once everyone can have beauty, it becomes worthless to those with multiple riches.
If you doubt your powerlessness, think of COVID-19. We are all powerless over some aspect of life, including death, but many pretend they are omnipotent.
Humility is required for the admission of powerlessness, an attribute some do not possess in a world that tends to value other assets.
Step one claims our lives have become unmanageable — the pronoun “our” is used as we cannot fight addiction alone.
It is a “we” program, not a “me” program, although if it is up to be, it is up to me. Recovery in the 12 steps contains many paradoxes, such as when we admit powerlessness and surrender, we find a new power greater than ourself.
Insanity is what we become when drinking, drugging or behaving the same way again and again while expecting different results.
How many with addiction vow “This time it will be different,” but it is like repeatedly hitting your finger with a hammer and expecting it will not hurt on the next impact. After all, society says practise makes perfect when sometimes that does not happen.
So we practise over and over again, thinking this time we will get it right. We tell ourselves lies and continue the destructive behaviour until one day we either die, go to jail, become institutionalized or finally quit.
Everyone can use the 12 steps as they are merely a recipe for good living. Imagine the harmony, beauty and peace the world could have if all children were taught how to implement the 12 steps.
After all, what is bad about examining our behaviour on a daily basis and promptly admitting our wrongs and making amends, not by continually apologizing, but by changing destructive, harmful behaviour one day at a time?
An explanation of step two is scheduled for next week. I hope to stay on track this time as, in addiction, I tend to go off on tangents.
Even if you do not have addiction, you will benefit from working these steps. If you have children, I strongly encourage you to consider implementing them in child raising.
The 12 steps will not fail you if they are worked on every day, one day at a time.