Ask an Addict is a column penned by 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymity is guaranteed.
What are the 12 steps referenced in the 12-step programs in which addicts enrol?
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol.
Alcohol is mentioned in only one of the 12 steps. It is not mentioned after this.
My problem is a spiritual one and I didn’t get that at first.
I thought my problem was you, me, my work, others and my issues. This is why I drank and took drugs.
You were to blame.
Then alcohol and drugs became my problem. These chemicals, once they entered my system, were my issue.
They changed who I was.
Step 2: Life was unmanageable.
Step 3: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
I make a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understood Him.
I would add Her as Mother Earth is my higher power.
She guides me in grace and her gravity is fierce as it keeps me from flying high into the skies.
When turned upside down, she empties booze from my glass and licks it clean from all chemicals.
It’s easy — I can’t drink, I need help and it has to be something stronger than me.
It has to be a god of my understanding, one of good, orderly direction given my life was a mess.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory.
I am not evil, only unwell. I do bad things when I drink or take drugs.
Nothing is beyond me once chemicals enter my system.
Like fire, alcohol burns. I examine who I become when I drink, who I am angry with and who has wronged me in life.
I examine the darkest, deepest parts of me and my soul.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Our wrongs are the key words here, not the wrongs of others.
Blaming others is my addiction on fire. I point the finger while three point back at me.
Step 6: Becoming ready to have my defects removed.
Step 7: Ask to have our shortcomings removed.
Step 8: I make a list of at least 19 people who have hurt or wronged me in some way and ask where I was wrong, what I did.
I examine my actions when under the influence of external, now internal, chemicals.
Step 9: I make direct amends except when to do so would injure them or others.
I don’t want to hurt others as I have already done so in my past.
If I had an affair, I don’t want to hurt the other person so I keep that between my sponsor, God and myself.
Step 10: On a daily basis, I continue to look at my behaviour and conduct.
Where was I wrong? Do I owe anyone an apology? Can I do any better?
Often I am happy to find out I am wrong. I share this with you and tell you how my conduct was off.
It is powerful to take responsibility. I, not alcohol, am now in control.
Step 11 (most important): I pray and meditate to improve my conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His/Her will for us and the power to carry that out.
Prayer and meditation are difficult.
I distract myself through work, driving, shopping, buying, eating or running.
Step 12: I have a spiritual awakening and carry this message to others.
I practise these principles in all my affairs: love, tolerance, patience and understanding.
Helping others is the only way I get out of my drinking hell.
My own thinking is out to kill and destroy me.
I help others by sharing my experience, strength and hope. I give freely back that which was so freely given to me.
Like dragonfly wings, the 12 steps are strong and fierce in their opposition to me. I fly free when I know who I am.
I wish you all had this beautiful program.
It is a recipe for life, which tells me what to do when I am wrong and confused.
I live a full life when following these simple steps.
There is nothing more complicated than me. I like only trouble, so I go to the source, a loving kind god, one of my own understanding.
He/She finds me peace, calm and is the source of my loving kind soul.