The 12-Steps model is one of the more common roads for one to take in the journey to recover from a substance use disorder. For more than 80 years, individuals caught in the maelstrom of addiction have turned to the rooms of 12-Step recovery, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. What started as two people sharing their story with one another, overtime morphed into a program where millions of people with the disease of addiction work together to live a spiritual life free from drugs and alcohol.
We all have different stories. All of us came to the rooms of recovery by a different road. But, at the end of the day, our stories are remarkably similar. With an open mind, one can easily see that no one living with the disease of addiction (active or not) is all that unique. As much as we all imagine that we are unique, that is our addiction or our path to it was somehow special, as one’s disease would lead one to believe, at the end the day the driving forces that led to and perpetuated the vicious cycle are quite the same.
A “normal” person may try a drug on more than one occasion, and think nothing of it. Whereas, others being exposed to a substance will have a far different experience and develop an insidious relationship with drugs and alcohol due to genetic, psychological and environmental factors. If the aforementioned explanation seems ambiguous or nebulous, that is because it is; while addiction experts and researchers have a basic understanding of what precipitates an addiction there is still much that is not well understood.
It Doesn’t Matter How You Got Here
People who are new to recovery, will often feel an urge to at least try explaining how this happened. Where they zigged when they should have zagged. But, when all is said and done, such explanations and experiences are only of value when it comes to not repeating past behaviors. Simply put, the road that brings one to the abyss of active addiction, is not the same road you will take to recover from the disease.
We can’t walk back down the road of our past, identify where we made a wrong turn and correct course accordingly. Rather, one must forge a new path. A journey that requires not only adopting, but showing deference to the principles and traditions that have saved the lives of those who have come before you. In the “rooms,” you will be asked to share your experience, strength and hope by relaying what it was like (active addiction), what happened (how you came to the realization that one’s course was no longer tenable) and what it is like now (the transformation which resulted from living life one day at a time and practicing the principles of recovery in all your affairs)?
It may seem like an onerous task, and it is most certainly. But, through honesty, humility and continually reminding yourself that without taking these steps the outcomes are bleak. In the rooms of recovery, you are taught how to learn from your past, by living for today, so that you may have a future.
Giving It Away Is The Gift
It is interesting to note the transformation people undergo, as is evident by what is shared. In early recovery, one is in total disarray. In a fog of one’s own shame and regret, incessant and pervasive thoughts about how your best thinking got you here. Newcomers are still so close to their disease that to talk about anything but what it was like out there is an impossibility. But those who are willing to do the work, follow direction and are honest (even when it hurts) have a fighting chance at not only achieving long term recovery, they will be in a position to share the strength and hope—potentially aiding others in their mission to live a spiritual existence.
Many, if not the majority, of people who enter a program of recovery are hopeful that manageability will be returned. They look around at those who have significant recovery time, they hear about how those peoples’ lives have been put back together from a multitude of infinitesimal pieces. Some of whom getting their families back, holding good job, driving their own vehicle (registered and with valid insurance), etc. It can be easy to see all those things as being the gift, or gifts of recovery. However, those are merely the byproduct of the true Gift of recovery. The miracle of living a spiritual life free from the bondage of self, helping others recover as they help you recover, simply by sharing one’s experience, strength and hope. Having an active role in another’s recovery is the Gift, you get to keep your recovery because you freely give it away.