The first step in the fight for life (and yes, this is a life-or-death errand we are on) is the realization that we are not able to manage the situation and must accept the fact that we have a problem. Millions of alcoholics and addicts die having never been able to admit to themselves that the disease had them in its grips, just like a lung cancer patient that continues to smoke or an obese person sitting in a drive-through waiting to get another burger.
If you talk to one of our clients, they will repeat the same story: the problems generated by alcoholism—DUI, divorce, overdrawn bank account, isolation from family and friends, you name it—don’t open the drinker’s eyes to reality but instead angers him or her. The world is the enemy and another drink is the solution. And with that drink comes relief from the problem, even if only temporarily—get away from the present, and the faster the better.
The addict’s problems seem to begin when she gets sober, as drinking—an amazing coping skill—has been removed and the addict now has to take responsibility. Being accountable for one’s actions is not convenient, but from it comes growth and awareness. With acceptance of the realization that I have a problem that must be addressed comes surrender, and as paradoxical as it may sound, with surrender and throwing in the towel the alcoholic finds a life-saving and life-changing victory—we give up the idea that we know it all. We are now ready to follow directions, like a person going to a gym and signing up with a coach that provides a clear-cut formula for growth that is best adhered to, not questioned.
Wow! That is Big—that is absolutely the beginning, that realization. Remember, it’s just a conclusion of the mind; no overthinking is needed. I have a problem I cannot solve on my own and am ready to move forward—simple, but not easy. That’s why a series of breakthroughs are necessary for most in order to achieve the momentum required, and the 12 Steps provide a simple, though difficult, way to get there. So there is a solution there is a solution and there’s definitely hope, because we do recover!