Introduction to Cocaine Abuse and the 12-Step Program
Drug addiction is such a lonely disease!
As they become more dependent on their drug of choice, people isolate themselves, cutting themselves off from family, friends and activities they used to enjoy. Even when they want to come out of that world, they think they can or must do it alone.
The last thing a person needs at the very beginning of recovery is to be alone.
The addict will say,
“I’ll cut back,” or
“I just have to have the will power to stop doing drugs.”
One addict told me that the only way for him to get clean was for him to do all of the work, there was no other way.
What he was not considering is that as human beings, we are not wired that way. We are wired for relationship. We are not meant for isolation.
Moreover, what if I told you that you can’t do it all on your own strength, that you need something from somebody else? The Cocaine Abuse 12-Step process for recovery was first created in the 1930’s, by Alcoholics Anonymous, but over the last 70 plus years, over 250 self-help groups have adopted these steps.
Why? Because they work!
In my group discussions at a residential drug rehab center, we discuss how people are body, mind and spirit. Granted, our spirits can be strong and our determination staunch, but the greater power is outside of us. That is the power that only God can provide.
Imagine yourself in the kitchen to make yourself a piece of toast. You have everything you need. But when you push down the lever to lower the bread into the toaster, nothing happens. You have done every correctly, so you double check -- bread, butter, jam, knife, plate – and you see that everything is in place. But there is one item missing. You have no power to make the toaster work. After a brief “ah ha” moment you plug the toaster in and shortly thereafter enjoy your toast.
The Cocaine Abuse 12-Step process is similar to making toast in one respect, you have to plug into a power source, and when you do, everything can start to work. We believe that people are not meant to be alone, to handle the everyday challenges of life. It follows that people are certainly not meant to be alone during the very hard times. Whatever the power source, it is vital to the process.
When I meet with people who are working the 12-Step program, whether brand new to the process, or going through again after a relapse, it is always interesting and important for me to understand where they are and what is going on with them. Have you had experience with 12-Step before? What step are you on? What is difficult for you? Do you have any questions? These questions and others, depending on their responses, assist in giving me an assessment of their experience.
First timers especially have given me a common answer about their most difficult step. It's always the first one.
"We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable."
This is a very difficult first step for many people because in order to get over the hurdle you have to admit that there's something wrong. People just don't want to admit that their lives are out of control, or that they are powerless over their drinking. Making that admission is like admitting defeat.
If they read ahead and find that the third step is about turning our will and our lives over to the care of God, that is often times interpreted as yet another defeat in life, like General Robert E. Lee handing over his sword to General Ulysses S. Grant effectively ending the Civil War.
Nobody wants to be a loser. Lee may not have had a lot of options, but he carefully reviewed his situation and acted in the best interest of all concerned. I hardly call him a loser.
Looking at the first of the 12-Step process, by admitting that he/she is powerless over alcohol,the alcoholic isn't losing the battle, he/she is just beginning to fight it.
It is the first step towards empowerment and control.
Look at it a different way. We are all prideful beings. Our pride is bruised when we can't do something, or don't know something, or we are limited in anyway from doing what we want to do, when we want to do it and where we want to do it. We all want to think we can handle the situation, or make decisions any time we want. "I can quit: I'm going to quit: I don't have any problem." Our pride clearly gets in the way, even long after the situation is out of our control. Step One is brutal, because it forces us to drop the pretense. We are not in control, we have a problem and it's not ok.
There are some good reasons why the 12-Step program is ordered as they are to help us with Cocaine Abuse. After we admit the Cocaine Abuse or other drug/alcohol problem, we look to a power greater than ourselves, then turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand Him...then we make a fearless moral inventory of ourselves, knowing that God is there beside us, holding on tightly.
It's like tip-toeing to the edge of the cliff, looking down and seeing the slimy, black ooze of the human condition. All of our lies, all of our bad deeds, all of our bad thoughts are slowly swirling around, and it is no easy task to stand there, bent over and look at what we have become. Addiction and Cocaine Abuse invites us to dive in, while God invites us to allow Him to make matters right.
People tend to think of themselves as basically good. They say, "I haven't killed anyone." But at the same time you're killing yourself with Cocaine Abuse. They say, "Well other people have done worse things than me." Sure, the other guy robs a liquor store; you just steal from your kid's piggy bank. The point is, if you look at yourself honestly, you can eventually see that you are in need of help. You need a make-over.
If you can get beyond your own arrogance and pride, your own assumptions and most of all your own fear, and bring Step One into focus, it opens the door for recovery. It is the first step towards breaking the cycle of addiction and Cocaine Abuse. It allows you to embark on a journey to health. It also brings you into relationship with your creator, so by the time you come out the other side, you're whole again.
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