By Ned Wicker
The final step in the 12 Step process begins, “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps…” It implies not so much the end of a journey, but the beginning of a new one, as we take our new self into the world to reach out and help others.
It’s amazing to me how people who have the inner courage to face themselves and their own, personal demons, can come out the other end of this long and dark tunnel full of life and compassion. It’s not so much that a lightning bolt came out of the heavens and struck them, as much as it is that they allowed personal growth and transformation to take place.
People want a quick fix to everything. We want everything now and when we don’t get it, we are violated, victims of wrong. We take pills for everything, whether we have the problem or not, because the television ad tells us we need their product. “Tell your doctor about…” which really means “tell your doctor how to practice medicine because he’s an idiot.”
We have to fix it right away.
The problem with addiction is that it is a spiritual disease as much as it may be a medical condition. Obviously there are physical side effects of drugs, some producing the desired results, while others put us on the threshold of death.
Addicted people don’t just set out to become addicts; they slip into addiction over time. What might have started as a pleasant recreational activity has turned into a daily ritual of self-medicating just to try to get close to feeling “normal” or somewhat good.
Naturally, people submitting to treatment need to go through detoxification and a medical intervention is often needed to avoid the dangerous withdrawal symptoms that some drugs cause. Treatment often includes behavioral science approaches, as people rebuild the way they think and view the world. There can be excellent tools to help reform thought and action. The story, however, does not end there.
It’s understandable that we want to feel good, but in the case of addiction that desire to feel good can turn into a regimen of destruction, as our health, our lives, our relationships and our future is consumed in an endless succession of bad decisions.
Feeling good is killing us.
Addicts lose control of themselves as the drug takes over. They become completely self-absorbed, manipulative, deceitful, lying, conniving creatures of the shadows. What was once a bright and promising man or woman has become an animal, caring only for self-preservation in the form of seeking the drug. The addiction does not care if it kills its host.
People have to be put back together in order to overcome the disease. There is no cure, mainly because there is no cure for the human condition. But people can manage their lives and build for the future.
No pill rebuilds the spirit! No medical intervention can produce self-worth. It takes courage and the willingness to look deep within one’s own self, which is why I have such affection and admiration for those who have gone through the steps and have come out as complete people, with a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Many of the guests who appear on our “Recovery Now” internet radio show are classic examples of regular people who have been put back together. Our friend Joe Herzanek, author of “Why Don’t They Just Quit?” re-wrote an already powerful and successful book, because he felt led to accentuate the spiritual.
The nay-sayers of course are going to argue against the idea of 12 Step, claiming it doesn’t work. They are right that it doesn’t work for everybody, mainly because so many never give it a chance. They are afraid to take the personal responsibility for their actions and face the reality of their own life.
If you’re looking for an immediate fix, the 12 Step isn’t for you. How long does it take to do a step? I know people who have work on individual steps for months, or over a year.
“Oh, I’ve gone through the steps but I still use.” No you haven’t. Something inside still hurts. You need to find out what hurts and deal with that. We have to admit to the problem, believe a power greater than ourselves can restore us and then turn our will and our life over to the care of that power.
It’s a spiritual journey.
A quick fix doesn’t solve the problem at its root. But all too often, a quick fix is all somebody will allow. We want it now, because we deserve it and the ad says we can have it. Whether it’s a 12 Step program or another proven way of managing addiction, the strength needs to flow and the addict needs to do the “heavy lifting” to build spiritual muscles to sustain over the years.
A person needs to be honest, open and willing to take that long, inner look and deal with the reality and consequences of life. That’s how people get put back together and become whole human beings. There is no quick fix, no pill and no “easy” method. It takes work, but the rewards are worth it.
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