Addiction Is Like Drowning!
by Ned Wicker
The expressions on their faces reflect their experience of helplessness and fear, when people recall what it is like to come close to drowning.
It’s difficult at best to try to imagine what near drowning is like for those of us who have not gone through that experience, but the frightening tales that are shared in our group discussion on spirituality and 12-Step bring a chilling illustration to our understanding of the first three steps.
STEP ONE: We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction–that our lives had become unmanageable.
“Brian” was out fishing on a small lake when his boat capsized. His first reaction was to save his tackle box and swim to shore. He couldn’t. Soon he let go of the tackle box and clung to the boat. He said he was a strong swimmer, but for some reason this time he just couldn’t.
He was out on the lake, clinging to the boat before a motorist stopped and spotted him. “Do you need help?” the motorist asked. “Yes” was the quick response. His situation was life-threatening and he knew he had no control over it.
STEP TWO: Came to believe that a Power great than our own could restore us to sanity.
Brian shared with us that he didn’t want help initially; because he figured he could go it alone. It was no big deal. But as he tried and failed, he realized that somebody else was going to have to get him out of the water. “I didn’t think I needed any help. I was wrong,” he said. “I was out there for six hours. I prayed for help.”
STEP THREE: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
The motorist called 911, but the response time was very slow and another hour went by. Finally the rescue team from the local volunteer fire department arrived and used a small boat to get to Brian.
The water level was low and there was at least 100 yards of muck and mud to push through just to get to water. It took the team a while to get out on the lake. Tired and worn out, even if Brian might have been able to get to the mud, he would not have had the strength to get through it.
“I was so glad to see them,” he said. “They got me in the boat and it was very hard for them just to get me to land. If they wouldn’t have come, I would have died out there. It was cold, the water was cold, but I don’t even remember feeling it. I don’t know if God sent those people or not, but I was just glad they got me out of there.”
Brian’s story brought a clear and frighteningly practical illustration to the first three steps. There have been hundreds of stories shared, but the commonality of all of them is the helplessness the person experiences, and always there is somebody who intervenes and pulls them out of the water.
In Brian’s case it took him a while to understand that he was in trouble, but once he did, he was grateful for getting the assistance he needed. He could do nothing for himself, so he allowed the rescue team to do the work.
The important thing to remember about Brian is that he fought the idea of needing help, almost to the point of drowning. We want to help ourselves out of addiction, but we need others. That power greater than ourselves, is the power that gets us off the lake.
We are in trouble, we need help and we need to allow the help to intervene. Brian also shared that after sharing his story and applying the 12-Step to his personal situation, he began to understand the meaning of those first three steps for the first time in years. Addiction is like drowning!