When we take the First Step in AA or NA, there is usually a feeling of relief that follows. We come to realize that our former lives are full of moments in which we could have taken the right path, yet chose to discredit any that did not agree with us. This is often unacceptable to us, yet we find it difficult to make amends for our previous actions. Such is the power of denial. At some point, however, we must learn to embrace acceptance if we wish to behave as the moral individuals we believe ourselves to be. This admission is key to our sobriety.
Admission is in many ways the most fundamental aspect of the First Step. We must admit that we have been powerless to control our addiction or our alcoholism. We must accept that our lives have become unmanageable—often long before we even began to use in the first place. In other words, we must accept that things were not always as they appeared to be from our generally flawed and short-sighted viewpoint. It is so easy to assume that we are always right, so it can be difficult to accept that our addictions have caused us to commit many wrongs.
There is a point at which we must be ready to take Step One. At this point we must make two separate admissions. As noted above, the first admission is that we are powerless over drugs and/or alcohol and the second is that our lives have become unmanageable. The first, in many ways, is easier than the second. Below, we will discuss both of these admissions and why they are necessary to recovery. We will also discuss the manner in which Amethyst Recovery can help people to make these admissions so that they may never be resigned to accepting their fate as active addicts or alcoholics.
The First Admission
Accepting that we are powerless over drugs and alcohol may seem like a tall order for those who are truly in denial. Even so, it must be done. Let us recall the story of a young man who entered treatment believing that he had a problem with drugs alone, and that he could easily keep drinking if he so desired. In December, his mother sent him a care package including many Christmas candies that he had enjoyed as a child.
Upon eating these candies, the young man realized that they emitted a strange odor whenever he took a bite. He grew suspicious, and eventually thought to inspect the wrappers so that he may discover the ingredient that had resulted in this questionable aroma. Upon further examination, he discovered that these chocolates contained alcohol. He realized at this very moment that he could no longer eat the candies he had been sent, as well-intentioned as they had been. For even upon discovering the mild alcohol content of the chocolates in question, he found that his cravings had returned. He had triggers that he had never considered before, since during his active addiction he had never been required to formulate a relapse prevention plan.
This admission was difficult for the young man. Since entering treatment, he had believed that the end goal was to learn how to control his addictions. He believed that, by the time he emerged from treatment, he would be able to drink and abuse drugs every day without becoming addicted. The twisted logic of this belief had never occurred to him before he realized the extent of his triggers. After the chocolate incident, however, he learned that he was not immune to the power of addictive substances, no matter how slight the amount or innocuous the effects.
Not every addict or alcoholic has a story like this. Some are much quicker to accept that they simply cannot embrace a life of drugs and alcohol. For others, however, the realization is not so quick to occur. It takes a difficult experience such as that outlined above. The admission of one’s powerlessness can cause self-doubt, but we should try to push past this and learn how to embrace the gift that we have been given—the gift to make our lives worth something, so that they may become more manageable.
The Second Admission
People often say that only 11.5 of the Twelve Steps reference drugs or alcohol. This may sound like a quibble. Is not the entire First Step about the dangers of our use? In some ways, yes. But in other ways, no. The second admission we must make is that our lives have become unmanageable. And in many ways, this is not necessarily related to our addiction. To blame our substance abuse for our unmanageable lives would be to assume that our lives were manageable before our abuse began. For some, this may be true. For many, it is not.
We must, at this point, return to the story of the young man with the chocolates. Before he began drinking, he was in a very dark place. After he began drinking and experimenting with illicit drugs, he was in a much darker place. He did not like who he was when he was intoxicated. But he did not know who he was when he was sober, and this was a far more frightening prospect to him. In this manner, his substance abuse became a scapegoat for his conflicted feelings. It did not make him more manageable; it simply gave him the twisted logic he needed in order to live with how unmanageable his life had become.
This is not in the spirit of true admission. Scapegoats will not suffice if we are to better ourselves. We must learn to identify the ways in which our lives have become unmanageable, and we must furthermore make the admission that much work is still to be done after we have become sober. To many, there is a difference between “dry” and “sober” in that sobriety requires us to do much more than to simply cease our substance abuse. We must also seek ways to better ourselves.
By seeking ways to better ourselves, we can ensure that our admission is truly worth something. Rather than simply throwing our arms in the air and accepting our fate as addicts and alcoholics, we can seek to give our lives greater purpose so that we are thoroughly determined not to return to our previous way of life. This is what will ultimately keep us sober. We can seek means of prolonging our sobriety such as service work commitments and the dedication to helping others who suffer. In addition, we can seek life skills education and the betterment of our careers. This will give us something for which we may truly live, and this is what will keep us sober in the months and years to come.
Help From Amethyst
Amethyst Recovery understands that each admission listed above is integral to maintaining our sobriety. Prolonging our denial will only hurt us in the end, and this makes it a dangerous habit that should not be embraced. This is why Amethyst has ingrained certain components into our recovery philosophy that will ultimately help our patients to make each admission above so that they may begin breaking through their denial and seeking the betterment provided by a sober way of life.
While our programs are highly personalized, there are certain benefits that every patient will reap from our basic continuum of care. Among the most important of these is the benefit of individual and group therapy. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, our patients will learn more about the manner in which they have fed their denial through lies and self-deceit. They will learn how they have found ways to normalize their habits and make them seem acceptable, despite the harm that they have caused. Upon learning this, many immediately begin to see the error of their ways so that they may begin seeking new ways of conducting their behavior.
Amethyst also teaches methods of revising our routines to begin living in a more sober manner. This helps us to do away with the rituals we conduct around our substance abuse. It can be difficult to adjust to life in treatment, and even more difficult to adjust to life outside of treatment once we have become accustomed to a somewhat sheltered way of life. The sort of life skills education offered by Amethyst helps patients to do away with this sense of unease, embracing healthy habits that they have learned which will aid them when trying to adjust to the “normal” world.
Recovery can be difficult, but it is easy as long as we our willing to make an admission of powerlessness alongside an admission of unmanageability. If we remain in denial for the rest of our lives, we will simply never get to where we need to be in order to remain sober. For more information on our programs and how we help our patients to see the error of their actions under the influence of substance abuse, contact us today. We are eagerly awaiting contact from those who seek a better way of life.