Tag Archives: twelve-step programs

The Twelve Steps and Early Recovery

Twelve step recovery can be very challenging for young people because so much of it is based on concepts that are usually associated with an adult perspective. A realization of powerlessness, any admission of wrong doing, reliance on a Higher Power, and a willingness to face people who have been hurt is difficult. This is particularly a challenge for adolescents and young adults. Adults in recovery have a difficult time taking responsibility for their actions, much less a young person. In the mind of a young drug and/or alcohol abuser there is nothing wrong with what he/she is doing. In his or her mind if everyone would just back off, there wouldn’t be a problem. This has always been a challenge for young people who need help but is especially difficult today.


Identity Addiction

 

Drug and alcohol treatment is not immune to the current climate of identity separation. If you look around, there are 12-Step meetings available to almost every imaginable classification of people. Many of these group distinctions are unnecessary and can water down the message of recovery. It is generally dangerous for a person with drug and alcohol problems to be “terminally unique.” However, young people are at a different stage of development. Not only are they working through a dangerous drug and alcohol problem they are experiencing normal brain development along with hormonal changes. This can be a lot to deal with. These factors don’t excuse poor behavior but must be understood when treating young people. An 18 year old with an opiate or marijuana addiction is not going to experience early recovery the same way a 45 year old alcoholic does. (Yes, I am aware that I wrote marijuana addiction)

Sobriety: The Great Equalizer

Any recovering addict or alcoholic learns the importance of “living life of life’s terms.” The sober man or woman recognizes the value in being a productive member of society. The same is true for a young person. Although some of the definitions may differ, a person in recovery needs to mend broken relationships, become responsible, and learn to adapt to changing circumstances. These characteristics are essential to long term recovery. The twelve steps provide a simple framework to achieve these goals. Change may not happen immediately but with patience and perseverance these turnarounds can be permanent.

Tips For Early Recovery: Don’t Take Temporary for Permanent In Sobriety

When an addict or alcoholic enters recovery it may take a few days, or in some cases weeks, for the dust to settle. Once the initial crisis that leads an individual into treatment subsides, the challenge really begins. For the person in recovery, there can be a feeling of hopelessness due to becoming aware of the damage that has been created. For a family member or loved one, it is normal at this stage for anger to come to the surface. This is the point at which recovery tools become a high priority. Without a new manner of coping, an addict may resort to using drugs and/or alcohol again. A loved one is likely to try and control the behavior of the person in need of help. This stage of recovery is scary but with some awareness deep levels of sabotage can be averted.

Ride the Pink Cloud

When a person enters treatment everyone involved breathes a sigh of relief. Even when someone starts their sobriety reluctantly, physical abstinence usually allows for a degree of relief. Early recovery is usually the first time in a long time that a loved one, especially a parent, has had any sense of solace. This period of time is sometimes described as “the pink cloud.” This break from the insanity of addiction should be welcomed. This is also a good time to start implementing aspects of the 12 steps. Once the pink cloud subsides, it is vital to have a safety net of support. This is created by forming relationships with other people on a similar journey and by developing a basic connection with a Higher Power.

It Is a Rollercoaster

There are definitely lots of ups and downs in early sobriety. It is never a smooth ride. There is a lot to learn and many issues of which to become aware. It is not abnormal to feel a bit overwhelmed. Don’t take temporary for permanent. As scary as the journey up the hill can be, it is exhilarating to rush down hill and discover what is around the corner. If everyone involved stays engaged in a personal program there is endless joy that awaits. There will be ups and downs but the adventure will always be rewarding.

Early Addiction Recovery

Early addiction recovery can be very tricky. Not only is there a presenting problem or crisis related to drugs and alcohol, there are the years of emotions that have been avoided, the fractured family relationships, and feelings of failure. Most addicts and alcoholics have squandered talents, opportunities, and potential. This can be scary and frustrating to loved ones who feel torn between fear and resentment. On one hand, a parent  may want to lock a young drug abuser away until he or she “grows up” enough to understand the ramifications of his or her actions. On the other hand, a parent may feel that any lengths that need to be gone to in order to keep the child alive are worth it. These emotions can be crippling.

What Actually Happens In Early Recovery?

A simple way to understand the beginning stages of sobriety is to look at what parts of a person are truly affected by alcoholism and addiction. The short answer is: all aspects of a person are damaged. There are physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. All of these areas have to be addressed patiently. Abstinence alone does not fix the problem, this is merely physical. “Finding God” is very difficult for someone who is under foreign management. Going to therapy and “getting to the root of it” does not motivate someone abusing drugs and alcohol to change. He or she is usually aware of many of the issues at hand. It generally takes 2-3 weeks for a recovering addict to begin “feeling.” Early abstinence; once the angst of not using passes, leads the newly sober person to feel better. This good feeling doesn’t last very long. Once the addict begins to experience emotions he or she tends to become filled with anxiety, frustration, and fear.

The Solution Is Spiritual

Twelve step recovery is predicated on an understanding of a Higher Power. Whether this begins as the love of an empathetic group of people, a traditional religious concept of God, or some other form of spirituality it is critical for an addict to begin this process. A person new in recovery needs hope. He or she needs genuine love and concern. He or she relies on the awareness that addiction and alcoholism can be overcome. This spiritual contact provides the motivation to walk through the challenge of facing difficult problems. Once a spiritual foundation is established much of the emotional work can begin. This is when introspection, therapy, and development of more effective coping mechanisms takes place.

How Long Does It Take?

Good recovery never ends. For an alcoholic, addict, or substance abuser the journey is ongoing. This is not depressing. This is an awareness that as long as someone is willing to take an honest look at his or her life, opportunities for growth will always arise. This experience is liberating and filled with joy. The knowledge and life skills developed in sobriety provide a better understanding of success, happiness, and healthy relationships. Rather than put a time frame on “when will it get better”, understand that as soon as someone commits his or her self to recovery, life begins to get better. Everyone involved needs patience and a compassionate perspective. The rewards that come from real sobriety are incalculable.

 

In Order To Stay Sober Find A Higher Power

In order to stay sober, an addict must identify the ways drugs and alcohol make his or her life
unmanageable. Without this admission, progression into the following steps is impossible.The acceptance that drugs and alcohol either created or magnified problems provides the proper foundation for moving forward in the program.   For parents there is a similar need to determine how the pattern of addiction has created unmanageability in their lives. An addict creates much destruction in his wake and family members are inevitably affected. With the identification of these issues comes the opportunity to truly change. The beauty of twelve step recovery is that it provides people with coping tools to let go of negative patterns and replace them with more effective ways to cope. The primary theme that runs through the twelve steps is the recognition of the need for a relationship with a Higher Power.In Order To Stay Sober Find A Higher Power

There Is A God and It Ain’t Me!

Most people with drug and alcohol issues suffer from insecurity and low self-worth. This negative self perception is often compensated for by an overblown ego. It can be difficult for an addict or alcoholic to admit there may be any kind of power greater than him or herself, much less a benevolent being who genuinely cares for his or her condition. When this person has either moved away from any religious or spiritual background, or has no familiarity with spirituality at all, believing there is ” a Higher Power, expressed through love that can help restore us to sanity” is a bit of a stretch. Because this concept can be so complicated, finding a simple way to deflate the ego while finding hope is vital. This usually begins with some form of connection with the love and compassion of family and friends.

Life Beyond Addiction

Twelve step recovery is spiritually based. In early recovery everyone affected by addiction, both the abuser and loved ones, are encouraged to develop some sort of understanding of a Higher Power. This isn’t meant to answer deep theological or philosophical questions. The point is for those harmed by this terrible disease to realize they are not alone and that there is a solution. There are many in recovery who choose to deepen their spiritual life in many different ways. This should be encouraged. Some decide that what they identify with in early recovery is enough. Either way, if the person working a program is able to find a way to recover, they are a success. Don’t be afraid of the spiritual part of the program, in fact keep it very simple. Any good spiritual tradition is built on a foundation of Love. That is exactly what to look for because where there is love, there is hope.