There are few things that are simple in modern life, and addiction is certainly not one of them. To many outsiders, it may seem as simple as just quitting. After all, it may have ruined your finances, relationships, health and life, so it is difficult for normal people to understand why you cannot stop something so clearly destructive.
For those living with addiction, however, it is not a destructive path, a selfish choice or a series of hurtful acts– it is life. We do not know any other way of being because– for better or worse– this is who we are, and we cannot be anyone else. We are not stupid, blind, ignorant or even inherently more selfish than others; we are sick.
A Simple Solution?
When seeking an answer to this complex problem, it is only natural to believe that there must be an equally complex solution. Again, nothing is simple in our world, so how could a problem that is so obviously difficult and infinitely frustrating have a simple solution? We have spent our lives struggling with this issue– trying to cure an incurable disease and solve an unsolvable problem– and it only makes sense that it must have an inconceivably complicated solution we have been unable to comprehend.
That is why the answers provided by the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous seem so counterintuitive to young people. We have spent our lives in a society ruled by reason that champions productivity and problem-solving, and we know no other way to approach this largest problem that has plagued us. No amount of love, logic, drug testing kits, probation officers or preachers could help, so how could AA’s simplistic solution?
It is almost as if we would feel silly to admit that the thing that has caused us so much strife and damage could be solved simply. That is to say, we must be stupid (the worst of all modern sins) to have missed any solution that is relatively simple. But we are not; we have an incurable disease which makes us unreasonable by convincing us there is no reasonable solution.
The point is there is a solution, and although it is simple, that does not mean it will be easy. Everyone’s path is different, and I can only offer my own experience, strength and hope. But I do believe I may be in a unique position to help those who are like me understand how to start finding that solution.
12 Steps for Today’s Alcoholic/Addict
Although it may seem like sacrilege to AA/NA hardliners and fundamentalists, I will try and write the 12 steps as I experienced them. I only have a limited amount of space to work with and am limited by my own experiences, but I hope this can provide a different perspective that may ring true to alcoholics and addicts of my millennial generation. I have no intention of rewriting the steps, but I would like to provide the interpretation of them that helped save my life.
- Admitted I could not beat this thing on my own, and I gave up trying.
- Was willing to believe there was a solution outside of my own power.
- Asked for the help of something stronger than me.
- Wrote a summary of my life story, focusing on the selfishness and self-centeredness that defined my actions.
- Told this summary of my life story to my Higher Power and my AA/NA sponsor.
- After careful thought and meditation, honestly believed that I was ready to be a better person.
- Asked my Higher Power to remove the character defects which had held me back and hurt those around me.
- Made a list of everyone who had been harmed by my actions and decided to make it right.
- Reached out to those I had harmed and did whatever could be done to make it right.
- Made a constant effort to improve my self-awareness and to live the practical principles learned in previous steps.
- Continuously tried to improve my understanding of and relationship with my Higher Power.
- After a miraculous change, reached out to others in need to share the gift of recovery with them.