“Call Me Before You Pick Back Up!”


This is a common statement that most sponsors and people who have some time in recovery will say to a newcomer in any of the 12-Step programs. Unfortunately, it’s rarely done. Instead, what happens all too often is the exact opposite.

For any individual who is on the fence with the idea of relapsing back into their addiction, it’s sad to say, but in most cases, they’ve already gone ahead and done it in their minds. And the time it takes for them to follow through with the physical action of doing it isn’t far behind.

So why is this?

It’s actually quite simple. They haven’t had enough pain yet.

As Bill Wilson once said it, pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth. When a person starts to find recovery from whatever their addiction is, it’s usually because they are already in great pain from doing it. The real scary part for them though is when that pain begins to feel even greater as they start their step work with their sponsor. Doing step work is no different than any other toxin or poison removal based process. As that person gets into the meat and guts of the steps, those toxins and poisons begin seeping out. When this happens, it can create the illusion that the pain is far worse than when they were using their addiction as a crutch. But what they don’t realize is that all the pain they’re feeling is coming from the healing process.

It’s really unfortunate how many give up at this stage. Instead of calling their sponsor for help and guidance, they begin to think about using their addiction to deal with this perception of increased pain. And as I said earlier, when a person reaches this stage in their mind, most will go back out.

I have found the only thing that has kept me from relapsing back into any of my addictions is a much closer relationship to God. The original twelve steps that Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith created was geared for this specific reason. They mentioned God in six of the twelve steps, as they understood long ago that there was no human power than could ever prevent a person from relapsing.

So in many ways, telling a newcomer to call if they’re thinking about picking back up can really just be lip-sync. While it does offer support to them on some level, a better approach is to begin working immediately on helping that newcomer grow closer to their Higher Power. As it truly is that Higher Power who will be able to prevent them from picking back up. And it’s only that Higher Power, and not a phone call to anyone in recovery, that will ultimately give them enough strength to working through all of their pain, once and for all.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson