Going deep within and taking a hard look at oneself is probably the single most important thing to do when a person first gets sober from any addiction. Finding a person to date or buying nice stuff for oneself most certainly isn’t. Unfortunately, many choose to do the latter and often find themselves falling right back into their addition all over again because of it, something I continue to hear again and again, just like I did the other day while running a 12 Step meeting at the local detox I volunteer at weekly.
Every Wednesday, I run a 12 Step afternoon meeting at this detox where I seem to now be seeing the same people returning over and over again, usually because their focus in sobriety was on anything except the work within. As I spoke to the clients in my meeting this past week, I was informed from one of them that their sponsor had just relapsed and was in a 30-day residential program nearby. When I inquired on who their sponsor was, I wasn’t surprised to hear who it was. I had met this individual over a year and a half ago in the very same detox. They had been homeless, drug addicted, and begging on the street for a long time until they finally had taken the best step towards a better life, one that had brought them into the detox I was running my meeting at and onto the 12 Step recovery track. For a while, I kept in touch with them on Facebook after they had successfully completed the initial stages of their recovery program. I enjoyed reading their postings as they evolved in their sobriety, making healthy sober friends, hitting meetings, and talking about the 12 Steps. But when they began to post a ton of pictures of the brand-new motorcycle they purchased and of the new attractive girlfriend they now had, I grew concerned. A concern that was actualized as soon as their sponsee confirmed the relapse in my meeting the other day.
Getting in a new relationship in the first year of recovery from an addiction is absolutely the single greatest reason why most relapse back into their addiction, because those who do, often make the person they date their higher power. And when that relationship begins to fail, essentially making them lose faith in that temporary higher power, the first go-to-method to cope in that grief is the substance of their former addiction. The same aspect holds true for people who like to buy nice stuff for themselves once they get sober, especially when they get a good paying job. Addicts tend to love acquiring those shiny things, something I’ve referred to in prior articles, because it makes them feel good every time they acquire something new. Eventually, the addict always finds that all those new things don’t take away the pain of what drove them into their addiction in the first place and neither does any new relationship for that matter either. Those things only provide temporary happiness, and accomplish essentially the same thing that the substance of their addiction once did, a way to numb oneself for a time from feeling any pain of life. The true work for a newly sober individual from any addiction is something addicts generally hate to face, that being themselves.
All the brokenness of an addict’s life including any failed relationships, losses they’ve experienced both financial and personal, past abuse they’ve endured or inflicted, tragic deaths they’ve had to go through, childhood traumas they’ve tried to forget, and the like, each are the things addicts NEED to face, but often don’t. Why? Because it’s too painful for them. Yet, that’s the very thing addicts need to do when they come into 12 Step recovery if they truly want to remain clean and sober from the substance of their addiction for the rest of their life.
The ONLY reason why I am still on a strong path of 12 Step recovery from so many addictions, is because I keep facing all the pain of both my past and my present, instead of trying to numb myself from it with a bunch of temporary things. Things like thinking another intimate relationship or buying a bunch of brand-new stuff will fix. I’m thankful that 12 Step recovery has taught me otherwise. Ultimately, the single greatest lesson 12 Step recovery taught me was to go deep within and face all my brokenness, seeking a true Higher Power to guide me through it all. For me, that’s God who’s accomplished that, one day at a time, something no new relationship or buying a bunch of nice stuff ever did or will…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson