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the first step

May 1, 2011

Step 1 (in the 12 step recovery model):  Admit that you are powerless over (insert substance) and that your life has become unmanageable.

I see a lot of substance abuse cases each week and one thing that is tough to do is weeding out those who don’t have a problem with drugs/alcohol and those that say they don’t have a problem.  It’s interesting to see something take over the body and mind in such a way that makes us lie to ourselves and to others.

No matter if it’s drugs or simply a bad habit, anyone of us can allow negative things to enter our lives.  We let them set up shop and we don’t want to let them go- even if they are the very thing that is destroying us.  We can’t see reality through the haze of our own desire.

Yet, there is power in the admission of our weakness.  Do you catch the irony?  Once we admit we are powerless we can then regain power.  Without proper recognition of our vulnerability we are left with just a prideful gaze that only sees the world from one narrow and biased angle.  This makes me think about James 4:6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” We won’t seek help unless we know we need it.  It’s simple stuff but still one of the most difficult things within addiction or even issues of relationships and faith.

Addiction brings about isolation by pulling us into ourselves.  If I haven’t heard from a client struggling with substance abuse in a couple weeks I know that relapse is probable.  It is in the misconception of strength and power that many say, “I got this.”  We need to put forth a new ideal in a society that praises the strong individual.  Or better, we just need a new definition for the strong individual.

Maybe strength has more to do with initiating and less to do with holding out the longest.  Maybe it’s about staring down your mistakes opposed to ignoring them.

Whatever it is, we can’t allow our pride to get in the way of our progress.

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