Recovering From Addiction In 12-Step
Recovering From Addiction In 12-Step
Daniel Gatlin (Director, Renaissance Malibu) gives expert video advice on: What is the goal of 12 step recovery?; How can family and friends support a 12 step program member?; What skills are needed for a successful recovery in a 12 step program? and more...
What is 'recovery' according to the 12 step model?
There are a lot of different definitions that I have come across over the years, but I would say, "Recovery is more of an orientation to life." I think it has to do with honesty, with dealing with the issues that come into your life in an honest open way, being teachable, being willing to let go of things that no longer serve you, being willing let go of behaviors, and manipulations and beliefs that no longer serve you and being more appreciative of the present moment. And the fact that we all have a very limited amount of time on this planet and to live that with the greatest, I guess appreciation and reverence for a way of life that is going to bring happiness and serenity and openness to all of us. And how that is going to look on the outside is probably going to be a little bit different for every person but how that manifest in their life I think tends to be pretty universe in that there is less of a fearful approach to life. There is more of an openness to what life brings, there's of more living in the present moment rather than being obsess with the past or the future and there is an openness to what life is going to bring your way without trying to control it before it ever happens.
What is the goal of 12 step recovery?
A recovery program is basically aimed at restoring balance to a persons life. If you are dealing with a sexual addiction and you go to sex addicts anonymous, and the only way of you being able not to engage in that behavior is to go to the meeting, maybe for a period of time that would be the most important thing for you to do. If you find ten years down the road that it's not serving the same function anymore and it's becoming more of your primary connection to the outside world and you substitute addiction, then you may be you need to look at doing something else. This is because until the person has restored a sense of balance in their life and they are taking care of themselves in life, emotionally and psychologically and spiritually and in their interaction to others, I don't think they have really achieved that kind of balance.
What can I expect as I begin the recovery process of the 12 step program?
There is a term in "AA" just in substance abuse treatment that they call a "dry drunk" where a person is not drinking, but all of their behaviors are as out of control as if they were actively using. The same thing can be with behavioral addictions. Once you abstain from you behavior of choice, a lot of other things are going to start coming up. A lot of feelings are going to start coming up because you have been using that as a way to stuff down a lot of other uncomfortable feelings, awarenesses that you've had and they're all gonna come back again. You need to deal with them. That's where you need to get some outside help that will allow you to maneuver through this. And chances are once you've lost your objectivity, it's going to be hard to do it on your own. That's why we have the fellowship groups. That's why we have professionals in the field that can help you. You may say, "Well, you said that it's an internal process", it is. But the one thing that humans are very good at is lying to themselves. And justifying their behaviors to themselves. And blaming others for problems. And it's like that's where you need someone, whether it's a sponsor, whether it's a therapist, whether it's a trusted friend, to be there like a mirror for you as you go through this process.
What skills are needed for a successful recovery in a 12 step program?
Honesty, openness, being teachable, and being willing to look at yourself closely.
What does it mean to take 'one day at a time' in a 12 step organization?
It's just realizing that the only reality that humans have is in the moment; that anything else is an illusion. When we get caught up into memories, or memories of the past, or fantasies of what the future is going to be, we're not living in the moment, and the moment is all that's real. As soon as we move into either of those realms, and we would say we're planning and everything. But the thing is, we're dealing with an illusion, and the problem with an addiction is that once you start to think about tomorrow, you can think about every tomorrow for the next 5 years, for the next 30 years, for however long. You can get caught up into a fantasy that may never come to be. The one day at a time is like, Okay, come back to your senses. What are you seeing? What are you smelling? What are you hearing? This is what's real. Not all of this other stuff, not all of these stories you tell yourself about who you are, and what life should be, or what life shouldn't be, or how you've been abused by life, or how you're going to make it big. Do what you can during the day, but realize that the only reality is right now and all I have to deal with is right now, because everything else is a fantasy or a memory.