Facts about Drug Addiction and How to Recover
Drug addiction is a serious illness by which millions of people worldwide are affected. Fortunately, there is a way to recover from perpetual drug abuse. The principles outlined in this article are the principles of Narcotics Anonymous – a fellowship of men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless condition.
Where the Problem Lies
Contrary to popular belief, drugs are not the actual source of addiction. While they are a serious problem and many problems arise as a result of using them, drug abuse is a symptom of emotional insecurity, fear, and many other defects of character by which drug addicts are affected. In the meeting halls of Narcotics Anonymous, you can hear accounts of people feeling out of place in their families and school while growing up. What you find is that a certain discomfort with life itself has dominated the thoughts, actions, and behaviors of addicts even before they ever started using drugs.
There is a Solution
The good news for drug addicts everywhere is that there is a solution to addiction. The solution lies in the 12-steps of Narcotics Anonymous. Through the 12-steps, addicts get in touch with a power greater than themselves and begin to clean up the ‘wreckage of their past’. For some addicts who have yet to hit rock bottom in their addiction, some of the steps may seem insurmountable. For others who are out of ideas and ready to admit that they are unable to manage their own lives, a great freedom awaits.
If you or somebody you know has experienced some of the most devastating results of addiction (homelessness, suicide attempts, jail or prison, etc.) and has become ready to find a new way of life, there are Narcotics Anonymous meetings everywhere. They are in every city of every state of the United States and in many other countries. You don’t have to suffer in powerlessness any longer.
At your first NA meeting, you’re bound to hear some suggestions which are typical in 12-step recovery. Among these suggestions will be to get a sponsor, read the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous, get a service commitment, work the steps, and follow direction.
A sponsor is an addict who has worked at least one set of steps. A sponsor is there to help guide you through the steps, listen to you, and provide you with direction on how to start living clean. If you want to have a fighting chance on recovering from active drug addiction, your best bet is to follow the suggestions of your sponsor and to do what millions of others have done.
The 12-Steps of Narcotics Anonymous
Steps one through three can be summed up very easily: I can’t, God can, and I’ll let him. If you have a problem with the mention of God, you are not alone. There are many addicts who – when they first joined NA – had problems with the idea of God. Perhaps you are resentful at the God of your family – the one who you perceived as having deserted you, or the one who always had too high of expectations.
The good news is that you don’t need to subscribe to anybody else’s version of God. You get to choose a God of your own understanding, and you may even need to start out simply by recognizing the group of NA a power greater than yourself. If you have even the smallest amount of willingness to believe in any Power greater than yourself, it’s a first step in the right direction.
Steps four and five are an opportunity for you to review your resentments, look at the part you played, and share some of the most hard-to-swallow facts of your life with another human being. Many addicts are afraid of taking these vital steps. It’s easy enough to point the finger and list the wrongs that everybody has done to you; but when it comes to listing the part you played, there may be some resistance.
Furthermore, it’s difficult sometimes for people to imagine telling another human being all the distasteful things they’ve done. What you must realize, however, is that all addicts have a slew of past actions and behaviors of which they are less than proud. You are probably not unique, and your sponsor will surely be able to listen to your history and identify with some of your behaviors. You will be put at ease when he shares his experience, letting you know that he, too, has had his own share of shame-filled accounts.
In steps six, you become entirely ready for God to remove the defects you shared with another person. In step seven, you humbly ask Him to remove your shortcomings.
Steps eight and nine are about listing the people to whom you’d done harm in your addiction and becoming willing to make amends. You may owe some financial amends or emotional amends, and you will get the opportunity to make these when the time is right. These are other steps that scare newcomers. You may have a whole list of financial amends which you feel you will never be able to afford to repay. Do not be discouraged. When God is ready for you to be able to make such amends, the opportunities will present themselves.
Steps ten and eleven are designed to strengthen and maintain your spiritual life. In step ten, you continue to take personal inventory on a regular basis and promptly admit your malfeasance. In step eleven, you continue to enhance your spiritual life through prayer and meditation.
Finally, in step twelve, you carry the message to other addicts. Carrying the message (sharing your experience, strength, and hope) helps you to keep what was so freely given to you. Nothing ensures immunity from the first drug as effectively as working with newcomers. As a matter of fact, an entire chapter is dedicated to this vital step in the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous.
When you’re active in your addiction, you lose the power of choice of whether or not to use. Once you turn your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand him, you gain a sense of power. As long as you don’t take that first drug – no matter what – it’s possible to stay clean and sober. The 12-steps are a design for living that works.