If you have been following this article series from its inception, you will recall we have covered treatment’s relationship with the 12 steps and the 12 principles. This year we will examine the 12 “promises” of recovery or what the recovering person and to an extent family, “wins” as a result of sobriety. These articles are independent of the previous year’s so no worries if you are just coming on board.
The second* “promise” (in quotations simply because that is not an official recovery term, rather an term of endearment used by the recovery community) discusses a recovering person gaining a new freedom and a new level of happiness or ok-ness, if you will. Freedom is an interesting choice of word here and it truly sums up the state of living that a recovering person experiences if they work a 12 step program. Freedom from what, we all at one point asked? And the true answer, spoken and written by many people is “the bondage of self”. Alcoholics and addicts are in a constant process of self-destruction and self sabotage. The addict or alcoholic mind simply will not allow it’s host to achieve greatness in life. The addict/alcoholic may experience tangible success in differing areas, but will not emotionally or spiritually embrace a life worth living. For years of using an uncomfortable truth was hidden. Most addicts and alcoholics, long before they engaged in their drug of choice, despised those who did and the substances themselves. We can go back to the age of reason (around 7) and see that once a belief is formed at that time, any further action that goes against that fundamental belief will cause great distress for that person. Any addict or alcoholic has lied to themselves and tricked themselves into actions that they know they dislike, for many years. They must learn to be free from this negative behavior.
Freedom in this sense can and does also mean freedom from the prison the actual substance keeps the abuser locked in. Many addicts/alcoholics when pressed to be honest will admit that using or drinking hasn’t “worked” for many years. This doesn’t mean they did not achieve intoxication, it means that the glorious emotional payoff once promised by their drug or drink, has faded into an impossible to regain oblivion. In the song “Master of Puppets” by Metallica, the leader singer asks “Master, Master, where’s the dreams that I’ve been after, promised only lies”. Brilliant lyrics that although sung about cocaine in the song, can be used for any substance of abuse. Once the user has crossed into this realization but cannot stop, they truly are prisoners and need to be freed. The happiness connection then, becomes any easy one to make. Freedom=Happiness. There is no other way about it in this arena. Happiness for an addict or alcoholic simply means to learn to live life on life’s terms and to be present emotionally for all the experiences in your life. To move from spectator to participant in one’s own life is a true sign of freedom and happiness.
How does treatment help with this “promise”? By providing tools that help on an emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual level that will allow the client to achieve freedom and happiness. Treatment helps people quickly move through obstacles that otherwise may take them years, if ever, to realized and overcome. Treatment underlines that fact that if you are not free, you cannot enjoy and learn to love life. Everything starts with this premise like it has always. Most every battle is for some form of freedom and addiction is no different. Only with addiction we must be liberated from ourselves or at least the negative part of ourselves. Treatment can do this in a way we may not on our own recognizance. Check back next month as we discuss how we can learn to embrace the past!
*= this is sometimes referred to as the first official “promise”. See last month’s article for the first according to this writer
**please note that all matter stated here is that of an independent writer and does not represent the River Source trying to re-define the promises, this is simply a look at how treatment uses the 12 promises and helps people achieve them. In support of that purpose, only a synopsis of each promise will be included every month. For a list of the 12 promises and the accurate/official definitions please contact AA world services or obtain a copy of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”.**