**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”.**
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 extended 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 fifth “promise” (in quotations simply because that is not an official recovery term, rather a term of endearment used by the recovery community) discusses a recovering person coming to the realization that no matter how far down their addiction or alcoholism may have taken them, they can always help others. This is an important piece for a few reasons. First off, addicts and alcoholics alike suffer from chronic low self-worth. When somebody gets sober, they are forced to take a look at their past and really face what they have been hiding and running from. This is a sobering experience for the person in early recovery. Often times they beat themselves up and get angry that they could have done so many negative things. This anger quickly turns to guilt and then to one of the worst human emotions, feeling worthless. Once a person hits this point they are on the emotional track to relapse. But wait, the promise allows for another option.
The literature of recovery and the newly sober person’s sponsor and support system are quick to point out this promise and show people that no matter how far they may have fallen, there are people who need to hear their story. In essence, a type of “get better because you will be able to help countless people with your experience” is in play. The whole premise of a twelve-step type recovery system is one in which recovery is based on people working with and helping one another. What this promise teaches the long-suffering addict is that there are people who want and even need to hear of their experiences and especially their recovery. An addict/alcoholic who has hit rock bottom and then found recovery is often the only person who can reach another addict/alcoholic who needs the gift of recovery. Once the newly sober person we have been talking about realizes that their recovery can provide a valuable tool for others, they are often filled with a new sense of pride and purpose and you see them achieve a new gusto and zest for recovery and life.
How does treatment help with this “promise”? It is essential that new people in recovery learn to not beat themselves up or become stuck in negative guilt. These powerful emotions only serve to cripple their chance at real recovery. It can be a slippery slope guiding a newly sober person between the walls of ownership of wrong actions and gratitude for an opportunity to help others. This is best done with professional help the kind that can often only be found in a treatment setting. With maximum time spent on the steps and the promises, treatment is able to serve as a conduit for each newly sober person gaining that self-worth and self-awareness that they to can achieve great things and help others to the same! Have a great summer and we will see you next month!