Community based Treatment
The emphasis and fundamental key to the 12 Step program is this word Surrender. My all time favourate Cliche is “victory lies in the admission of defeat - surrender to win”. There is so much truth in this one saying for recovery.
From step 1 “admitting we are powerless” all the way through to step 12 “practicing these principles in all our affairs” the theme of surrender remains the Golden thread holding it all together. Recovery remains impossible until we are able to give up control and surrender to a process.
In step 1 we admit defeat and admit that our way of dealing with life does not work. In step 2 we see that our sanity lies in a process that is bigger than us and finally in step 3 we make the ultimate decision to give up control and surrender our will and our lives to someone else’ care and direction - a power greater than ourselves or a God of our own understanding.
Most would see step 3 as the ultimate step of surrender but it does not stop there, in fact if one were to study step 11 you would see that by the time we reach this step we have completely sacrificed our own will and our own lives and surrendered ourselves over to God’s will for our lives - it is no longer about us at all - “praying only for knowledge of His will for our lives and the power to carry that out”.
The only way we are able to get to a place of being able to carry out God’s will is by completely surrendering to what He wants to do with our lives and surrendering to who He wants us to be. This becomes the very nature of Step 6 and 7. By the time we get to step 6 we have in essence become “entirely ready to have God remove our defects of character” and in step 7 we give God permission to shape us into the person He needs us to be to carry out His will “we humbly asked him to remove our short comings”.
The 12 step process changes us so profoundly that we move away from being entirely self-Centred to being completly God-Centred. It goes as far as to conclude the process in step 12 by saying “having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps we take the message out to those still struggling” - Gods ultimate will for all of our lives also known as the “Great commission”.
Romans 12:1-2 sums it all up:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And finally we see this very principle described in Luke 9:23-24:
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
Addiction is rooted in fear, anxiety and self-doubt. From the core of our fear stems a flawed belief system that tells us that we are not good enough, not lovable and certainly misunderstood. Alcoholic Anonymous refers to this as the spiritually rooted disease - "The feeling of being alone in the midst of a crowed, of feeling unloved in the middle of your loving family and the belief that no one could possibly understand how you feel because no one could have ever felt this way". It is from this foundation that all our behaviors, addictions and problems stem.
When we grow up viewing the world and perceiving events through the lenses of fear, doubt and anxiety we develop a complex system of faulty beliefs, thoughts, attitudes and emotions. These all inevitably trigger behavioral coping mechanisms that ultimately lead us to abusing substances and alcohol and to developing other phones rocess addictions - we believe we have found the answer and "cure" to the root cause of our mj. It is this exact process that drives tremendous amounts of shame - our "shame-based identity" becoming the Siamese twin of our "addict identity".
As we grow we experience the very things we fear - rejection, abandonment, humiliation. These experiences cause us to feel shamed. We believe there must be something wrong with us. As we try to navigate the world with our underlying sense of anxiety we develop feelings of shame as our belief grows that we are somehow different and just cant cope as normal people do. As our self-esteem keeps plummeting and our experiences of failure starts to rise we experience shame. This shame becomes debilitating - this shame feels like death and so we start to run - we do whatever it takes to avoid this feeling and anything that could possibly threaten us - shame to us is like death and so we hide it away.
Unfortunately the very defenses we develop to combat our shame generally lead us to feeling more shame - a self inflicted shame. We have inappropriate sexual relationships, we have outbursts of rage and hurt the very people we love, we try to manage our lives and our addictions but keep failing, we develop these personalities driven by arrogance and grandiosity trying to portray something we are not - this very pattern just reinforces all of our flawed beliefs we have developed about ourselves and the world around us.
Here are some characteristics of this shame we are talking about:
Shames lives and breeds in silence - we cannot and will not talk about it.
Shame systematically shuts down every thought of value, worth and dignity.
Shame robs us of being able to be authentic - our lives become a carefully orchestrated show hiding what we don't want people to see about us.
Shame projects judgement onto all that is good and denies us the ability to trust that good things are possible.
Shame shouts loudest in our silence so we do everything we can to busy ourselves often creating chaos in order to avoid having to deal with the feeling of shame.
Shame says we are destined to be alone so we try to be everything for everyone desperately clinging onto the people in our lives even when they are toxic and damaging to us.
The only way to combat Shame is to allow ourselves to experience it - we have to feel the pain and hurt, we have to allow ourselves the time to heal and we have to identify what the patterns of behaviors, thoughts and triggers are for our shame. In order to do this we have to talk about it.