Category Archives: 12 Steps

Addiction and the 12 Steps

Character Defect Meditation

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“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

When thinking about step six, even if your not there yet, it can be troubling. Who wants to name all of their character defects? Its not nice to point out other peoples flaws and its certainly not fun pointing out your own. Thats why I went looking for another way we can handle working through this step. Something that will give us courage but most importantly: serenity. Below you will find some adjectives that you might use to describe any number of your faults. I suggest picking a few of the most dominant traits to start with. Then there is a step-by-step guided meditation practice. Give it a look over and try it out loud first. Then, when your ready , you can really dig deep and spend some time with yourself and your thoughts. Relax and observe yourself. There is no fear, there is no tension. It’s just you and complete, utter, honesty.” -Best of luck, Robyn

List of Possible Character Defects:

  • anger, hatred
  • anxiety – Not as a clinical diagnosis, but as a general way of viewing things with an eye toward what is wrong, what might be wrong, what has been wrong or what is going to be wrong. Excessive worry, especially about things I cannot change.
  • arrogance – Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.
  • closed mindedness – Contempt prior to investigation. Disregarding things and ideas just because they are new and unknown. Being unwilling to try things or follow suggestions. Failing to remain teachable.  Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments.
  • dependency, over dependency, co dependency – Relying on others to provide for us what we ought to provide for ourselves. Feeling we must be in a relationship, or must hold on to others who want to move on. Letting others control us to an extreme due to our fear of being alone, abandoned, or independent.
  • depression, pessimism – Not as a clinical condition, but as a way to generally see the dark side of things.
  • dishonesty – Sins of omission and commission. Telling lies, hiding things, telling half truths or pretending something is so that isn’t. Withholding important information. Adding untrue details to stories and situations.  Stealing, cheating, taking things that aren’t ours and that we aren’t entitled to.
  • controlling attitude toward people, places and things – Trying to control others by manipulation, bribery, punishment, withholding things or tricking them into acting as we wish, even when we believe it is in their best interest to do so. Failing to be equal partners with others and to consider their knowledge and opinions.
  • fear
  • gluttony, greed – Wanting and taking too much: food, sex, time, money, comfort, leisure, material possessions, attention, security.  Acquiring things (material things, relationships, attention) at the expense of others.
  • gossiping – Speaking or writing about others in a negative manner, especially to get them in trouble or to feel superior to them and bond with someone else against the target of the gossip.  When I find myself talking about someone, I must pause and check out why I am mentioning their name.
  • humility, a lack of humility – Feeling better than and worse than others, and being self centered.
  • impatience – Being frustrated by waiting, wanting often to be some time in the future, wanting something to change or improve rather than accepting it as it is.
  • intolerance – Not accepting people or things for who or what they are.
  • inventory taking, being judgmental – Noticing and listing, out loud or to ourselves, the faults of others.
  • jealousy and envy – Wanting what others have, feeling we don’t have enough or deserve more, wishing we had what others do instead of them. This applies to material possessions like houses, cars, money and such. It also applies to nonmaterial things like relationships, a nice family, children, parents, friends and partners, and fulfilling work relationships. We can envy others their looks and physical appearance, their talents and physical abilities or attributes such as thinness, tallness, sports ability or musical talent.
  • laziness, procrastination, sloth – Not doing as much as is reasonable for us to do. Putting things off repeatedly. Not carrying our own load as much as we are able. Letting others provide things for us that we ought to get for ourselves.
  • perfectionism – Expecting or demanding too much from ourselves or others. Treating things that aren’t perfect as not good enough. Not recognizing a good try or progress.
  • prejudice – Pre-judging people based on a group they belong to. Negative feelings about someone based on their religion, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, accent, politics, economic status, physical characteristics like height, weight, hair style, clothing style, physical fitness.
  • rationalization, minimizing and justifying, self-justification – Saying and/or believing I had good motives for bad behavior.  Saying that I did bad things for good reasons, or that what I did really wasn’t that bad.
  • resentment – The feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.
  • rigidity and fear of change
  • self centeredness, selfishness – Spending excessive time thinking about myself. Considering myself first in situations. Not having enough regard for others or thinking about how circumstances hurt or help others. Thinking about what I can get out of situations and people, what’s in it for me? Spending too much time considering my appearance, acquiring things for myself, pampering myself, indulging myself.
  • self pity

From a blog by Lydia at Don’t Drink and Don’t Die

Meditation

Step Six Meditation:Uncover and detach from our defects

1. Relaxation, Centering and Aligning with our Higher Power

  • Let’s begin our meditation as before by getting comfortable and listening to our breath. Feel the clean light-filled air on the inhale filling your lungs and body with goodness and love. Exhale deeply and visualize all sickness and negativity leaving your lungs and body with the breath.
  • I relax and I let go. Repeat this phrase in rhythm with your breathing and feel the tension release from your body, your emotions and your mind.
  • I let go and I let God ( or use the word – Love).  Continue your path towards relaxation by using this mantra as you breath. Concentrate on the words and imagine all of the day-to-day stuff that you can let go of and turn over to your Higher Power. Begin focusing on your heart center. Imagine a white light glowing in your chest that is warm and full of love. Remember that this heart center is your connection to Higher Power and to the Universe and all of the good is available to you.
  • “I offer myself to my Higher Power.” Become aware of how this surrender affirmation feels and what images you can use to support this affirmation.

2. Dis-identification exercise

  • “I have a body, but I am not my body.  My body may find it self in different conditions of health or sickness; it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my SpiritSelf, my real ‘I.’ My body is my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well; I seek to keep it in good physical condition, but it is not myself. I have a bodybut I am not my body.
  • I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.  These emotions are countless, contradictory, changing, and yet I know that I always remain I, my SpiritSelf, in times of hope or despair, in joy or in pain, in a state of irritation or of calm. Since I can observe, understand, and judge my emotions, and then increasingly dominate, direct, and utilize them, it is evident that they are not myself. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
  • “I have desires, but I am not my desires, aroused by drives, physical and emotional, and by outer influences. Desires too are changeable and contradictory, with alterations of attractions and repulsions. I have desires but they are not myself.
  • “I have a mind, but I am not my mind. It is more or less developed and active; it is undisciplined but teachable; it is an organ of knowledge in regard to the outer world as well as the inner; but it is not my SpiritSelf. Ihave a mind, but I am not my mind.

3. Let’s begin our work with one of our defects. I suggest that you select 1 defect to reflect on in each meditation. You may need to work for a number of meditations on one specific defect to help detach from it. Hold in your mind the defect that you wish to share with your Higher Power in the Sunlight of the Spirit.

  • have (this defect), but I am not (this defect.)  Visualize this defect as separate and detached from you. Repeat this affirmation adding any visualizations or emotions that will help to support this for you.
  • Next let’s work to replace this defective quality with a higher, positive spiritual quality.   You may substitute any word for the spiritual quality or virtue that expresses the opposite of the defect into this affirmation.
    • “I am the “(insert spiritual quality)” of my Higher Power in action.”  Repeat it over and over with in rhythm with your breathing in your meditation. You may wish to add a visualization to accompany the affirmation that reinforces and imprints the energy of the quality within you.  In this way we begin to weed out the defects within our Spiritual Garden and replace them with the fruits and flowers of our virtues.

4. I am a Spiritual Being. Imagine being free of all that is weighing you down emotionally, mentally and physically. I am one with my Higher Power, connected in my heart center, I now rest in this conscious contact and oneness with my Higher Power.

5. End your meditation slowly. Open your eyes and look around the room. Sit quietly for several minutes.

Please do not get discouraged and give up. This is practice. You will think that you are not being very productive, that you are distracted and not doing it right. Persist through this. Be consistent. You will discover the fruits of your meditation over time. The first goal achieved will be emotional balance, , emotional sobriety, a calm within the storm of our thoughts and emotions. Stick with it.

From 11th Step Mediation, The Sixth Step

How 12 Step Groups Work

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“Do you think you have a problem but are not sure what to do about it? Have you tried to quit using by yourself but have been unsuccessful? Are you looking for some support but can’t seem to find any? Well thats what AA, NA and CA are for. AA is short for Alcoholics Anonymous, NA is for Narcotics Anonymous and CA is for Cocaine Anonymous. AA is the most popular of them all, appearing in social media from time to time. The idea that you feel like you won’t fit in or it will be weird is very common for the newcomer but thats all right. In fact, its more than alright! People in these meetings depend on you, thrive on you and care for you. Without you, they lack the inspiration they need to carry on in their sobriety. They make a commitment, when working the steps, that makes it their duty to help you. You will build relationships with these people where you will feel free to open up and know your not being judged. You’ll actually feel accepted. Maybe even find a sense of relief once you realize that your not alone. Twelve step groups come highly recommend and they prove to work at maintaining sobriety. Not convinced? Read below the way step groups work and consider visiting one for yourself.” -Best of luck, Robyn

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You can decide if have an addiction. You can go to a 12 step meeting and hear other people’s stories and decide if there are any similarities between their stories and yours. You can overcome some of your denial about addiction. You see that addiction can affect anybody. Good people, with good jobs, good families, and a sense of humor, can have an addiction. You may know that intellectually, but you need to believe it. Everybody likes to think that they’re special. But addiction is one of those times when it’s comforting to know that you’re not alone.

You meet people who are going through the same thing. The idea behind 12 step groups is that you feel stronger when you belong to a group of people who are doing the same thing. Everybody’s first reaction to addiction is to deal with it on their own. Addiction is an isolating disease. 12 step groups give you the chance to reach out and ask for help.

You believe that recovery is possible. You see that other people have recovered from addiction, and you develop confidence that you can change your life. The people who recovered didn’t do anything special. They just followed the few simple principles of 12 step groups. If you follow those principles, you can recover too.

You learn other people’s recovery techniques. 12 step meetings are a resource. You can ask other people who’ve been in the same boat you’re in how they handled certain situations. You can ask them if what you’re going through is normal. Some days you’ll have an overwhelming urge to use, and it’s good to know that other people have gone through the same thing and how they dealt with it. One of the fears many people have is that their life will be smaller or less interesting without drugs or alcohol. 12 step groups give you a chance to meet people’s whose live are just as interesting and in many cases bigger and more fun now that they’ve stopped using.

You won’t be judged. Most addicts have difficulty sharing their emotions, partly because they’re afraid nobody will understand them, and partly because they’re afraid that they’ll be criticized. So they bottle everything up inside, which makes them want to use even more. The people at a 12 step group won’t judge you because they’ve have heard it all before. They’ve done it all before. They know that you’re not crazy because of the things you do when you’re using. You’re addicted.

You’re reminded of the consequences of using. I can promise you that this will happen. After you’ve been clean and sober for 6 months or 12 months (it usually happens around those times), you’ll feel stronger than you’ve felt in years. That’s when the voice of your addiction will tell you that you can control your use this time. This time will be different. This time you’ll know what to do. 12 step meetings give you the chance to hear the stories of the people who’ve just come into the program, or the stories of the people who’ve relapsed and just come back. They will all tell you the same thing. They all felt they could control their use.

If you could control your use, you would have done it by now. Addiction is a disease like heart disease or diabetes. You would never think that your heart disease is gone once you started to feel better, and that you could eat anything or not exercise without suffering more heart disease. 12 step meetings remind you of that idea.

You have a safe place to go. 12 step meetings are a safe harbor when you want to be out of harm’s way. If you’ve had a bad day you can go to a meeting and spend a couple of hours knowing that you won’t be able to use. By the end of the meeting you’ll almost certainly feel better and more motivated for recovery.

12 step groups are a source of hope, strength, safety, and guidance. (Reference:www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org)

Progress, Not Perfection

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Many of us have a hard time realizing the progress we make in recovery. We often make the mistake of only focusing on the negative outcomes that would occur if we started using again and not the positives that come from never picking up. When we get trapped in the emotions such as fear, we end up getting caught in a black hole of pity. That is no way to live in recovery. We have to remain optimistic and push forward, always reminding ourselves that the future can only get better from here.

Wherever this moment is to you, it was not your rock bottom. Whatever your rock bottom was, even if you didn’t wind up in a jail or an institution, you don’t have to keep at it  until you do. Why go on digging when you can crawl out from this present point? No matter where your life has taken you, it can progress. That is, if you want it to.

As we recover we start to realize how important it is for us to admit complete willingness to the program. Without that drive to let go and let God, to admit our faults and honestly confined in one another, progress may never come. When we can learn to heal ourselves on the inside, we will start to notice our external worries fade away. Opportunities will arise and dreams that were once lost can come true. So long as we trust in our decisions now and know that they will lead to fulfillment in the future, we can do anything we set our mind to.

A mistake we may make is pushing towards a goal that is too big for us while we are in recovery. We have to remember to take it one step at a time and that progress is not perfection. With everyday we can work slow and steady towards our goals, never letting ourselves spin out of control with those thoughts that make us feel so worthless, when we just can’t see how much we have already achieved. Our growth is like that of a tree. We gain strength, build a  a strong and stable trunk (or mind) so we can branch out with courage when we reach out for help and to help. We will progress and we can succeed. The sky is the limit.

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The other day at a meeting, a young man had expressed he was struggling with temptations after 90 days of sobriety. He was scared. He was so afraid of what that would mean for him. His thoughts warped around ideas of disappointment and failure as a father and husband. I turned to him and told him what I mentioned above about the positives of sobriety. Another woman chirped in and said, “As far as I can tell, you won.” The man and I looked at her, he chuckled and smiled saying, “I guess I did.” He won because, just for today, he didn’t pick up. He was able to surf the wave of cravings and just say no. He did it, and so can you and I.

We don’t have to be idles of AA, NA or CA but we can set an example by following the steps and recognizing our achievements. Even the little things– like not picking up today, going to work or having an honest relationship with a friend or significant other–  can open our awareness, allowing us to express gratitude and pride in our recovery.

– Love and light, Robyn 

For the Sponsee

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What is a sponsor and why do I need one?

Sponsors are people who have worked through the Twelve Steps and are available to help others in their recovery. If you want to work the steps as outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, a sponsor can offer guidance based on their personal experience. However, it is important to mention that your recovery does not depend on having a sponsor. This program will take you on a personal spiritual path, and sponsors are merely messengers of the experience, strength, and hope that this program offers. Several people from this meeting filled out questionnaires regarding the challenges and benefits of being sponsored. This fact sheet is a compilation of their wisdom and suggestions.

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Why is it important to get a sponsor?

While the book Alcoholics Anonymous provides a description of how to work the Twelve Steps, a sponsor can offer specific assignments that help the process along. Moreover, a sponsor’s personal experience can assist us to confront problems, and move through them to change and growth.

“Working with a sponsor forces me to be honest, gives me insight into the disease and its manifestation in my life, opens me to new ideas, protects me from isolating, and helps me see the reality of who I am and what is going on in my life.”

“Life has taught me that together people are able to make more progress than as individuals.”

How do you chose someone to be your sponsor?

Available sponsors usually identify themselves during the introduction part of a meeting. These people are open to talking with you about working the Twelve Step program of recovery during the break or after the meeting, and are also available to call. Names and phone numbers of sponsors can be found on the “We Care” list passed around during the meeting and are identified with a symbol. In choosing a sponsor, we suggest not focusing on who you immediately like or who makes you feel comfortable. Rather, choose someone whose recovery you admire, and who you sense can really help you recover. Sometimes this is a person who makes you feel somewhat uncomfortable!

“I wanted a sponsor who knew the illness very well, and who would not be afraid to confront it whenever and however it might arise.”

“She [my sponsor] had a serenity that I wanted.”

How do you know when your ready to be sponsored?

You are ready to be sponsored when you have recognized a desperate need for help and a willingness to go to any lengths to recover. A prospective sponsor will suggest that you read the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and may make other suggestions for you to follow before you both decide whether to work together.

“What they don’t mention in this article is the idea of a temporary sponsor. This is a common title that is used for those people that don’t require you to make a long-term commitment. Temporary sponsors can be used while your looking for just the right person, are moving or will be leaving rehab soon, or just to give the 12 steps a try to see if it something for you. Make sure to pay attention in the beginning of the meeting when people who are available with sponsorship (1 year or more) will raise there hand. Don’t be afraid to approach them and make sure you contact them at least once a day— even if just to tell them your alive!” -Any questions or comments? Leave it below! Love, Robyn

Your Recovery Checklist

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“I will be using this great checklist I found from addictionandrecovery.org to inspire the rest of this weeks post. Checkout how far you’ve gotten in your recovery and how much further you can take it down the road.” -Shanti, Robyn

A list of important goals for the first year of your recovery. Use it as a reminder and to help you stay on track in the days and months ahead.

🔹Accept that you have an addiction
🔹Practice honesty in your life
🔹Learn to avoid high-risk situations
🔹Ask for help
🔹Practice calling friends before you have cravings
🔹Become actively involved in self-help recovery groups
🔹Go to discussion meetings and begin to share
🔹Get a sponsor and do step work
🔹Get rid of using friends
🔹Make time for you and your recovery
🔹Celebrate your small victories.
🔹Recovery is about progress not perfection.
🔹Practice saying no
🔹Take better care of yourself
🔹Develop healthy eating and sleeping habits
🔹Learn to relax and let go of stress
🔹Discover how to have fun clean and sober
🔹Make new recovery friends and bring them into your life.
🔹“Play the tape forward” to deal with cravings
🔹Find ways to distract yourself when you have cravings
🔹Deal with post-acute withdrawal symptoms
🔹Develop a strategy for social settings where drinking is involved
🔹Thank the supportive people in your life.
🔹Develop tolerance and compassion for yourself and others
🔹Say goodbye to your addiction
🔹See yourself as a non-user

Must Read: Sane- Mental Illness, Addiction, and the Twelve Steps by Marya Hornbacher

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“This is my next ‘must read’ book. I haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet, but I have read Madness and it was one of the most relatable and amazingly written books I have ever read. For those of you suffering with Bipolar disorder, thats the book for you. Those of you suffering with eating disorders, her first book Wasted is one you should look into. This one however, seems like a great novel for all addicts, focusing on co-occurring disorders and working the 12 steps!” – Much Love, Robyn

Sane

Marya Hornbacher, author of the international best sellers Madness and Wasted, offers an enlightening examination of the Twelve Steps for those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.

In this beautifully written recovery handbook, New York Times best-selling author Marya Hornbacher applies the wisdom earned from her struggle with a severe mental illness and addiction to offer an honest and illuminating examination of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.

Relaying her recovery experiences, and those of the people with whom she has shared her journey, Hornbacher guides readers through the maze of special issues that make working each Step a unique challenge for those with co-occurring disorders.

She addresses the difficulty that many with a mental illness have with finding support in a recovery program that often discourages talk about emotional problems, and the therapy and medication that they require. At the same time, Hornbacher reveals how the Twelve Steps can offer insights, spiritual sustenance, and practical guidance to enhance stability for those who truly have to approach sanity and sobriety one day at a time.

““The difference between now and the years when I lived in chaos is that I now have the knowledge, the tools, and the support to handle any kind of challenge, any kind of change.” Hornbacher (Madness) writes with honesty, empathy, and personal experience as someone with Bipolar Disorder who has struggled with addiction. She explores the meaning of the Twelve Steps in daily life to someone struggling with addiction, mental illness, or both. From perceptions of addicts (“that we can, by force of will, gain control over the substance to which we’re addicted, and that our failure to do that is simply more proof that we are failures as people”) to the “God problem” of the Twelve Steps, Hornbacher reaches out to readers in a clear, surprisingly lyrical voice that seeks to understand, assist, and explain. The Steps, she argues, “help us through the difficult passages, and they teach us to take joy in the discoveries we make as we go. What I am discovering as I work and rework the Steps over time is that there is no end to this journey.” For anyone seeking to understand or conquer addiction, her book will be a valuable guide and pocket mentor.”

— Publisher’s Weekly

Online NA Meetings

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I wanted to make a post about NA online meetings because during some time of isolation I noticed my anxiety soar in social settings. This made my “90 in 90” seem unbearable– but not impossible! With online meetings that are hosted daily, you can go over the principles, review the steps and get support all in the comfort of your own home! Plus the chatrooms are always open. So if your having a hard time picking up the phone or are stuck at work, just visit the chatrooms and someone will be there to comfort you. Anywhere you are in the world, you will never be alone. The farthest distance I traveled through my screen was Africa, but this man had the same issues as you and me: Addiction. Check out http://na-recovery.org for more information on online meetings, guidelines and times. You can even consider doing service work for the site once you get a hang of it (and with enough clean-time) by chairing the meetings. Below is a summary of Na-Recovery.orgs purpose… Peace and Love, Robyn”

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Our primary purpose is to carry a message to the still-suffering addict. NA-Recovery.org is a community of addicts, working together to share our experience, strength, and hope to stay clean, Just for Today. Our chat roomis open 24/7. If there isn’t anyone chatting at the moment, someone will be by shortly. Our members come together to carry a message that an addict, any addict, can stop using, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live. We can help people find local meetings, Narcotics Anonymous literature, and local helplines.

In addition to providing links to face to face meetings and resources for addicts, our chatroom also hostsOnline meetings at Ten (10) PM Eastern Standard Time. We have a variety of meeting formats, and all topics are also open for attendees to share on whatever is affecting their recovery today.

The members of our online Narcotics Anonymous Group also participate on our NA forum to share their experience strength and hope with other addicts in recovery. We also have blogs for addicts to participate on; sharing their experience with life in recovery. You can make your own blog and share it with your friends, the public at large, or just with yourself.

Yoga for the 12 Steps

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That right! Through the practice of yoga, many people have been able to strengthen not only physically but spiritually and mentally in their recovery. There are a lot of great programs out there for recovering addicts that want to integrate practice with working the steps found in AA/NA/CA. Yoganonymous and Yoga for 12 Step Recovery are both great resources to find specific teachers and classes that use the 12 steps as a guide through yogic exercise. You can look for meetings on there websites and learn more through their intensive programs too!