Addiction recovery plan
4- Addiction Recovery Plan
This page describes the general addiction recovery plan common to all 12 Step programs. It is designed to help you see how following the actions suggested in each Step can bring about change and lead to a serene life free from addiction.
- Foundation Steps
- Action Steps
- Maintenance & Growth Steps
Fundamentally, the addiction recovery plan for all 12 Step programs follows the same pattern, whether you are addicted to a substance or a behavior. This is because the Steps focus on individuals and how they think and why they turn to drugs or compulsive behaviors. As far as 12 Step programs are concerned, the problematic substance or behavior is merely a symptom of the disease of addiction.
It is important to work the Steps in the order that they are presented. In this way we lay down the vital building blocks on which recovery is based. We need the working knowledge of one Step to realize its purpose and gain the required incentive to work the following Step. Look at the 12 Steps as the tools you are using to build a new home, a new life where you shall live free of addiction and in peace and serenity with yourself, others, and your God.
All 12 Step programs follow the same addiction recovery plan: first the problem is described, then the solution is offered, followed by a course of action necessary to produce recovery and – most importantly — to maintain daily recovery.
Foundation Steps: (1 & 2)
The first two Steps are the foundations on which our new life in recovery is built and are essential as we proceed on to the other Steps. Without a firm grounding in Steps 1 and 2, we would be lost as to why we should do what the program suggests. Steps 1 and 2 do not require any action on our part, but they do require a change in our belief system, which is essential if we hope to recover through this spiritual program. We first have to accept that we are suffering from a disease, and second, that there is a Power greater than ourselves who can help us recover.
Step 1: Identifies the Problem
- Step 1 provides the facts about the nature of our problem. By working Step 1, we can come out of denial and accept we are suffering from a disease that has affected us mentally and physically and over which we have lost control. This is the fundamental aim of Step 1 and a fact we have come to grips with. It is a choice each one of us has to make, for no one can convince another that they have a problem. Your choice is whether you want to stay in denial, while also continuing to believe you are a bad person, a weak person. Or you can face facts and accept you are suffering from a disease. The experience of those of us in recovery is that once we surrender to the truth that we have a disease over which we are powerless, then the burden of trying to solve – all by ourselves — our problem is lifted. We don’t need to hide in shame and guilt anymore. We see our condition for what it is, and realize there is a Power greater than us who can lift this burden and help us recover.
- In Step 1 of any 12 Step program, it is imperative to gain an understanding of your particular addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc. For example, drug addicts must finally acknowledge they have lost power over their drug use and how their lives have become unmanageable. The same principles apply to behavior addictions, although it is not as straightforward as with substances. With behavioral addictions the nature and extent of the problem depends on how it has impacted one’s life. For example, the problem for food addicts may be overeating or starving themselves. That person has to identify and accept how their eating habits have become a major problem, and how as a result their lives are in havoc. The same principle applies to sex, work, gambling, co-dependency, etc., in which the person first needs to acknowledge and accept the nature of their particular problem and understand why their life has been made unmanageable as the result.
- What is important in any Step 1 is the understanding that we are suffering from a disease regardless of how that disease is manifesting itself in our life. It is the acknowledgement and acceptance of this truth that will help to motivate us to look for a solution outside ourselves.
- There are many of us who suffer from multiple forms of addictions. This is not surprising when we know the root of this disease is within ourselves and that it can show itself in various self-destructive ways. If that is the case, we need to work Step 1 on each of our addictions for the necessary knowledge and acceptance to work the rest of the Steps.
Step 2: Offers the Solution
- Step 2 offers the solution to our disease of addiction. Whereas Step 1 may be hard to swallow because we have to admit we have a disease over which we are powerless, Step 2 offers hope. There is a way out, and we can recover.
- Step 2 presents the solution in the form of a Power greater than ourselves. It follows logically that if we don’t have the power to help ourselves, then we must look elsewhere for that power. All we need to make a start is the courage and humility to accept we are not god, that our ways have not worked, and that we now need a Power greater than ourselves to help us. This is the essence of Step 2.
- The agnostic or atheist among us need not worry about being left out, for the solution to our problem is spiritual, not religious. Our God can be whatever we may choose him or her or it to be. We need only open our heart to the possibility of a God and sincerely ask for help. Our God always shows himself through one medium or another — be it the power of a fellowship group, the comradeship and support we find from others in recovery, in nature, etc. Neither does our understanding of our God have to come all at once. Like our recovery from addiction, which is a process, our understanding of our God is also a journey. As we progress in recovery and are able to put more faith and trust in Him, we grow in our understanding of our Higher Power.
- What is pivotal as we embark on our new way of life in recovery is our willingness to change our belief system. We need to realize self-reliance failed when it came to stopping our addiction. In other words, we need to quit playing god and gain the humility to accept we need a Power outside ourselves for help. This will happen more easily than we might think, if we have worked an honest Step 1 and have faced the truth about our disease.
- It is this new belief in a God of our understanding — and reliance on Him — that will lift our obsession with our addiction, for ultimately it has been our obsession that has been at the root of our problem. It is also the belief and reliance on a God of our understanding that will give us the power to work the rest of the Steps. And we will surely need it, for from here on a course of vigorous action starts.
Action Steps: (3 to 9 – Actions to recover)
- Steps 3 to 9 are called action Steps because, unlike Steps 1 and 2 that are simply principles that we need to abide by, these are the actual actions we need to take in order to recover.
- Having learned about the nature of our problem in Step 1 and belief in our God in Step 2 for a solution, we are prepared for the actions called for in Steps 3 to 9. The foundation of these action Steps is based on the fact that as addicts we are suffering from the disease of self. Our lack of inner resources of value and esteem has led us to rely on substances or behaviors to feel good about ourselves. But as a result of these destructive mechanisms, we have ultimately harmed others and ourselves. In 12 Step programs our addictive nature is identified as self-will run riot — this is the root of our problem. For this reason, Steps 3 to 9 provide us with the tools to rectify the damage of our past so that we can start anew as whole human beings.
- These Steps are like mortar and bricks for building a new life. You want your new life to be free of resentment, fear, guilt, and shame — all the things that kept us acting out on our addiction. These Steps show us how to clean up the debris of the past, so our new home can become clean free from addiction.
Maintenance & Growth Steps: (10 to 12 – Actions to maintain & grow in recovery)
- Steps 10 to 12 are the actions we need to take on a daily basis to maintain our recovery and to grow in our conscious contact with our God.
- We have recovered from a diseased state of mind and body (Steps 1 & 2); and we have repaired our past and are living free of shame (Steps 3 to 9). But how do we ensure that we do not lose ground? How do we hold on to what we have so far achieved? These are the aims of Steps 10 to 12, to provide us with the tools to maintain our recovery, while also living in harmony with others, our God and ourselves.
- Since we are never cured of our disease of addiction, Steps 10 to 12 spell out what to do on a daily basis to keep our new home – our new way of life clean.
- Step 10 sums up in a simple way – a way that we can practice daily — the lessons of Steps 3 to 9. It is the Step we practice to maintain the life we have built in recovery – the new home we have built for our self — and keep it from falling apart.
- Step 11 is about making our new life peaceful and serene. By practicing this Step we deepen our conscious contact with our God through prayer and meditation. We discover the true relationship he wants with us and realize the beautiful plans he has in store.
- Step 12 is about inviting others into our new life – into our new home — those still suffering this deadly disease, those who are lost and hopeless. We show them how they too can be free of the pain of addiction by working the 12 Steps. We carry the message of recovery. As they say in 12 Step fellowships, we keep our sobriety by giving it away.
We entered the program as hopeless addicts, most of us at death’s door, with no wish but to stop our addiction. The miracle of this program is that it offers us not only the means to recover, but also a way of life beyond our wildest dreams. Many of us in recovery often express gratitude for our disease of addiction because ultimately, it led us to 12 Step programs, which showed us how to live a life in true peace and harmony.