In my observation, nearly every individual in addiction recovery has either heard of or experienced the 12-step groups or the 12-step curriculum. Some recovering addicts swear by 12-step practices and principles and other addicts convulse at the thought of attending a 12-step group meeting to share their feelings with a bunch of addicted strangers. I feel that I have a rather unique perspective on the 12-step model because while I don't actively participate in every principle and policy they suggest, I have developed a deep respect and admiration for the community as a whole and what they represent.
Relationships - Debunking Addiction
As a recovering addict, I have been fortunate enough to encounter many methods of recovery, including but not limited to the 12-step group for sex addiction. I first found my way to the most common group options like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and eventually, I discovered the variety of sex addiction-related 12-step groups available. After spending plenty of time in the 12-step group world, I can honestly say that I'm abundantly grateful for the recovery work they do within the community. However, I cannot give 12-step groups all the credit in regards to my recovery experience and maintaining sobriety.
I spent most of my time in active addiction fearful of what others would think about me; but when I slowly began to open up about my sex addiction, I was incredibly surprised by the reactions I received from people. Some individuals pleasantly surprised me with their love and support, others made me feel like a piece of garbage, and a few of them completely creeped me out. Nonetheless, I am grateful I finally spoke up about my sex addiction, because I know now that the reactions from other people (even people I love) don't get to define me.
“I just want to be normal. I don’t know what it’s like,” cried a tear-soaked heroin addict during a tough-love intervention. Her cry came after about 15 minutes of being yelled at, belittled, and degraded in front of 1000 viewers, all in the name of tough love. My heart broke into pieces for her because I’ve been that woman. I wanted to reach through my screen, hug her and tell her how precious she is. Tough love for addicts doesn't work.
Setting or maintaining boundaries with family and friends may be difficult if you are in recovery from addiction. The difficulty of setting limitations with others is a natural thing to experience in recovery because when you were in active addiction it’s likely that your boundaries were severely blurred or even nonexistent. The lack of boundaries in your life at the time may have led to manipulation, abuse, allowing others to take advantage of you and put you in harm’s way. It also leads to codependency in relationships, which likely fed your addiction and kept it active. But now you are in recovery, and it’s time to learn that setting and maintaining boundaries is essential to your recovery.
Do you fear addiction recovery? During my active addiction, I feared everything. Fear was the driving emotion in my life. I was afraid of an unknown future and was most afraid of becoming sober. I'd become comfortable in my mess and just the thought of anything different frightened me. The fear of addiction recovery hid itself in my untruths.
Sponsorship during addiction recovery is one of the tenets of 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Many who have gotten, and remained, clean and sober have done so with the help of a sponsor guiding them through the process of recovery. While it has proven to be an effective tool in 12-step circles, some wonder whether sponsorship in addiction recovery is really an important element.
If you are caring for an addict – someone who has a drug or alcohol problem – then you know that taking care of the addict while still taking care of yourself isn’t easy. Addiction is not a spectator sport; it drags everyone around the addict into the game. Addiction tears families apart, causing such chaos and turmoil that it may seem like things can never get better. If you are a family member or loved one of an addict, you likely experience a mix of emotions when it comes to the one who is using drugs or alcohol – love, hate, pity, disgust, hopelessness, despair. It may feel like your life is not your own, that it revolves around the addiction, and it probably does right now. But, there are some things that you can do to restore some balance to your life even though you are caring for an addict while still taking care of yourself.
Forgiveness in my addiction recovery is important for my emotional and spiritual health. Addiction recovery takes much more than just going through the treatment process to become whole again, but it did provide me with the tools necessary to live a life that is free of alcohol. When I completed treatment four-and-a-half years ago, I had to put those tools to work and still have to remain vigilant to keep my recovery alive and successful. In treatment, I learned about addiction, triggers, relapse prevention, and the need for honesty, acceptance, and gratitude. However, there was another key element that has furthered my addiction recovery progress even more – forgiveness.
Improving sobriety by healing resentments is the ultimate goal of revisiting painful memories. When we have successfully navigated our memories and emotions, we have the opportunity to let them go so that they no longer harm us. In order for old resentments to no longer hold power over us, we have to choose to forgive ourselves and the other person. You can heal resentments to improve your sobriety.