The First Few Steps: Only the Beginning of Our Journey

 

Some of us come to treatment looking to simply stop using drugs or drinking. But many of us come into treatment looking for a new way of life. Regardless, while in treatment, we learn that we cannot stop using or find a new way of life “on the outside” without some sort of guidance and support.

   The core of any 12-step fellowship is the 12 Steps themselves. As Narcotics Anonymous literature states, "these are the principles that made our recovery possible."  While 12-step fellowships do provide us with listening ears, kindred spirits, and a new way to have fun, without the the 12 Steps we would not have a roadmap to improve our lives, a path we are told that will help us to lose the obsession to use if we remain steadfast and not stray from their guiding principles. Through working and practicing the 12 Steps with our sponsor, we learn that if we are honest with ourselves and others, open minded and willing, we can lose the self-centered obsession and compulsion to use or drink.

   But the Steps do not stop at only removing the self-centered nature of our disease. The first few powerful steps are only the beginning; subsequent steps free us to become who we truly are and find our ultimate purpose in life: to love and help others. They teach us how to become a better person while “not regret[ting] the past nor wish[ing] to shut the door on it,” as penned in Alcoholics Anonymous literature. Through personal inventories, self-examinations and amending our wrongs, we eventually arrive at a place of acceptance with ourselves and others and we can take full ownership of our actions without wishing to repeat them.

   However, the work does not stop once we have worked the Steps once through. We continue to work through them throughout our lives so that more can be revealed. Each time working through the Steps, we uncover new developments in ourselves that we may not have seen the first time through, or that may have surfaced since coming into recovery. With each new step that we take in this journey of self-discovery, the closer we come to truly achieving self-acceptance and inner peace.

   Ultimately, we discover that we do not face the manifest of the disease of addiction with the same fear that brought us initially to recovery, but, rather, that we are able to see it for what it is and that we can also help others that are affected. It can be embodied through service to and love of others. We discover lessons learned from ill-gotten decisions and actions that once plagued us and learn to live a new way or life, how to help others, and become invaluable members of our respected fellowships through service.

   As we are told in 12-step fellowships, “we can only keep what we have by giving it away.” If we do not share with others what was freely given to us, we will surely lose it. As we gain experience in our 12-step programs, we learn that we, too, have something to give back to others still suffering: our experience, strength and hope. Through our experiences in recovery, we gain perspectives that can help others who are struggling, if they have the courage and humility to ask for help. Through our perseverance and diligence, we give rise to hope and inspire others to remain steadfast and strong while continuing on their personal never-ending road to recovery.

   Recovery is available freely to us all … the first few steps are only the beginning.

 

- Anonymous

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Join the Voices for Recovery

Join the Voices for Recovery

 

“True love is a love of giving, not receiving”

- Dr. Abraham Twerski

 

    Each year, the month of September is designated as National Recovery Month and this year the theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities.”  The 2017 theme highlights the value of family and community support throughout recovery and invites individuals in recovery and their family members to share their personal stories and successes to encourage others, as well as educate the public about treatment, how it works, for whom, and why. Because these successes often go unnoticed by the general public, these personal stories become the Voices for Recovery.

    Those of us in recovery all know that recovery doesn’t happen alone in a vacuum.   Our disease wants us to shut others out and suffer in silence, only taking from and using others when it serves our selfish purposes.  But we learn rather quickly to welcome, appreciate and value family members and others in our community that were initially and still are supportive of our recovery.  Without our families, churches, judges, therapists, first responders, nurses, doctors and all those who gave us a chance and still lend us a hand, we would still be selfishly silent and not a voice of recovery. 

    Ultimately, we can only keep what we have by giving it away. If we keep selfishly this precious gift of recovery to ourselves, we are certain to lose it.  Recovery is not meant to be inconsiderately kept in a vault, never to be shared; instead, we need to share it freely with others and allow others to share theirs with us.  Ultimately, we need each other – all those who have gone before us and showed us the way, and those who are still struggling and want what we have. We even need those who don’t share our disease of addiction, but love us and want to help make our lives worth living.

    As part of National Recovery Month, the City of Pittsburgh will be holding its second annual Pittsburgh Recovery Walk on September 16.  The Pittsburgh Recovery Walk celebrates the many roads to recovery from addiction and all those who have traveled them. It aims to dispel negative stigma and recognize recovery as a positive force in our community. 

    Likewise, the Gateway Rehab Recovery Community allows all those who have been affected by addiction in one form or another to associate with others to gain support and encouragement, celebrate recovery, and give something back. This Gateway Recovery Community is open to those in recovery, family members and loved ones, friends, treatment professionals, and anyone else who is concerned with or has been affected by addiction. 

    During the Pittsburgh Recovery Walk on September 16, we will have a Gateway Rehab Recovery Community team and would love for you to join us. Registration is free and not only will you receive a Pittsburgh Recovery Walk t-shirt, but you will also get a Gateway Rehab giveaway for joining our team. 

    The Pittsburgh Recovery Walk will be a day to set aside the pain associated with addiction and simply celebrate recovery in all of its forms.  Please consider joining us and walking with the Gateway Rehab Recovery Community. All of us, then, can become Voices for Recovery, bringing addiction out of the shadows, celebrating life and strengthening our community. 

 

 

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The Roads to Recovery ... A Lifelong Process of Discovery Available to Us All

When first entering rehab, a lot of us think that we just have a drug or alcohol problem but we soon hear from others in recovery and realize that, “drugs or alcohol are only 10 percent of the problem, the rest is you.”

     Recovery from addiction involves the healing of all dimensions of ourselves, not only the physical but, also, the intellectual, emotional, social, vocational and spiritual dimensions of ourselves. Involving an improvement in self-awareness and self-image, we realize and accept gradually that recovery is a lifelong process of restoring ourselves to better health.

     But, while this may sound easy, recovery doesn’t happen overnight and for many of us, it is a tall order. As the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text says: “This sounds like a big order and we can’t do it all at once. We didn’t become addicted in one day, so, remember, easy does it.”

     A simple comparison could be restoring one’s self to health to that of restoring an abandoned house to a livable condition, a process that definitely doesn’t happen overnight. It takes the right tools and resources. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes effort.

     Likewise, recovery takes patience, empathy, forgiveness and compassion. It takes honesty, open mindedness and willingness. It takes loving and accepting one’s self unconditionally. And, it takes dedication and perseverance – not giving up, no matter what, even if one stumbles and falls once, twice or even multiple times.

     Moreover, just like a house, which needs constant upkeep and maintenance, so does our recovery. Without constant attention, our recovery can stagnate and our foundation can crumble and collapse. In other words, “if you’re not working on your recovery, you’re working on a relapse.”

     But, while this process may seem daunting, we learn early in recovery that help and support are readily available.

     Our family and loved ones can be great supporters of our recovery, but sometimes they might not understand this lifelong process of recovery. So, in addition to family and loved ones, 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, can provide a collective strength, encouragement and hope to those in recovery.

     By hearing and sharing life experiences with each other, recovering addicts and alcoholics can learn how to handle life on life’s terms without using. Additionally, 12-step programs provide the opportunity to build new and healthy relationships; to learn new and change behaviors through self-examination and the practice of guiding principles, and; to serve and help others in recovery.

     However, because we all came to a life of recovery differently, and all are unique in our own ways, recovery can never be quite the same for one another – no one way to recover is better than another. And, because it is lifelong requiring constant attention and maintenance, it’s not a race, nor do we ever graduate.

     Ultimately, recovery is a personal, lifelong journey of fulfillment and purpose – discovering a renewed sense of value, purpose and self-awareness. It is available to us all as long as we first have the humility and courage to ask for help, and then stay the course by being true to form – true to others and ourselves.

 

- Anonymous

 

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