Dr. Dawn’s Rx

Hey Everyone! I get to write to you about alcoholism, addiction and recovery every week for a while. I hope you will write back, comment, share experience, strength and hope, ask questions and most of all get something helpful from my column, Dr. Dawn’s Rx.   I am a medical doctor but any advice I give is not intended to be “official”. I cannot diagnose or treat from this column and I encourage every addict who needs medical care to find a doctor who knows something about addiction and recovery…or is willing to learn. I will respond to inquiries from docs and other health care professionals as well as from the general audience of addicts, their families and friends, and anyone interested in the subject.

One of my favorite topics is steps and one of my favorite bumper stickers says, “Work the Steps or Die.” The foundation of our program is the 12 steps. Bill W., one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, the original 12-step program, worked them all in about 48 hours.

The quote, “If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps,” says it perfectly. If you are not ready, keep coming back until you are.

Today many sponsors seem to want their sponsees to write out each step, sometimes using special aids like formats, workbooks and fill-in-the-blanks sheets. Some even want the new person to write their story…great, but not a step. Consider postponing this until AFTER doing the steps, in order, as an alternative…one that is suggested in our literature. Taking many days, weeks, even months to do each step is a luxury some cannot afford. If the addict is able to stay clean for that long, and seems to be doing a minimum of damage to himself and those around him, taking lots of time may not do too much harm, but some will not be able to tolerate the discomfort of being clean and NOT doing steps. There are those, of course, who never do the steps at all and manage to stop drinking and using. Those who do this may find that they remain unhappy and continue to create havoc and chaos in their lives, usually persisting in harboring anger and resentment. Some simply switch to another addiction: work, sex, food, shopping, etc.  They are cutting themselves out of the pain relief and new way of life found by doing the steps.

My concern is for those addicts who cannot stay clean long enough to do elaborately detailed and drawn out step work. If given a chance to power through the steps in very early recovery, as in the first days or weeks, they usually find at least a little reprieve. Relief from self-hatred and the need to cover painful feelings with drugs can buy them time to immerse further in recovery, repeating the steps at a later stage if appropriate. It is our job as alcoholics and addicts with solid, step-based recovery to teach newcomers to do the work. Sponsors can urge immediate step work for a sponsee who has decided he or she wants what we have.

Everyone in a meeting can welcome every newcomer, expressing love and acceptance along with letting them know that there are certain things they must do to get recovery and keep it.

White-knuckling works for some, but others need to move rapidly through the steps to stay clean!

Take what you can use and leave the rest. See ya’ next week,

Blessings and Hugs,

Dr. Dawn

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