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. Continue reading
Continuing Personal Inventory
We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Pg 84 in the AA Big Book says, “This thought brings us to Step Ten.” What thought? The thought that the promises of recovery will ALWAYS materialize IF we work for them.
I have often said, to my patients as well as in my writings, there are two parts of recovery that require our attention:
- getting clean.
- staying clean.
Anyone can get clean; staying clean is another matter. Continue reading
Make Direct Amends
“We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” So reads step nine in over one hundred 12 step programs.
Some amends (the word means changes) are obvious. The cash register honesty stuff is pretty straightforward: you took it; now, in recovery, return it.
Example: A doctor friend of mine stole a piece of equipment from another doctor. Continue reading
Almost Mud Season and still snowing! (If you are reading this after the mountain closes, you can still get the point). Skiers and boarders will soon be shaking and fidgeting, hyperventilating as they grieve the end of the season. As I write this, they have a few more days of new snow to soothe their soon-to-be-frazzled nerves. Get as much of it as you can and prepare for abstinence, for the harsh and abrupt end of daily use. Sounds like drug withdrawal to me: one last high before enforced quitting. Continue reading
Willing To Make Amends
Step eight in 12 step programs, AA, NA, Alanon and over one hundred others, says, “We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”
“Harmed? Who have I harmed? Not me. I have never done anything to anyone, well, never physically hurt anybody. I don’t hit, push, bite or fight. And I never do anything mean; well, except when they do it first. I don’t shout or name-call; well, not usually, except maybe that time…but I was angry, so it doesn’t count; besides he deserved it. Well, yes, I had a glass or two of wine when he made me so mad I… but that had nothing to do with it. Alcohol never affects me and I’m always in complete control. It’s entirely his fault.”
Sound like it might apply, at least a little, to you, echoing your thoughts? Sometimes we are unaware of the harm we do and it is not until later, perhaps at a more selfless time, that we understand how deeply what we do affects others. We human beings are very good at justification, retaliation and denial.
Is there any chance you have ever done anything unkind, maybe even harmful to family? Parents, siblings, spouse, children? Few normal human beings could honestly respond in the negative. How about extended family? Friends? Coworkers, neighbors, strangers, anyone else? Ever behave rudely in traffic, in line in a store or anywhere else you are somewhat anonymous?
Could you be one of the many people who put on a façade for the public? Are you not only dressed perfectly, every hair in place when you are away from home, but also pretending, wearing the, “I am perfect and so is all in my life” mask? Do you save your biting comments, negativity, and controlling, passive-aggressive and vicious side for family? Would you treat your loved ones the same way if your neighbor, coworkers or friends were watching? Would you change anything about the tone of voice, the level of compassion or attitude if your neighbors or parents of your children’s friends were listening? Rethink how you treat those closest to you, as they are the ones we usually hurt the most.
Of course, there are outright harms to consider: theft, cheating, dishonesty, and so on. Even if it is the fault of a cashier, accepting more change than you are due is dishonest, comparable to stealing. Small lies are still lies. Do you justify this type of behavior?
Little omissions can also be damaging: not acknowledging someone’s existence, either in person or by not returning a call, snubs and rejections of any kind. All of this behavior harms the person committing the act (you) as well as the victim, but you, of course, have a rationalization for everything you do.
If you should decide that there is a chance you have done something that hurt another human being, and you are willing to ‘fess up, deal with it and change yourself, then you are ready for this step. If you persist in believing you have never hurt anyone, go back to and through steps one through seven, special emphasis on step four. The cool thing is that the word, “amend” means “make changes, corrections, or improvements.” Since no human being can see himself clearly, this, like all the steps, requires coaching from someone who has done this and the preceding steps. Such a person, called a sponsor or mentor, can be found in twelve step meetings of any kind and often among professionals such as therapists, counselors, recovery coaches and consultants. Find someone who has done this step and with whom you are willing and able to work; make your list. There is no point in postponing this step; harm that was done remains until dealt with. Please note that step eight says, “…became willing.” It does not say that we actually MADE the amend, just that we became willing. Specifics on how, when and where to actually make the amend comes in step nine.