How does the process of recovery begin and work in any 12-step fellowship? This is a common question to those new to recovery and the families of those affected by the disease of addiction, which many see as a seemingly hopeless state of mind, body and spirit.
Recovery can be defined as abstinence from all mood-altering substances plus a change in attitudes and behaviors. It is written in 12-step literature that a daily reprieve from using drugs or alcohol is dependent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. So, how do we begin to change our attitudes and behaviors, as well as evolve and maintain our spiritual condition?
A solid foundation is the basis for constructing anything stable and sound, and this is no different to begin the process of recovery using the 12 Steps. Three spiritual principles – honesty, open mindedness and willingness – are indispensable to begin the process and with these, “we are well on our way.” These three spiritual principals form what’s known as the “HOW” of the program: Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness.
A profound sense of honesty begins the journey of working the 12 Steps. As we begin on this journey, we must first get honest with ourselves and admit that we are powerless over drugs and alcohol. In so doing, we gain the power to incorporate a new sense of honesty with others, as well, and we can consider asking for and accepting their help. The WE, as it is mentioned in the first step, suggests that we are not alone and don’t have to go through anything alone ever again.
Beginning to believe that there is a way out of the madness of addiction by being open-minded to receiving the help of others and a power greater than ourselves is paramount to the recovery process. Open-mindedness in step two leads us to accepting the self-centered nature of our disease and humbling ourselves to ask for and seek the help of others, as well as a power greater than ourselves, whatever this may be. When we are open-minded to a power greater than ourselves relieving us from the insanity of the disease, we receive hope and begin to believe that changing and doing things differently can lead us away from the painful past we had once experienced.
Our surrender deepens in step three as we become willing to let go of our self-centered nature and actions to experience the care and will of our higher power. To some, this step may be difficult or complicated; for others, it may not. Regardless, working with our sponsors, we all come to a personal understanding of this step and become willing to continue working the Steps to better ourselves and our spiritual condition. The willingness practiced in this step can provide us with the willingness to handle many other and different aspects of our lives successfully, without using drugs or alcohol.
The indispensable truths of the HOW of the program lay the foundation for our recovery and a life that is spiritually focused. Working the first three steps is key to begin living a life worth living.