GIVE TIME TIME, Give the change a chance to happen! – Addiction in theFamily

Chains of change Addiction

 

From the book

Addiction: Am I Powerless? by Emmanuel S. John

(Available on this site)

Limbic Change Takes Time

Once the powerless individual or addict knows and comprehends the truth, once the false beliefs are uncovered and the survival lies exposed there is a time delay between how the limbic system functions (how it responds to stress) and what the rational centers of the brain can control and override.

The delay in a “change of reaction” can take anywhere from a couple of months to several years.  It is a matter of reconditioning yourself to react to stress differently; to respond in healthier ways when confronted by uncomfortable moods and emotions.  It takes time and effort to retrain your brain into a positive and productive mode of reaction and response but it will happen if you make a commitment to practice different behaviors.

Right thinking will return if you have the opportunity to challenge the false beliefs and traumatic experiences in a safe environment.  This risk must be taken none the less; there are no alternatives to working through the problems that have been avoided for so long.  You may experience fear and feelings of uneasiness, but once you are able to go through these feelings, even once, without resorting to the old behavior (using) you will begin changing the limbic system response.  During this process you will begin to see more clearly just how the old behavior of using, truly has interfered with your quality of life.  You will transition from falsehood and illusion to truth and reality; from avoidance to productivity and resolution.

Remember; the limbic system is the same area of the brain that experiences Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)  The resolution to PTSD is very similar to overcoming addiction.  There is a reason why people who suffer from PTSD are put into support groups and why survivors of work place or school violence are treated together.  Support and safety in numbers reduces the threat thus the fight or flight response.  (You might consider it a herding mentality in the face of danger.)

Once this “changing of the mind” occurs the negative reactions will be lessened by each experience related to a survival threat.  The first birth day clean will be odd but the second one will have the prior as evidence of still being able to have a great time.   It will become less and less of a reflex/desire to resort to the old behavior of using.  Not gone, but lessened.  With support you will be able to make a good choice rather than overreacting with an unproductive and even fake “fight or flight” response as a false sense of resolution.

From the book

Addiction: Am I Powerless? by Emmanuel S. John

(Available on this site)

Learn more by clicking the links to the left

 

 

 

 

Working the Steps – Addiction in the Family

surrender control addiction

STEP TASKS THAT WORK!

While many people argue about HOW to the steps, very few people have actually done any empirical research on the topic as it relates to those persons with successful recovery.  The following data is summarized information about the research conducted while at the University of Maryland in 2005 (while living in the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States.)  This area is rich in AA history and the was/is home to many of the founders of the Oxford Groups and AA; as well as their sponsees.

My approach was simple.  I wanted to survey people with successful recovery; 5 years or more.  I made sure that I included as diverse a sample as possible which included groups who did a step a month and even a step a year!   Regardless of the “beliefs” of the various groups their responses were amazing similar and many actually worked the steps quite differently then how they are now suggesting or directing their sponsees to work them.  (Several respondents actually informed this researcher that this process had open their eyes to these unplanned changes in direction.)

***(Like almost everything posted on this blog/page the following data is an Intellectual Property of this author (Emmanuel S. John and should be sighted accordingly if reproduced.)

Data Analysis and Survey Results

12 Step Tasks and Step Durations

The Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book” (subtitled as the basic text of AA) repeatedly suggests that while steps should be “thoroughly” worked it also suggests that the steps are to be incorporated into daily living (“practice these principles in all of our affairs” step 12.)  In accordance, most respondents reported that they have and will continue to work all the steps for the rest of their lives.

 Participant Data

Average age of respondents was 55 years of age

Average time in recovery 208 months or 17 years and 4 months

Average number of sponsees 5

Average number of sponsors this episode 2.6

85 % do attend weekly step meetings

79% do not believe in time limits on steps

Step Tasks

I think that one of the most valuable findings attained during the research is the list of tasks which can be used for yourself or with your own sponsees who are working the individual steps.

(I will share more steps in the coming posts.  If you are working on the steps now be sure to discuss these tasks with your sponsor or spiritual guide.  If you have other tasks not included please feel free to add them in the comments section.)

A special note:  Most real AA historians agree that Bill W. arranged the steps in a specific order.  That order being that the 1st step identifies the problem; powerless and un-manageability and the second step identifies the solution, that a higher power could restore sanity and manageability.  If you work 3 (deciding to turn your will over) through 11 (continuing that process) you get 12; a spiritual awakening which you can then transmit to others.

The following are the tasks identified by the study’s participants as being HOW they actually WORKED step 3.

STEP # 3                                %       

Read B/B +                                50%

12 and 12                                   35.7

Step meetings                         28.6

Outlined HP                             28.6

Shared with sponsor           28.6

Prayed                                         21.4

Read 3rd step prayer           21.4

57% used other tasks

Tried to Trust HP

24 hour-a-day book

Chapter 5

Little red book

Pro and Cons to make decision or not

Attended meetings only

Talked with other members

Did Service Work

 

75% of respondents reported starting this step within their first six months of recovery

50% reported spending 1 month or less on this step

 

Buy the book

ADDICTION: Am I Powerless?

Emmanuel S. John

addictioninthefamily.com

*****A special note.  While this was not outlined in the research the following is an accurate accounting.  If you have relapsed and returned to the program then the amount of time between your introduction to AA or the steps (or any other 12 step program) and the time you completed your most recent 1st step is the actual amount of time it took you to work it.  In essence,  If you drank for your first 3 years in the program then it took you 3 years to work it.

 

ARE YOU A LOSER! Do you have the courage to change or do you choose to remain estranged! Addiction in the Family

Winners-Vs-Losers Addiction

Do you have the courage to change or do you choose to remain estranged!

Recovery means having the courage to change.  Years ago they used to say that there are no losers in recovery only slow winners.   WELL I’m beginning to wonder!  Most of us are familiar with the popular slogan; The difference between a loser and a winner is that a losers does what they want to do while a winners does what they HAVE to do.

WELL, if that’s true then there are most certainly losers in 12 step meetings because there seems to be a lot of people who won’t do what they have to do.  (PEOPLE IN “RECOVERY” DO WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO AND THUS THEY FIND SUCCESS!)

So, by this point I’ve either made you mad, I’ve peaked your interest or I’ve validated your frustrations with those who fail.

Relapse is a symptom of the disease of addiction but it is NOT a part of a 12 Step Recovery Program.  The proof is in the First Nighters and the One Chippers.  Obviously these people haven’t found relapse a necessary aspect of their recovery so the notion that it is a part of recovery is a bogus notion used as an excuse by, well, the losers who WON’T do what they have to do!  Oldtimes are more proof that relapse is not a part of being in a 12 Step Program.  One might say that the people who follow the Will of their Higher Power (to stay clean and sober) are doing what they have to do by complying with God’s will.

Here is a simple test for all of you who don’t want to be losers.  This is your chance to change.  Your chance to muster up some courage.  Put 10 phone numbers in your phone or on a piece of paper.  Number first (1 John Doe Sponsor, 2 Jim brother sponsee, 3 Joe spiritual guide, 4 Jill Home group member, etc.)  By doing this they will always be at the top of your contacts list.  If using paper then it would be placed in your wallet separate from your other numbers.   Let these people know they are on this list.

When you feel like using call these numbers (starting with #1) until you find support or until the craving passes; but only if you want to beat your malady.  In thirty years in the field I have never seen anyone relapse who used this process, people who made the calls got past it.  If you don’t call these numbers first, before you pick up, then you are the above referenced loser!  BY CHOICE!

The winner does what they have to do; CALL!  They follow the directions of their coach! (sponsor) The loser does what they want to do, USE! Because if you don’t call then that is what you wanted to do and not what you HAD to do!

Don’t like the term loser? Then CHANGE!!!  Have the courage to call!  Have the courage like all winners do to ask for the help that is right at your finger tips!

(A quick word because I know how the addict brain works: there are those who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.  Many are cursing me right now.  Unfortunately those persons have a bigger problem than being a loser and will need professional help to get honest.  But wait!  Aren’t those people also not doing what they have to do?  That being getting the professional help they NEED?  I rest my case!)

You can feel free to argue with me if you want to but that’s probably just your disease talking, your self pity talking, or maybe your laziness talking instead of you working!  It works IF you work it! If you haven’t tried the phone number thing then get back to me after you do!  After you become the winner you might be!

Emmanuel S. John

WHY THEY USE: Relapse and the Limbic System – Addiction in the Family

neuroplasticity, addiction

 

Relapse and the Limbic System

Without getting into too much of human physiology our brain has two major areas/parts.  The first area/part is sometimes referred to as the neocortex. It is located in the front part of the skull or head.  The neocortex receives and stores information for decision-making and remembering; the higher level functions of the brain.  The second area but a much more primary part of the brain is generalized as the mid-brain or the limbic system.  The limbic system area of the brain controls all the automatic systems (Autonomic Nervous System, ANS) of the body as well as the survival reactions related to outside threats (stressors.)  Most germane to our discussion are those systems responsible for the survival responses of “fight or flight” contained within the Limbic System.

      When you feel threatened, the responses of fight or flight act as a protective response that tells you to either defend yourself or run away.  It prepares the body for this by dumping large doses of various hormones and neurotransmitters into the cardiovascular system.  This is done to provide you with and prepare you for, the following physical demands that will be needed for either task of fight or flight.  It constricts the cardio vascular system, raises blood pressure and provides adrenalin, not for a “feeling” but instead for a physical event.

This Stress Reaction (or feeling as we refer to it today) was strictly created to save our lives from direct threats.  Unfortunately for us our social evolution has created scenarios that are inescapable and thereby leave us with lasting levels of stress hormones that are not extinguished/resolved; like mortgage payments and even worries about loved ones.  These are situations that cannot be powered through with pure physicality or escaped (by running.)  The evolution of our limbic system has yet to find a way to process and resolve these events without the physical exertion of fight or flight.

      It is unfortunate for us that the limbic system does not have the benefit of memory like the neocortex.  It is purely a conditioned response to perceived stimuli.  The limbic system doesn’t know the difference between yesterday and 30 years ago.  That’s an issue of memory.  It is strictly concerned with being alive right now.  This explains why childhood traumas can still trigger us today. It’s because the Limbic system does not know that the event was 30 years ago.  It has evolved and is designed to protect us from the Saber Tooth Tiger regardless of when we saw him last.

      It is the limbic system that is most affected by our life and death experiences.  The limbic system can be negatively programmed through traumatic experiences, such as growing up in a dangerous environment or a dysfunctional family.  It is programmed by tragic events like being raped, robbed or involved in a terrible accident.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition of the Limbic System.

As discussed earlier, the body dumps chemicals in the system to prepare the individual for fight or flight, sometimes known as a stress reaction.   When a mood-altering drug of abuse in introduced into the system during a stress reaction those chemicals trick the limbic system into thinking that the fight or the flight activity has occurred.  The system believes that the threat has been resolved.  Since the limbic system doesn’t have a memory or since it doesn’t conduct rational thought it cannot tell itself or remind itself that the threat is still there.  The limbic system has been bluffed by the false resolution of the stressful stimulus.  It becomes programmed to believe that the mood-altering chemical is a newly discovered solution to the threat of survival.  The limbic system is for all intents and purposes, DUMB!  The altering of the Central Nervous System (by either speeding up a body system or by slowing down a body system) mimics the physical event of running or fighting.  Thus the Limbic system becomes falsely convinced that a resolution to the problem of stress has been resolved and that the body can now return to its normal pre-stressed state.

Other behaviors that provide us with pleasure through neuro-chemical reward, program the limbic system into seeing those behaviors as conducive to survival because we suddenly feel less threatened by our stress.  Resolving modern day stress, which is not actually a threat to survival, is the missing process the Limbic System has yet to evolve.  While drugs can make it go away for a while, drugs are not a viable solution, unless using more is an acceptable solution.

  If we are stressed and have a beer our limbic system is conditioned that relief came from that beer and it then becomes programmed to seek the source of that relief when troubles or threatening events like stress occur.  It gives us an easy out to avoid the awareness of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings instead of making healthy responses and decisions, which could actually really resolve the discomfort or stress cause.  Lets look more closely at the limbic system and its intended function.

From the book

ADDICTION: Why They Use

Emmanuel S. John

Read the rest of the story @ addictioninthefamily.com

or by clicking the links to the left

Tasks that work. Step 2 – Addiction in the Family

Tasks of recovery Addiction
Tasks of recovery

STEP TASKS THAT WORK!

While many people argue about HOW to the steps, very few people have actually done any empirical research on the topic as it relates to those persons with successful recovery.  The following data is summarized information about the research conducted while at the University of Maryland in 2005 (while living in the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States.)  This area is rich in AA history and the was/is home to many of the founders of the Oxford Groups and AA; as well as their sponsees.

My approach was simple.  I wanted to survey people with successful recovery; 5 years or more.  I made sure that I included as diverse a sample as possible which included groups who did a step a month and even a step a year!   Regardless of the “beliefs” of the various groups their responses were amazing similar and many actually worked the steps quite differently then how they are now suggesting or directing their sponsees to work them.  (Several respondents actually informed this researcher that this process had open their eyes to these unplanned changes in direction.)

***(Like almost everything posted on this blog/page the following data is an Intellectual Property of this author (Emmanuel S. John and should be sighted accordingly if reproduced.)

Data Analysis and Survey Results

12 Step Tasks and Step Durations

The Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book” (subtitled as the basic text of AA) repeatedly suggests that while steps should be “thoroughly” worked it also suggests that the steps are to be incorporated into daily living (“practice these principles in all of our affairs” step 12.)  In accordance, most respondents reported that they have and will continue to work all the steps for the rest of their lives.

 Participant Data

Average age of respondents was 55 years of age

Average time in recovery 208 months or 17 years and 4 months

Average number of sponsees 5

Average number of sponsors this episode 2.6

85 % do attend weekly step meetings

79% do not believe in time limits on steps

Step Tasks

(I think that one of the most valuable findings attained during the research is the list of tasks which can be used for yourself or with your own sponsees who are working the individual steps)

(I will share more steps in the coming posts.  If you are working on the steps now be sure to discuss these tasks with your sponsor or spiritual guide.  If you have other tasks not included please add them in the comments.)

A special note:  Most real AA historians agree that Bill W. arranged the steps in a specific order.  That order being that the 1st step identifies the problem; powerless and un-manageability and the second step identifies the solution, that a higher power could restore sanity and manageability.  If you work 3 (deciding to turn your will over) through 11 (continuing that process) you get 12; a spiritual awakening which you can then transmit to others.

The following are the tasks identified by the study’s participants as being HOW they actually WORKED step 2.

STEP #2                                                         #          %          

Read Big Book                       50%

Read 12 & 12 +                      42.8

Talked with sponsor               35.7

Prayed                                     28.6

Step Meetings/Study              21.4

Read Came to Believe                        21.4

Learn to trust advice              14.3

Talked about consequences    14.3

Talked with other members   14.3

B/B Chap. 2-4

Listed insanity examples

Little Red Book

(other tasks      50%)

Listed what HP would be

Measures taken to be normal drinker

Attended meetings only

Made a list of HP attributes

67% or respondents reported beginning their 2nd step within their first 3 months of recovery

58% reported spending 1 month or less on this step

ADDICTION: Am I Powerless?

Emmanuel S. John

addictioninthefamily.com

*****A special note.  While this was not outlined in the research the following is an accurate accounting.  If you have relapsed and returned to the program then the amount of time between your introduction to AA or the steps (or any other 12 step program) and the time you completed your most recent 1st step is the actual amount of time it took you to work it.  In essence,  If you drank for your first 3 years in the program then it took you 3 years to work it.

 

STEP TASKS THAT WORK! – Addiction in the Family

steps Addiction

STEP TASKS THAT WORK!

While many people argue about HOW people should work the steps very few people have actually done any empirical research on the topic as it relates to those persons with successful recovery.  The following data is summarized information about the research I did at the University of Maryland in 2005 while living in the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States.  This area is rich in AA history and the area was home to many of the founders of the Oxford Groups and AA as well as their sponsees.

My approach was simple.  I wanted to survey people with successful recovery; 5 years or more.  I made sure that I included as diverse a sample as possible which included groups who did a step a month and even a step a year!   Regardless of the “beliefs” of the various groups their responses were amazing similar and many actually worked the steps differently then they suggested or directed their sponsees to.

(Like almost everything posted on this blog/page the following data is an Intellectual Property of this author (Emmanuel S. John and should be sighted accordingly if reproduced.)

Data Analysis and Survey Results

12 Step Tasks and Step Durations

The Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book” (subtitled as the basic text of AA) repeatedly suggests that while steps should be “thoroughly” worked it also suggests that the steps are to be incorporated into daily living (“practice these principles in all of our affairs” step 12.)  In accordance, most respondents reported that they have and will continue to work all the steps for the rest of their lives.

 Participant Data

Average age of respondents was 55 years of age

Average time in recovery 208 months or 17 years and 4 months

Average number of sponsees 5

Average number of sponsors this episode 2.6

85 % do attend weekly step meetings

79% do not believe in time limits on steps

Step Tasks

(I think that one of the most valuable findings attained during the research is the list of tasks which can be used for yourself or with your own sponsees who are working the individual steps)

STEP # 1                                %       

Read big book                         71%

(you can change the program but these are AA member responses)

Step meetings                         35.7%

Talked with sponsor               35.7

Read 12 and 12                       28.6

Prayed                                     21.4

Wrote History                         21.4

Attended meetings                 21.4

Told story                               14.3

Stopped drinking                    14.3

Other Literature                      14.3

Wrote letters to spon

Read Dr. Opinion

Read Bill’s story                    42.8% other tasks

Read Little Red Book

24 hour book

Step study group

67% of respondents reported starting their first step in their first month of recovery (33% did not but attained at least 5 years, average 17 years)

85% reported completing the 1st step in their first year (15% did not complete in their first year)

58% reported working on the step for one month or less

83% had completed the step within the first three months of their recovery (17% did not complete in 90 days)

8% did not believe that they could complete the 1st step

(I will share more steps in the coming posts.  If you are working on the steps now be sure to discuss these tasks with your sponsor or spiritual guide.  If you have other tasks not included please add them in the comments.)

Oh yeah!  Then there is the book I wrote on the first step!  I believe it to be the most comprehensive 1st step available!

ADDICTION: Am I Powerless?

Emmanuel S. John

addictioninthefamily.com

*****A special note.  While this was not outlined in the research the following is an accurate accounting.  If you have relapsed and returned to the program then the amount of time between your introduction to AA or the steps (or any other 12 step program) and the time you completed your most recent 1st step is the actual amount of time it took you to work it.  In essence,  If you drank for your first 3 years in the program then it took you 3 years to work it.

 

 

 

Dual Diagnosis Can Be Double Double Trouble! – Addiction in the Family

Dual Diagnosis Addiction

Dual Diagnosis

From the book,  ADDICTION: Why They Use  (A handbook for anyone who loves an alcoholic or addict) by Emmanuel S. John

      If you love an addict struggling with both addiction and another mental health disorder like Bi-Polar I or II, you have most certainly heard the term Dual Diagnosis.  This term is sometimes misinterpreted to suggest that there are two different addictions in place.  This is erroneous.  This term does not refer to an alcoholic with a cocaine problem: The confusion arises because that state is most often termed Dual Addicted.

The term Dual Diagnosis suggests that an Addiction Diagnosis is present as well as another mental health diagnosis.  For example, an alcohol dependent may also be suffering from Bi-Polar or s/he may have an underlying Personality Disorder.  Whichever the combination this greatly complicates the treatment needs of the individual and unfortunately it lessens their success rate when it comes to achieving abstinence.

Where to Start When Both States Exist

      There are two perspectives that we should consider when diagnosing a person with a “Dual Diagnosis.” Awareness of these 2 states may help many laypersons and professionals alike better understand their loved one’s/clients’ needs.

  • The first scenario is that there are people who have a primary mental illness that has lead to an addiction issue.  We categorize this type as a person with a mental illness who has a substance abuse/dependency problem.”  This is often a result of their attempts to self medicate a problem like depression or mania as well as many others.  For example the person who suffers with depression may resort to stimulants to lift their mood or a person with ADD or ADHD may develop a marijuana or alcohol dependency to slow their mind, etc…
  • The second category or type; is the substance user that uses for a long enough period of time that a mental illness is brought on by their extended use and the long term practice of unhealthy behaviors.  This is often referred to as “a substance dependent with another mental health issue or mental illness.”  Quite simple, if a person is using a depressant drug like alcohol for a long enough period of time they may (and often do) meet the criteria for depression and therefore may need to be treated accordingly.

This may seem like merely semantics but it has everything to do with WHY THEY USE as well as how they need to be treated if they are to ever successfully arrive at the state of being “clean and sober.”  Simply put the two types are as follows;

  1. A mental health problem that leads to an addiction issue/s
  2. An addiction issue that leads to another mental health problem

Learn more

Addiction: Why They Use (page 89)

Emmanuel S. John

addictioninthefamily.com

Keeping your spiritual gas tank full just makes sense! – Addiction in the Family

Spiritual gas tank addiction

ADDICTION IN THE FAMILY

Keeping your spiritual gas tank full just makes sense!

Obviously this notion of a spiritual gas tank is built around a metaphor that we have a reserve tank of spiritual energy that we can access during difficult time. Perhaps it is better described as a positive energy tank.  We might view it as a level of endurance against negativity.  Perhaps this energy allows us to persevere under unfavorable or unfortunate circumstances and difficult periods of time.

Whatever metaphor we chose one thing is very certain and agreed to by almost all spiritual teachers; that being that this energy source is exhaustible.  Meaning that we only have a limited amount and that we must make an effort to refill the tank or charge these spirit batteries.

For many of the people on the planet the fueling and charging stations are obviously churches, temples, synagogues, masques and yoga mats.  For others they are mountains, lakes, streams, deserts and quiet fields.  For some the charging processes are more demanding than others.  Perhaps for some it is the spending of physical energy in exchange for spiritual endurance; like in the case of the runner, yogi, hiker, martial artist or weight lifter.  Perhaps for many people who are reading this article post the service station is a 12-Step meeting (subtle hint inserted here.)

No matter your proclivity, I can assure you that if you do not replenish this energy you will find that you will not have enough to keep you in good emotional spirits.  If you give this energy to parasitic personalities who do not make the necessary efforts to fill their own tanks or to return the favor then you may find yourself suffering very needlessly as the dependent personality comes back for your supply again and again!

We have the right to use our spiritual energy any way we want but most people find that the safest way to utilize it is through following either the will of God or by fulfilling what they may see as either the natural order of the Universe or in order to comply and adhere to a spiritual destiny of sorts.

I think the most important aspect of this post is to instruct you to actually create a plan to recharge this energy tank on a regular basis; not when it’s empty but before it gets run down.  Most people who relapse either on drugs or on negative behaviors do so when the tank is low (HALT): Often at their weakest or lowest moments.

Hence the trick is to keep the tank level as high as possible so that if and when the unforeseen adversity arises we are prepared.  YOU ARE NOT GOD! YOU ARE NOT AN ETERNAL SOURCE OF WHITE LIGHT SO YOU HAVE TO MAINTENANCE YOUR TANK!

If you are in recovery then you need to attend regular meetings so that you don’t slip up when times get tough.  Too often people try to use their spiritual recharging stations only after things gets uncomfortable; “I need to start going to more meetings or back to church”.  This is the way of the spiritually bankrupt!

Let me be real clear here.  If you are a recovering addict or alcoholic then letting these batteries run down can be more than just uncomfortable, it can become deadly.  There is a way to prevent relapse: Keep the spiritual tank full.  If lack of Power is your dilemma then take the power back.  Tap it! Access it! Replace the drug power, the negative fuel with a cleaner energy source like a Higher Power.  You know, like those comfortable old times do!

Emmanuel S. John

addictioninthefamily.com

Feel like you didn’t quite finish that 4th step? – Addiction in the Family

4th Step Addiction

 

A couple of things to consider on the 4th Step

Many years ago I had client with several years of recovery who requested during one if his sessions that I help him with his goal of completing a searching, fearless and thorough moral inventory (4th step).  While he had done several in the past he was not personally convinced that he had been thorough enough because new names and more people kept popping up after he thought he had finished.

My first response to him was that I did not believe that a person could “did a step”(finish) and that sometimes people confuse 10th step content with 4th step work/content.  That perhaps sometimes we are not ready for some of the content and that natural defense mechanisms might actually be protecting us from issues we can’t yet handle; issues that might lead some people to relapse.

As a therapist in the field for almost 30 years I have to also clearly state that I don’t think a real 4th step can be done until a person has about 1 year of exposure to the programs with almost daily meetings and regular step meetings.  Obviously if you been a relapser your one year of exposure started after your very first meeting. (If you have been around for 10 years and you do your 4th step in your first 30 days clean it still took you 10 years to do it right.)

(My own research project while at the University of MD, identifying the habits of successful recovery supported these findings: Perhaps a topic for another post.)

What do I mean when I say a person can’t “did a step?”  My point is that I don’t think that a spiritual principle can ever be completed; “did.” As we change our values we will naturally change our perspectives and things that weren’t “wrong” before may later be recognized as a less than desirable outcome.  (As an aside; Bill Wilson suggested that all the Steps, Traditions and Concepts are spiritual principles and that AA has 36 primary spiritual principles. 12-12-12.)  This does not however mean that one cannot be thorough at the time the work is done.  What the client really identified was that he “left people out” so I devised the following.

First; make a list of all the people who have ever been in your life.  That is all the humans that you have had contact with.  Start at age 1 and include everyone who was in your life.  (We are just listing names here.) Mom, dad, siblings, aunts uncles grandparents, baby sitters, neighbors, teachers, kids in the neighborhood etc… Then focus on kindergarten, first grade, elementary school, high school, college, 1st job, 1st wife, children, etc..

He came back with a pretty substantial list several weeks later.  Next we used some of the various column titles pulled from different 4th step models but more importantly I asked him to consider the best and worst things that ever happen between each and every person on the list.

You see there is another aspect of thorough that needs to be considered: We can actually use this list to do more than repair relationships,  We can also use it to enhance relationships by simple taking note of any gratitude that we might want to express to these people as well.  Perhaps we owe someone a forgotten thank you for the role they played in our lives.  All wrongs don’t hurt and the step says moral inventory not amoral inventory.  If the forth step is about cleaning up the past and righting wrongs then maybe a wrong can also be an instance where we did not show our appreciation when we should have.

So give that a try. Post a comment or question below.

One last suggestion:  Before you start the amends process with a particular person figure out something positive you got from your encounter with them.  When you go to make the amends to someone start with a thank you for something the person has done for you in the past.  “You know we had a lot of fun together….”  “I appreciated your humor when…”

People in recovery programs make a lot of amends.  But how about putting people on the list who deserve a couple thank you-s too! I mean, it’s not like we all haven’t been angered by someone else’s lack of appreciation.

Finally remember why you’re doing it.  You are removing those things that block you off from the sunlight of the SPIRIT, (hence spiritual principle.)

Emmanuel S, John

addictioninthefamily.com

Like what you read?  Get the books on addiction!

Is marriage bad for relationships? It can be! – Addiction in the Family

relationship fix addiction

 

Is marriage bad for relationships?

Can love actually be given to someone who expects or demands it?  This author thinks not.  If love is an unconditional and a somewhat random act of giving then how can it possibly be owed to or demanded by someone.  Compliance is not love, it’s obedience!

Sure we get married and sign a compassion contract but the moment we rest on our relationship laurels we begin feeding off of the relationship instead of feeding the union.  Marriage was initially a procreation and fidelity agreement.   Initially it allowed people to have cardinal knowledge of one another; allowed them to engage in sex in order to make babies (only) with God’s blessing.  If this is not applicable to your beliefs then perhaps the original institution of marriage needs to be officially or even personally redefined.  That is another issue altogether.

After more than 20 years of couples work it has become quite clear to me that a shift in nurturing and romancing often occurs when the marriage/fidelity contract is realized.  While perhaps to a lesser degree this same dynamic shift in nurturing also occurs in engagements and relationships where both partners have made a spiritual union; believing they are “destined to be together.”

While this author embraces these unions and supports monogamy, it has become quite obvious to me that individual partners often reduce their efforts to “win over” their “potential partner” once these agreements are in place.  While many couples do continue with a healthy level of romance and a small number may even improve their courting rituals, most (probably 70%) report a reduction in their level of feeling “emotionally pursued” and therefore desired by their partner.  They report experiencing less of what they felt in the development of the relationship that inspired them to partner up.  It’s as if there is an underlying notion (in both males and females) that once they have achieved the “get a relationship” destination and resolved their potential “lifetime loneliness crisis” that they can now relax their romancing efforts and to begin to pursue other life interests; in essence putting their energies elsewhere.

The courting process that these couples feel in love with now has to be redefined and tailored to fit the new relationship dynamic of permanency.  Permanency puts a great amount of pressure on the union as individuals attempt to mold their partners into someone they will be able to LIVE WITH for the rest of their lives.  The person that was once a good catch now becomes a work in progress and is often not quite good enough for eternity.  THAT IS A LOT OF PRESSURE!  Almost no other aspect of our lives has the level of permanency that marriage suggests.  Even our family of origin relationships naturally decrease in their level of connectedness and permanency.   In essence permanency generates fear as well as stagnation.

What’s the solution?  Well it’s actually kind of simple but not easy.  First, grow up!  Nothing in life in permanent!  If a relationship is a living thing then it needs to be fed.  If your relationship was formed on a 2 date a week basis then continue that trend if you want the benefits of those close one on one times together: You can’t have the benefit of them without them.   Have a relationship before you have sex and most certainly before you have kids.  New relationships can break under the pressures of sex, intimacy and children!  Determine what the foundation of a long term relationship should be and dedicate the time and effort necessary to form that foundation: Then dedicate the time required to build the rest of the structure.  All successful relationships have one very common similarity; that being that the partners continues to romance and “woo” one another for as long as they want the relationship to last.

No one owes us romantic love and compassion.  We earn it on a daily basis; most often by giving it.  The moment you stop trying to make your partner want you is the moment you stop contributing to the union.  Parasitic love is not love! It’s dependency and codependency.

Finally!  Really Simple!  Make sure you pick someone with the capacity to give on the same level you can. Quick fixes to our emotional problems are rarely fixes.  Make sure it is someone who is emotionally available and self aware enough to monitor their own shortcomings.  One person cannot carry a relationship; that is just parasitism with a willing host!  That breeds resentments.

When you are developing a relationship you spend time talking about ad redefining the roles and standards that are important to you.  This must continue for the relationship to continue.  Let yourselves off the hook and don’t beat each other up with annoyances all week long.  Have a family meeting at the same time each week (sat @ 10:00 am).  Make notes when a problem arises and discuss them at the meeting when both partners are emotionally available and not being rushed or frustrated.  Identify; wants, desires, needs and deal breakers!  Make requests of your partner!  These requests might be traded one for one.  Ask them for what you would like and even for what you need from them.  Most partners (those without mental illnesses like active addiction) will gladly work to make their mates happy; to do for them.  If they don’t then you picked the wrong one or perhaps the relationship has simply failed.  Sometimes we just need to remember that there are no guarantees and that all we have is a daily accounting not a life sentence!

If your relationship is a mistake then take appropriate and mature steps to end it amicably and to then find someone who is more compatible and less combat-able!

Emmanuel S. John