Step 1

To begin the summary of the first step we will consider seven concepts which are built into the step. The first is the concept of denial.  Individuals with addictive personalities are notoriously prone to denial, which explains why alcohol and drug use persists even in the face of negative consequences.  From a psychological perspective, denial is viewed as a defense mechanism, which individuals use to protect themselves from pain.  With that being said, admitting that we have a problem is paramount in this first step.

The next concept to consider is known as “hitting rock bottom”.  This is a term used quite often in twelve-step programs and refers to a time in life that causes an individual to feel that they have reached the lowest point in their life.  They feel that life could not get any worse and that there is nothing good left in their life left to destroy. Although “rock bottom” differs for everyone, hitting it is often necessary for most individuals in addiction to realize they have an issue with alcohol or drugs.  Hitting “rock bottom” is not a pleasant experience for anyone, but by taking the first step in AA we are beginning the process of regaining happiness in our lives.

The third concept to consider is powerlessness.  This is a very hard concept for many to grasp, after all, who wants to admit they are powerless?  The truth is however, that at least in this instance, powerlessness does not equal weakness.  In fact, the ability to admit to powerlessness over alcohol or drugs is a great strength and crucial to completing the first step.  Admitting that we are powerless over alcohol or drugs simply means that when we drink or use a drug, we often have little or no control over the amount we consume or whether/when we are going to consume again.  By admitting we are powerless over alcohol or drugs, we are actually taking the first step in regaining power over our lives !

The fourth concept we will consider is unmanageability.  Because denial is so prominent in addiction, we are often unaware of how unmanageable our lives have actually become.  We see our dysfunctional habits as normal and miss the fact that they are what will eventually lead to our “rock bottom”.  It is difficult for many to think that they do not have a handle on all of their affairs, but in order to proceed and find happiness, we need to consider the concept of unmanageability in our lives.

The next concept to consider is reservations.  A reservation in recovery is something you are holding on to that may lead to a future relapse.  Reservations hold you back by giving you reasons to turn back to alcohol or drug use if recovery does not work out.  A few common examples of reservations include: “I deserve to drink if someone in my family dies”, “After X amount of time I can start drinking again”, and “Once I get X, Y, and Z back I can start drinking again”.  Reservations are normal, but they need to be addressed and resolved in early recovery in order to avoid future set backs .

Spiritual principles are the next concept we will consider.  There are twelve principles of recovery that correspond to the twelve steps.  They are guides to a way of spiritual growth and personal happiness. The spiritual principles are important to consider during early recovery and beyond.  Each principle will be beneficial to consider throughout our recovery and life.  The principles are: acceptance, hope, faith, courage, honesty, patience, humility, willingness, brotherly-love, integrity, self-discipline, and service. 

Surrender is the final concept we will consider.  Surrender is considered to be the foundation of recovery by many.  It is another difficult concept for many to grasp as well, but is essential because without it, there is little to no possibility for change.  Society has taught us to view surrender as a weakness, but in this case, it is actually a sign of great strength.  It is an act of stepping into the unknown and takes an enormous amount of courage, hope, and trust.  By surrendering you are in a sense admitting your powerlessness to addiction, and your unmanageability in life.  You are truly taking the first step to a successful recovery.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and as far as the twelve-step programs , this is the addict and alcoholics beginning.  Today you can increase your potential of remaining sober by incorporating the concepts mentioned in the first step into your every day life.  Today you can overcome denial, your reservations, and your “rock bottom”.  Today you can admit your powerlessness and unmanageability.  Today you can incorporate the spiritual principles into your life.  Today you can surrender and remain sober!

(Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash)

Maintain Healthy Relationships

In previous blog posts we talked about two of Covey’s habits that involve creating healthy relationships. Specifically, we talked about Habit 4, which involved thinking win-win  and Habit 5, which involved seeking first to understand and then to be understood. Hopefully by now you have begun incorporating those habits into your relationships and have seen some improvement.  We know that social support is of extreme importance when it comes to maintaining our recovery.  In order to ensure the social support we are receiving is of the highest quality, we need to be interacting in healthy relationships.  To help us do that, I thought I would introduce the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Skill: Interpersonal Effectiveness. DBT is a therapeutic technique that helps us integrate skills into our every day lives that enable us to change behavioral, emotional, thinking, and interpersonal patterns associated with problems.

Over the next seven blog posts, we will look at different skills we can utilize to improve and maintain our relationships with people we are close to and even complete strangers.  The goals of interpersonal effectiveness are to:

  1. Be skillful in getting what you want and need from others, which includes:
    • Getting others to do things you would like them to do
    • Getting others to take your opinions more seriously
    • Saying no to unwanted requests effectively
  2. Build relationships and end destructive ones, which includes:
    • Strengthening current relationships
    • Finding and building new relationships
    •  Ending hopeless relationships
  3. Walk the middle path, which includes:
    • Creating and maintaining balance in relationships
    • Balancing acceptance and change in relationships. 

Today you can begin to learn and incorporate interpersonal effectiveness skills into your life . Today you can increase your ability to maintain healthy relationships!

(Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash)

Be Successful by Utilizing Highly Effective Habits you Need to Know! (Habit 6: : Synergize)

Welcome to blog post number six in the series of Be Successful by Utilizing Highly Effective Habits you Need to Know! So far we have discussed the first habit (Be Proactive) , the second habit (Begin With the End in Mind), the third habit (Put First Things First), the fourth habit (Think Win-Win), and the fifth habit (Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood) introduced by Stephen Covey in his best selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Today we will discuss habit six, synergize!

In habit number six, Covey encourages us to create synergy in relationships in order to develop new possibilities.  He says we can do this by understanding the differences in other people’s perspectives by being open and creative.  Covey believes synergism is better than compromise because it allows us to discover solutions to problems with other people when we would be much less likely to do so by ourselves.  Unlike compromise, synergism is based on valuing the differences between people.  If two people have the same opinion, one is essentially unnecessary.  When we are aware of other people’s perspectives, new opportunities present themselves, new answers to old problems arise.  By incorporating synergism into your recovery, you can open doors to new opportunities.  Opportunities that you may have never known existed.

Today you can incorporate synergism into your relationships and your recovery.  Today you can create new answers to old problems.  Today you can be successful!

(Photo by Nick Fewings)

A Cure for Addiction

At Today You Can, the belief is that there is no permanent cure for addiction. Drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to. Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives. We do recover, however, alcoholics and addicts need to remain vigilant because they are only one slip from returning to active addiction.

I hope this helped you understand if there is a cure for addiction.