Addiction is an intense confrontation, a prolonged struggle. It is up and down and every way around battle of wit and stamina to stand up to addiction. No matter how one has entered this diabolic space, it is critical to recognize that the real game of choice starts now. For some, the choice of the past was done in the fog of ignorance and foolishness. So, it was not a real choice but a self-entrapment. For others, it was misfortune brought on by treacherous, heartless circumstance. This disease does not work itself out following a fever or two, no antibiotic leaves a mark, no vaccination would have preempted it, and no Ayurvedic, Homeopathic, or Allopathic intervention, except sometimes as emergency response, will make much of a lasting dent.
A once-for-all addiction relief lies in exploring what is best out there that never took root or has gone missing for a long time in ourselves: our spirit infused with and lifted by a Greater Spirit as well as ethics, morality, inclusiveness and mercy emanating from that One Source. The modern existential options that have led us so far have miserably failed us. For a unified, unfailing meaning of life, we truly need to closely connect ourselves with the ever-present, fully aware, latent, as yet unrecognized, unexplored, ignored, disrespected Higher Being. For this end, as a matter of broader principle, the mind must intend to escape the jailhouse and we must be willing to take little steps changing our choices and behaviors on a consistent basis until we can pick up pace. Early on, one has to admit being stuck out of one’s own folly and that help is badly needed.
Gathering together whatever bits of energy is left to turn a new page is not easy. It feels heavy. It appears impossible. Giving up seems to be the only practical response. But no one knows until one’s back is against the wall that even in a spent condition how incredible a storehouse one is of residual spirit, common sense and physical strength. It is an awesome blessing that should fill us with happiness that not all is lost. Led into a blind alley of darkness and maze in a blinding storm, this residual can easily tide us over. Surely, every flame begins with a daring spark followed by a hopeful flicker. The roar and the crackle are but a couple of huffs and puffs and a few twigs and logs away.
The Twelve Steps are a set of guiding principles in addiction treatment that outline a course of action for tackling problems including alcoholism, drug addiction and compulsion1.
“Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, the two men behind AA, drew their inspiration for the Twelve Steps from the Oxford Group who advocated that all problems rooted in fear and selfishness could be changed through the power of God by following the "Four Absolutes," a moral inventory of "absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness and love," and through public sharing/confession. The Oxford Group also believed in the work of American psychologist William James, particularly his philosophy of pragmatism and "The Will to Believe" doctrine (by changing the inner attitudes of the mind, we can change the outer aspect of life), and William Silkworth, MD, one of the first medical professionals to characterize alcoholism as a disease.”
“When AA was founded in 1935 by Bill W. and Dr. Bob as a fellowship of alcoholics working together to overcome their drinking problems, the 12 Steps acted as a set of guidelines for spiritual and character development—a blueprint for recovery. The Twelve Steps serve the same purpose today. As described by Alcoholics Anonymous, following these guidelines "as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole."”
Now, programs promoting relief from Drug Addiction2, Gambling Addiction3 and Sex Addiction4 also produce the same 12 Steps. That makes sense. After all, the psycho-social ground, the moral ground and the spiritual ground are common in these afflictions. Further, the 12 Steps above is content hollow from spiritual and moral points of view thereby allowing an individual recovering addict to plug in however much he knows about his faith and however intensely he interacts with it. As a result, the outcomes are uneven. Different addicts from different religions and with different levels of studiousness and religiosity are likely to attain different outcomes. Incidentally, the 12 Steps has been adopted by secular groups who gutted the concept of God from their version5.
Situational awakening about the utterly pathetic, painful, abusive and injurious futility of unmitigated, morbid, singular dependency on alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, divination, or other unusual physical and mental tendencies as a safe, secure, balanced, happy, long-lived, stable, promising lifestyle.1
Feeling inadequate, of being less than self-sufficient, powerless in face of a dark monstrosity that has overtaken any traces of normalcy or sanity creating umpteenth hazard, strewing random hurdles and “leading from light into darkness”.2
Hope. Recognizing that there is redemption and hope in God, “despair and sadness” can be a thing of the past regardless of “the evil whispering of the evasive whisperer, non-human and human, who whispers into the human chest”. God speaks thus: “When My servants ask you about Me, no doubt I am close, I respond to the call of every caller when he calls upon Me. So, let them respond to Me and believe in Me so that they may be guided.”3
For a direct flight out of chaos and danger into harmony and peace, connecting and forming alliance with “the Supreme Arbiter” of this life and the next, the Composer of the operating manual governing man’s life and destiny, the Hope of the hopeless, “the One and Only, the Self-Sufficient, the Beginning and the End, the Apparent and the Hidden, the Almighty and the Wise, the Forgiving and the Loving, the Thankful and the Forbearing, the Discounting and the Generous, the Oft-Returning and the Merciful”.
Yet even as someone submits, the person will have to do the task to achieve the desired change. There will still be tests so much so that as in the past when even the strongest of believers, afflicted and shaken to the core, cried out, “When will God’s help come? Indeed, God’s help is always near.” The willingness to think differently, stop willingly, fight the tide, and the move toward balance and mercy is the miracle result of connecting with God. Our moving away from and back to blessing is summed up thus: “Indeed, God does not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves.” A prophet once reminded: First tie your ride, then trust in God. In other words, a division of labor between man and God! Further, God’s divine equity: “Move toward God one step, He will come toward you ten. Move away one, and He will distance Himself from you by just that much.”4
Yet even as someone submits, the person will have to do the task to achieve the desired change. There will still be tests so much so that as in the past when even the strongest of believers, afflicted and shaken to the core, cried out, “When will God’s help come? Indeed, God’s help is always near.” The willingness to think differently, stop willingly, fight the tide, and the move toward balance and mercy is the miracle result of connecting with God. Our moving away from and back to blessing is summed up thus: “Indeed, God does not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves.” A prophet once reminded: First tie your ride, then trust in God. In other words, a division of labor between man and God! Further, God’s divine equity: “Move toward God one step, He will come toward you ten. Move away one, and He will distance Himself from you by just that much.”5
INTENTIONAL INCREMENTAL CONSISTENT
Dual prophetic advice: Make all good work intentional and remember that the job best done in God’s eyes is the one done with regularity even if it is as small as giving a date (or an M&M), or failing which, owing to poverty, give a simple smile. Remember, too, that failures are designed to test quality of faith and make us stronger through reflection and humility as we pull our act together once again and get back into thick of things. As we understand better the nature of our problem and our triggers, only then failures will be temporary. Another prophetic advice to note: A believer never puts his hand in the same hole twice. Yes, we must learn from our mistakes.
Remember God speaks in no uncertain terms: “O you who believe, do not attempt to pray while you are in a state of drunkenness, [but wait] until you know what you are saying; nor yet [while you are] in a state requiring total ablution, until you have bathed” Again, “They ask you about intoxicants and gambling, say, ‘There is great evil in both, as well as some benefit for the people – but the evil outweighs the benefit which they bring.’” Further, “O you who believe, intoxicants, and games of chance, and idolatrous practices, and the divining of the future are but a loathsome evil of Satan's doing: shun it, then, so that you might attain to a happy state!” Also, “By means of intoxicants and games of chance Satan seeks only to sow enmity and hatred among you, and to turn you away from the remembrance of God and from prayer. Will you not, then, desist?” As to sexual excessiveness, start by not increasing the number of acquaintances, being hygienic, turning toward modesty and privacy, and respecting others’ sensitivities and the law. Fade away from bad-mouthing partners and loud use of racy language. On the way, begin to pick up other ignored personal, familial and communal duties. Just as responsible drinking is no drinking at all, responsible sex is that contained within marriage.6
Taking stock – continually, now and on a periodic basis, meaningfully recalling the excesses and the follies, the victims and the spoils of a life however imprudent, arrogant, mendacious, treacherous, lecherous, boorish, or wanton it may have been. Getting ready to make amends now and into the future.7
Voluntarily atoning to “the Concealer of Sins”: by being transparent and accountable to God Alone for having produced every trash that has blighted own and others’ lives. However, sharing with one other sympathetic, listening, privacy conscious, fellow human in a non-confessional setting appears to carry a significant practical value of unburdening or relief. If there is a spouse of sound constitution, unflagging fellowship and resolve, then share with that person. After all, an ideal spousal relationship has four aspects to it: a means to respite and rejuvenation; garment-like, act to protect, conceal and beautify the partner; be a well of love to the other; and as a reflection of that love, provide blessing – real-time care in material, mental and spiritual forms.8
Having drawn up a list, whenever possible, make direct or indirect admission and/or material amends to those hurt or harmed. Follow through with ongoing prompt admission of flawed behavior.9
REDIRECTION AND HEART WELFARE
This would mean making “Fair Play and Goodness”, in all forms, a part and parcel of life and steering clear of “lewdness, wickedness and disorderliness”. As for “a sound heart” – the visa to enter Paradise, giving a wide berth to “hypocrisy, vanity in submission, lying and betrayal and standing well clear of slander, backbiting, pride and jealousy, and impatience, ungratefulness and anger” is absolutely necessary.10
GOD IS: NUMBER ONE
Continuing the lifelong mission of remembering that we have been created only to worship God and that it is a highly productive relationship, to say the least. i. Everything we do, we should do on account of and for God: “my prayer, my sacrifice, the way I live and the way I die are for the Lord of the Worlds”; ii. Prayer prevents lewdness and evil, alms shared from legally earned income without any catch – display, reminder, reprimand, or hook, purifies the self, and well-calibrated fasting produces balance in all forms of relationships; iii. True mindfulness is “being able to see God while praying; else, knowing that He sees you when you turn toward Him in submission”!11
SERVING SELF & OTHERS
Upon recovery, assuming dual responsibilities by first dutifully continuing with the commitment to “believe in God and pursuing righteous/fair/just correct/balanced deeds” and then “joining with others to promote truth and patience”. These two broad categories of personal and community oriented duties allow leading a life absent a losing account. Sharing the obnoxious truth about addiction and its inevitable defeat via hope in God as well as patiently, modestly, with good manners and humility pursuing His commands would be an example of the latter.12
Needless-to-say, tptChoice’s moral and spiritual bases are very thorough and well-tested. They are not the product of any subsequent scholars through the ages. They are directly from original sources. There is no known controversy. The objective and the game plan are crystal clear.
In writing up a 12 Step approach from tptChoice’s point of view, we incorporated a known therapeutic step as the first point and lowered the traditional Step 1 to Step 2. Also, since my community’s experience has been holistic, we make the point at the outset that such a model is for all forms of addiction. So, the recovery foreseen here is in the spirit of entering submission completely or wholeheartedly.
The Steps 1, 2 and 3 above are replaced below, accordingly, by Steps 2, 3, and 4, 5 and 6. Again, the Steps 4 and 5 correspond, consecutively, with the Steps 7 and 8. Steps 8, 9 and 10 are replaced in our version with Step 9. As for Steps 6 and 7, they are replaced, respectively, by Steps 10 and 11. In Steps 8, 9 and 10, one will notice a combination of “Seeking Forgiveness” and “Turning toward God”. After all, a genuine repentance needs both of them. Also, in Step 8, we make clear that any mandated confession is to God alone, and not to any other human being. The original form carries a Christian (Catholic) confessional element. However, a voluntary admission to a trustable, concerned, involved person has values other than that of expiation.
In Step 11, we felt that the relationship with God had to be fleshed out with how to achieve the highest station of faith, ‘Innate Goodness’ - the original, spiritual definition of mindfulness. The Step 12 is about finding something useful to do upon recovery that is likely to keep the former addict in recovery. Since addicts from our community have a reduced knowledge base and habit of practice, our version of 12 Steps seeks a spiritual reintroduction. Overall, in our rendition, while there are certain aspects of creed – directly, existence and uniqueness of God and the eventuality of Day of Reckoning, and indirectly, elected messengers of God, the presence of elements of character is significant.
Using the concept that “there is no compulsion in religion” and the knowledge that our community’s approach to living is holistic, our drafted version of 12 Steps is dubbed ‘Our 12 Steps’.
1 For greater clarity, language and phrasing slightly updated by the author
Whether born of fun, situation-bred, or acquaintance-led exposure, and regardless of the age of initiation, alcoholism is an uncontrolled, debilitating chronic disease of the mind. Having become the go-to source of relief and leisure, a financially expensive habit, alcohol casts a pall of gloom over normal life. It affects people variously. In fact, five impact categories have been identified. Regardless, in the worst case scenario [9.2% of alcoholics; 38 years average age;
Drug Addiction originates in habitually consuming hard drugs [i.e., illegal or controlled substance without prescription]. Entering the body variously [via drinking, smoking and inhaling, snorting, smelling, injecting, inserting, etc.] for the express intention of gaining pure pleasure and relaxation it produces, in the long run it reveals itself to be the Trojan horse it is. It is an induced/acquired mental (i.e., psychological and emotional) and physical disease.
Once viewed as an impulse control failure, GA has been reclassified as a mental disease. No matter what gambling has been to a person, how it has arrived and is pursued – as a past-time or a challenge, casually or regularly, self-discovered or inducted, as an early starter or a late-comer, openly or secretly, in solvency or in-debt, family-sensitive or irresponsible - girded by precarious financial condition, its steely grip produces tremendous psychological and emotional
According to current professional assessment, HSD/IDO/SA is not a disease but an impulse control disorder. It is taking a normal, adult inclination into directions, places, times, people, and processes that are far from normal. Sexual Addiction is very secretively pursued and is quite destructive to one’s social status, health, relationships, legal standing, spiritual and ethical moorings, and sometimes even to one’s income earning capacity and assets
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“Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.”
“There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”
“We are only as blind as we want to be.”
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
O God, I realize Your presence having been blind before Failing none, to every supplicant You lend Your blessed ear I am turning to You now even if I cared not to do so before With hope and prayer, inside Your high walls I take refuge Afford me clemency, security, and in all my affairs, reliability! Amen
Below, some punch lines hustle and little poems create Easy and handy, like prayers be, for earthly use To dust off and see each day through royally Good luck, fair weather and Godspeed!
O God, Save me from the excessiveness, indignity and hindrance created by “the piece of flesh between the jaws and the piece of flesh between the legs”! Amen
Religiosity appears winded, narrow to some Just like a river, for one given to compare But the river eventually meets up with the sea Imagine with proper religiosity where one could be!
Who hasn’t seen it, can anyone anywhere deny it A storm as it gathers, as it bears down and batters Yet at the end, it must wither and completely disappear? So, surely as the pesky storm, my future is clear with fair weather!