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Posted by on in Alcoholism

When I was newly sober, I heard the cliche that "alcoholism has very little to do with alcohol" many times. As I have stayed sober longer, I have found this statement to be extremely true. Alcoholism comes in a person, not in a bottle.

Prayer in Alcoholics AnonymousThe First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous has two distinct parts. The first part states that we are powerless over alcohol (and drugs), and the second part states that our lives had become unmanageable. When I first saw this, I read it as "our alcohol abuse had become unmanageable." The truth is that our lives are unmanageable without alcohol as well. In my experience and opinion, my life became even more unmanageable without alcohol than it was with alcohol.

Alcohol was the solution. It worked. It helped me manage. Getting sober and admitting I was powerless over alcohol, I no longer had my chief form of comfort. Alcohol allowed me to not feel, and I wasn't sober frequently enough to fully experience the path of my unpleasant emotions. Suddenly I found myself in a world where I had no buffer between me and my emotions.

This unmanageability to me means that I cannot healthily and safely manage my life sober or drunk. My mind does not by default know how to appropriately respond to life. Alcoholism carries on just as well without the alcohol. As the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, we have a physical allergy, mental craving, and spiritual malady. When I stop drinking, the physical allergy is no longer an issue. The mental craving is caused by my spiritual malady. It is for this reason that the focus of eleven of the Twelve Steps is on this spiritual malady.

As I work on my spiritual malady and get in conscious contact with my Higher Power, the mental cravings begin to dissipate. However, if I am not working on my spiritual malady, the mental cravings overpower me. The unmanageability is a direct result of my lack of a contact with a power greater than myself.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

In recovery, we go through the steps with our sponsor.  However, the steps also must be worked in our daily lives.  As the Twelfth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests, we must practice these principles in all our affairs.

Powerlessness

In everyday life, powerlessness is constantly affecting us.  Specifically, we must always remember our powerlessness over our addiction. Keeping close the memory of what happens when we indulge helps drive us every day to work the steps.  Remembering what our addiction looks like is a great motivator.

After working the steps and gaining insight, we discover that we are powerless over much more than our addiction.  Essentially, we are powerless over everyone and everything except ourselves.  We must stop trying to control outside events.

Dr. Paul O. said, "When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment... When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God's handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God."

We must stop trying to control and fix things.  Although in the First Step we are not yet examining a power greater than ourselves, the point still stands: we must recognize our own powerlessness over the world around us, and focus within.  In our daily lives, we must turn our concentration inward, and cease trying to control the external.  This is a simple, yet difficult task; recognizing our powerlessness and letting things go is very counterintuitive.

Unmanageability

Unmanageability affects our daily lives as well.  With the powerlessness over other people comes the unmanageability.  Other people, external events, and anything else outside of ourselves is certainly unmanageable.  When we don't recognize our powerlessness over these things, unmanageability grows even stronger.  Trying to exert power over external phenomena creates distress and anxiety.  Recognizing our powerlessness, we must see that everything is unmanageable to us.

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