The Price of Addiction
Sondra is not going to be able to deal with her drinking problem until she admits that she has a drinking problem. She may not be able to admit her problem until she sees how powerless she is over alcohol. But admitting powerlessness is very hard. Most of us are dragged kicking and screaming to this point. In Alcoholics Anonymous, it used to be said that a person could not get well until he or she “hit bottom.” This meant that when your wife left you because of your drinking, when your boss fired you (because you had lost the ability to concentrate on your work), and when you woke up one day in a detox center (and couldn’t remember how you got there), then you might finally admit you had a alcohol problem and needed help. This is what Step One means when it says, “our lives had become unmanageable.”
The hope is, of course, that a person’s life does not need to get to this stage before he or she is willing to start dealing with the problem. Our aim is to recognize the little signs, the things that are going wrong, the preoccupation with an activity, the need to cover up, and say before life gets out of hand, “I’ve got a problem.”
What Step One is all about is “confession.” It is saying, “Yup, that’s me. I’ve got a problem and it’s a big one.” And this is tough. Who wants to admit to being a drug addict, a food junkie, a sexaholic, or an uncontrollable shopper? “Me? No, I can’t be like that…” And yet there is no alternative. If we can’t take Step One, we can’t get well.
But once taken, a person will have started on the path to recovery. At AA meetings, when people get up to tell their stories, they begin by saying: “My name is ____. I’m an alcoholic.” The Twelve Steps to wholeness begin when we can say: “My name is ____ and I am addicted to _____.”