This post is to help everyone reading better understand step one. This step is extremely vital in knowing the truth of alcoholism and drug addiction. There are many misconceptions of this disease that in some way need to be clarified. Gaston House Transitions desires to help everyone better understand what it looks like to be an addict and alcoholic but also what it means to be an alcoholic and addict. How does this translate to everyday life and if there are persons you know suffering from this disease, what can be done?
The steps are a pathway in function, yet they are not the solution by any means. To understand step one is to understand the problem. An analogy is best to help put things into relative prospective. I personally do not know anything about cars. If I were to get into my car and turn the key, my hope would be that the engine would start. Yet if I were to get into my car and the engine did not start, then I would be in some trouble. The odds of me looking under the hood and messing with wires and hoses until the car worked as normal would be odds that are too high to conceive. Yet people are far more complex then cars. If one does not have a firm grasp on the problem, then they cannot move towards an adequate solution. The same goes for step one. If I am aware of my truth in the problem, then an adequate solution through the steps can be found.
Starting with the body, alcoholics and addicts have a physical allergy to alcohol and drugs. While an allergy is nothing more than an abnormal reaction to a substance, this is unlike an allergy that causes anaphylactic shock. If someone with a peanut or strawberry allergy ingests those substances then their throat closes up and they need to be rushed to the hospital. The physically allergy of alcoholics and addicts suffer from something called the phenomenon of craving. This craving is a reaction that causes the addict and alcoholic to desire more of that substance no matter the desire or the wish to stop. There are certain indicators for this component of the disease. These are the things everyone who knows anything about addiction can attest. The inability to stop or control use once started.
While there is no need for persons allergic to peanut butter or strawberries to attend 12 step meetings, there must be something else going on in the mind of an alcoholic and addict. The question almost always arises, “If this is causing so much destruction in your life, why don’t you just stop, or say no?” This is where we move to the more subjective part of this disease, where the mental aspect lies. Men and women like the way alcohol and drugs make them feel. People drink and use drugs to experience a feeling that is unique to that substance yet there are so many people in the world that virtually have no problem with taking it or leaving it alone. The mind of an alcoholic and addict at some point in their life start to exhibit the inability to determine what is true and what is false. My mind easily remembers the earlier, better times in my life where drugs and alcohol were fun for me, yet eventually consequences started to pile up around me and it became a real problem. When I reflect on my own story, I notice that every time my mind convinced me it would be a good idea to get high, I was stone cold sober before taking that first hit. There was absolutely no defense in my arsenal that could keep me away from drugs when the thought to get high would come. My mind held to the idea that this time would be different every time I would get high. My experience is not the only instance or correlating thread that joins me with fellow addicts and alcoholics. We all have succumbed to a strange mental twist that convinces the user that they are in fact able to control and enjoy their use as they did in earlier days of their lives. At a certain point, addicts and alcoholics are not able to determine what is real and what is false where drugs or alcohol is concerned. This aspect of the disease is what so many people fail to see. The lack of the proportion of the ability to think in concern to that substance.
This fold of the disease is the hardest for someone to grasp. Personally, I did not believe for the longest time that I truly did not have the ability to manage the decision to get high. I honestly believed that I was actively choosing to get high every time because life did not seem bearable to experience sober. It wasn’t until I tried to choose against getting high that the realization was made that the choice wasn’t mine to make anymore. This is the painful truth in the stories of all addicts and alcoholics of the chronic and progressive type. This is also why step one is incredibly important to grasp and painful to watch people go through. If the person affected does not have the desire to get and stay sober, if they are the addict or alcoholic of the hopeless variety, then nothing on this earth can keep them sober and free for a substantial amount of time. What gets in the way the most is the persons own mind. If they haven’t accepted the truth of step one, then their mind will always convince them that they can successfully get high or drunk regardless of what others say or try and force them to see. Unfortunately, the truth in step one is hopelessness. I need to understand that I cannot and will not keep myself sober through my own defenses or will power. That nothing my family, friends, or anything of human power can do will keep my sober. This hopelessness and surrender needs to be achieved before the steps can be fully accepted.
Step one is where we realize there is no hope, step two is where we start to gain some hope.