Three Ways the 12 Steps Help Besides Addiction Relief
There are many ways the 12 steps help besides addiction relief. Recently, I lost my bus pass. I decided to ride my bike into town to save money, only to discover that someone had stolen the seat. I said, "Seriously?" and decided that if that was the worst thing that happened that day, I was blessed, and went about my day in a cheerful mood. That would not have been possible without the 12 steps of A.A.. So here are three ways the 12 steps help besides addiction relief.
12 Steps Help by Teaching to Look on the Bright Side
I am not, by nature, an optimist. I am somewhat cynical due to many negative life experiences and I often get nervous when things start to go well because I believe something will go wrong. But A.A. has helped me to look on the bright side. AA has helped me to realize that things have been worse in my active addiction and that, as the cliche observes, "My worst day sober is better than my best day drinking."
In my active addiction, I drank to drown the pain. I even joked that I preferred my alcohol sweet and light to contrast with my outlook on life. The more I drank, the worse things became. Alcohol intensified my underlying depression and often drove me into a suicidal mood. More than once a drinking binge resulted in the police coming and taking me to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Finally, I decided I had to sober up or die.
With the alcohol gone, my depression lifted. My medications and therapy had a chance to work. I faced, and overcame, much of the pain instead of diving into a bottle. My impulse control improved, which enabled me to stay safe when I was depressed. I can remember my active addiction, compare it to my current situation, and conclude things could be a lot worse. I can "accept life on life's terms."
A.A.'s 12 Steps Help Teach Improved Self-Care
While my self-care is not ideal, it's a lot better than it was in my active addiction (Why Self-Care is Important for Your Physical and Mental Health). As my self-care has improved, so has my sense of responsibility. There's a joke in A.A. that if you can keep a plant alive for a year, maybe you're ready for a pet; if you can keep a pet alive for a year, maybe you're ready for a relationship. I'm finally to the point where I can have a healthy one.
I have an aloe vera plant that I have not needed recently (due to not self-injuring). And last month I adopted two pet rats, Annabelle (a tan rat) and Cocoa (a black rat with a white heart-shaped mark on her belly). In my active addiction, I could not have cared for a pet. I couldn't even care for myself.
A.A. gives me something to look forward to on days when I have a meeting. I have a family of choice that cares for me and helps me care for myself. Now that I have something to live for and someone who cares, my self-esteem is increasing and my outlook on life is improving. I care for myself enough not to drink--I owe that to A.A.. And because I care for myself, I can care for others.
A.A.'s 12 Steps Help Teach Emotional Sobriety
In my active addiction, I was a volatile individual. I never knew how I might respond to any situation. The alcohol intensified this instability. As a result, I would fly into fits of rage that often resulted in self-injury or property destruction. This did not go over well with the police and almost resulted in federal criminal charges after I said I was going to provoke the Federal Bureau of Investigation into killing me.
Now that I'm sober, the mood swings are a lot less frequent. I am a devout pacifist. I have emotional sobriety; I am not volatile. I am able to remain calm and think rationally. I still have episodes where my mental illness shows, but when they happen I am able to recognize the symptoms for what they are. My thinking does not revolve around getting drunk. I am able to set healthy goals.
A.A. can help in many ways besides addiction recovery. I'm living proof.
Oberg, B. (2015, December 14). Three Ways the 12 Steps Help Besides Addiction Relief, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2015/12/three-ways-the-twelve-steps-help-besides-addiction-relief