You gotta do what you gotta do.
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
You never realize you’ve fallen into the abyss until you reach rock bottom. From there, it’s a punishing fight to the surface. Unfortunately, not a lot make it far. In fact, some never even see the light again. This unrelenting chasm of darkness precipitated by addiction; it’s my biggest fear. The silver lining comes in the form of redemption. Overcoming your harshest demons makes for an indomitable spirit. You won’t be so far gone after all.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The liquor makes you do crazy things. You’ll reach out to people you swore to never acquaint with again, get caught up in shitty situations, and let your emotions get the best of you. The drunk persona that consumes your being is someone that everyone can fall in love with, but they’ll end up detesting the fiend you will inevitably become. Don’t chase this illusion, because that’s all it is. Nothing more.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Religion… I was never a fan of it. However, it serves a very powerful purpose: the unity of humanity worldwide. A vessel for morality and the betterment of society through ambiguous ideals, religion provides answers for virtually every facet of life, however generic they may be. But what I don’t agree with is that an indoctrinated approach to this subject matter will solve all your problems. Relinquishing your alcoholic lifestyle to this concept of destiny isn’t grounded in the real-world settings we commonly find ourselves in. Everyone has a different story, and this blueprint just may be too vague to fit them all.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
To admit your own faults takes courage, tons of it. You can broadcast your inner feelings to any audience, but in the end, only you can take command of the damage control. Do you know why that is?
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
It’s because no one truly knows how fucked up you are, or how fucked up you can be. If anyone knew the extent of my diabolic character, I wouldn’t have any friends. But that’s not realistic, because we all inherently omit certain details of certain events to certain people, and we don’t think twice about it. So yes, we can admit to our peers how badly we messed up, but that doesn’t mean shit if we don’t admit it to ourselves first. It doesn’t mean a damn thing if we can’t be honest within.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Can God actually do that for me, though? Can all the errors of my life be erased by a literal deus ex machina? Some say speak it into existence, and that’s great and all, but take initiative for once in your fucking life. Yes, spirituality is of the essence in recovery and self-development, but actions are just as important. Get a grip on the steering wheel of life, and go to where you need to go. Fuck an autopilot.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 7 is awfully similar to Step 6, so I’ll pass on this one, for the sake of avoiding redundancy.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
I want you to think about this one for a long time. As a species, we are incredibly susceptible to notions of evil. Without civil law, calamity and anarchy would ensue. As a result, doing the right thing is almost always going to be harder than doing the opposite. This levels down to the simplest of actions, which include everyday interpersonal interactions with those in your immediate surroundings. Face it: we have ALL corrupted a friendship that meant the world to us, directly or indirectly. That’s just human nature, so don’t let it eat at you. Moving forward from a negative situation with newfound experience may just make it worth it. Learning from your fuck-ups can make for a helluva character.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Some people burn bridges. Others blow them up. God knows I’ve TNT’ed the fuck out of some relationships, either out of sheer anger, or in a confused attempt to retaliate to any mental damage done to me. We’re a petty species, and misery loves company. Regardless, alcoholism expedites this bombastic destruction of connectivity with your loved ones. Being able to manage addiction puts you on the forefront for ending the fire, thus salvaging that connection. However, if you laid waste to that respective bridge through explosive means, it’s best not to attempt the alternative, which is to swim across. You’ll drown trying.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Irreverence is commonplace amongst the unwise, and the unwise are commonplace amongst the younger demographic. In short, the less experienced are the most vulnerable to making the grave mistakes associated with alcohol. So the question then becomes; why drink at all?
It always starts off as experimental. Curiosity envelops you with a grip you can’t break. Sparks for this curiosity range from popular culture, to traumatizing experiences in family matters, to attempts to fit in with the cool kids at school. No matter how you peg it, influences are universal for the substance.
From there, willpower runs its course. Some dead it entirely, hating the taste and effects of alcohol off rip. Others, well…
…the taste is just the start. Constant peer pressure, mixed with a transition to stereotypical, coming-of-age college partying, lead to the zany antics you would expect from alcohol use. Those unconvinced by this lifestyle may also stick to an introverted approach to the substance. As you grow older, more options become available, and the addiction starts to creep in.
Before long, routines develop. Weekly visits to the bar follow suit, and they’re masked as moments to destress from the haywire work/school week, or whatever the fuck it is you do on a daily basis. You methodize the consumption of alcohol, and start becoming subconsciously insatiable with your existence. That’s when the grief rears its ugly head, and capitalizes on your soul.
You start arguing with your parents more. They tell you that you spend too much time out with friends, and you proceed to tell them to go ahead and kick rocks. You know they’re right, but you hate to see it. The dynamite is being rigged.
You get in shouting matches with your best friends over your recent decisions that, as they observe, have been irrational and nonsensical. Their perspective is one you traditionally value, but you’re wiser than that now, according to yourself. You proceed to tell them to fuck off as well. The arming mechanism is linked to the dynamite, hand on the trigger.
You tell your significant other, in an inebriated stupor, that drinking is the only form of happiness you can find nowadays, and they break up with you, as well as block you. Attempts to reach them are in vain, and sadness makes an unwelcome visit. You go drown your sorrows at the bar, alone. Boom goes the dynamite.
Decades fly by, and you grow old and bitter. Closed off to the world, your only “friend” appears in the form of a nurse that tends to you, at the retirement home. Your surroundings consist of monotonous color schemes, and your meals are about as stale as McDonalds fries. As you lay all alone in white sheets, dressed in white silks, you break down in tears. How did it get like this? Why are you living all alone in a retirement home? Why did you never manage to have children? Do you have a legacy that’s worth living for? Why does your body hurt so much? You can’t remember any of these things, because your brain had been exposed to endless pain from years of alcohol abuse. Then you realize that you don’t even know your own name. Alzheimer’s disease has claimed you.
All the good times, the memories of your childhood/adulthood, erased, just like that. You don’t know how to process it, because you can’t. Being a shell of your former self isn’t that enticing, but you’ve been left no other choice. One day, as the sun goes down, you feel the restlessness cripple your feeble being, so you decide to go back to sleep. This always happens around the afternoons, since the television just runs PBS, and boredom is quick to come about.
You never wake up again.
The funeral is held a week later. Your relationship capacity had deteriorated faster than your health, so the audience was brief. Kind words were spoken about your being, even though they were sugarcoated. Delivering the eulogies were your nurse, a scattershot group of distant acquaintances that caught wind of your passing through Facebook, and your resentful siblings, who organized the proceedings. The kids never came to fruition because of a failed marriage years prior.
You were 52.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Do as you must with Step 11, ladies and gentlemen.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
These steps are the culmination of very bright minds in dark places coming together to illuminate their lives once more with a fresh outlook on existence that revolves around recovery from substance abuse. I’ve personally gone through an extensive period of alcohol abuse, but I got a grip before it was too late. To find yourself in a position of hopelessness is a common occurrence, but there is always a way out. You just have to find it and never give up.
As euphoric as the escapism of alcohol use can be, it can lead to a dead end, literally. On the upside, the downwards spiral can be stopped. Finding your wings and soaring above the influence, even if it’s as simple as moderation, can save your life. Continue fighting for a prosperous outcome, no matter how challenging. Hopelessness preys on the defeated, but you will not be defeated today.