Day 3 of 30: Keys to Recovery

Over the last several years I’ve studied multiple books including He Did Deliver Me from Bondage, the AA Big Book and the Addiction Recovery Program Manual.  I’ve also met with a private counselor, held a private recovery group at my house, attended LDS Addiction Recovery group meetings, and attended SAA Primary Purpose meetings.  Fairly early on I took notes from each of these meetings and I would underline passages in the books and write in the columns.  Every now and again I would come across something that really changed my way of thinking or lead to a new pattern of behavior or was literally the key to my transformation from an addict to a recovered addict (I highlighted it by writing KEY in the book).  Over the next few days I will occasionally list those “KEY” experiences.  Hopefully you find them useful for your own journey to freedom from addiction.

Today I will start with the AA Big Book.  It wasn’t the first book I read but it was the pinnacle of my journey to freedom from my addiction.  It is an incredibly powerful book.  You might enjoy reading “A Brief History of the AA Big Book“.  The following list is the page-ordered set of “KEY” discoveries or principles I found while reading the Big Book as well as attending fellowship meetings, working with my sponsor, or working with a sponsee:

  • The addict is a very sick person.
  • Bill and Dr. Bob (the founders of AA) were convinced the keys to recovery were:
    • The need for moral inventory
    • Confession of personality defects
    • Restitution to those harmed
    • Helpfulness to others
    • The necessity of belief in and dependence upon God
  • One addict could affect another as no non-addict could.
  • Strenuous work, one addict with another, is vital to permanent recovery.
  • In the first 40-50 years people were joining AA and successfully recovering by the thousands, hundreds of thousands, and then millions.
    • They worked the 12 steps quickly (usually within 60 days)
    • They then spent their time sharing the program with others and helping them as sponsors.
    • It was the “helping others with their addiction” that kept them sober.
  • Addicts who attended the original AA program and “tried”:
    • 50% got sober at once
    • 25% sobered up after a few relapses
    • The last 25% improved significantly.
    • NOTE:  Today those numbers are closer to 5% recovery because it is believed the meetings have diverged from the original primary purpose of working the 12 steps and then sharing it with others.  Thus the creation of “Primary Purpose” 12 step meetings for both AA and SA (which is what is).
  • Dr. Bob in a letter to other doctors regarding addiction (alcoholism in particular) highlighted that the rehabilitation finally worked (3rd try) when he took his message to others and encouraged them to also share the message with others.  Without the sharing with others step he remained an addict.  Once he began sharing with others he never acted out again.
  • Addiction is not a problem of “mental control”.
  • There is a common paradox in the addict:  They often have incredible self control in other aspects of their life, but no amount of self control can stop their addiction.
  • You can choose your own conception of God
  • Ruthlessly face your sins and become willing to have your new found friend (God) take them away, root and branch.
  • Make a list of people who you have hurt or toward whom you feel resentment.  Be willing to approach these individuals, admitting your wrong.  Never be critical of them.  Right all matters to the utmost of your ability.
  • Pray to God each day and ask Him what we can do for Him.
  • Stop praying for God to help you directly, unless it is to give you the power to help others.
  • Ex-addicts have a unique power to convince other addicts to open up and speak to them.
  • Elimination of our addiction is but a beginning.
  • Our very lives, as ex-addicts, depends on constantly thinking of helping others.
  • An addict is dishonest and selfish.  We cannot see the lies we create.
  • Selfishness is the root of addiction.
  • You cannot work the 12 step program without having a spiritual experience.  Even if you already have a strong spiritual base you will still need to have this unique spiritual experience.
  • A true addict cannot stop on the basis of self-knowledge.
  • The only defense against craving comes from a higher power.
  • Quit playing God — do not try to be the director of everything in your life.  That is God’s role, not yours.
  • Fear and resentment are corrosive and poisoning.  They must be dealt with immediately.
  • Withhold nothing in your Step five confession of your past mis-deeds, fears, resentments, and harms to others.
  • Daily meditation and prayer and a lifelong key to recovery.
  • Continue to take personal daily inventory and watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.
  • Ask God for freedom from self-will
  • Helping others is the foundation of recovery.
  • Shielding yourself from the problem is not the solution.  It will not work.
  • Sobriety requires serving other addicts.
  • Once you have had your spiritual experience and have found recovery, begin to focus on improving your home immediately.
  • If trouble (in life) comes, cheerfully approach it knowing it is an opportunity for God to show His love and power.
  • Seek professional help as well as spiritual help.
  • The age of miracles is still with us.
  • Since miraculous recoveries and sobriety have occurred to others and continue to occur, they can happen to you too!
  • Progress may include major falls along the way.  As long as they continue to lead to God and improvement the path can be a good one.
  • It is useful to others and important to show up happy and healthy while working with other addicts.
  • It is critical to have support from someone who has been there before.
  • Sometimes cravings take a long time to subside.  It took Dr Bob 2 and 1/2 years for his cravings to subside but every time they came up he would immerse himself in the service of other addicts and they would go away.

That was much longer than I had expected it to be.  I initially thought I might pair the list down to my top 10.  But once I thought about it I realized that would be “my” top 10.  What about what you need to read today?  So I have chosen to leave them as-is.

I hope this exercise was helpful.  I will try to add more from other sources and experiences in the coming days.  Keep up your good fight!  If you’re not sure where to start, just start somewhere, anywhere!  It will be a good start.  It will teach you something.  You will have put one foot in front of the other and that’s how we get places.  And you’ll go somewhere if you’ll just get moving 🙂

My name is Mike


One thought on “Day 3 of 30: Keys to Recovery

  1. We have to get to the root of the problem I think from what I’ve heard that 12 steps today have become something that a person is court ordered to do. Not saying all are like that. Then we have people leading that just want to get thru that session. Our 12 A Spiritual Journey is geared more to a bible study no sponsor but we do give our cell numbers out. We have had success in seeing some people get to the root of the problem. The hard thing is when they understand ok yea I see it now they feel like I have it under control I don’t need the program anymore or I’m not court ordered anymore. Truly we have had people to say that to us. So glad you have this passion because there are a lot of people with problems than without. Keep up the good work. Just my 3 cents.

    Liked by 1 person

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