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Posted in Helpful Articles, Recovery

What to Expect at Your First AA Meeting

If you have admitted to yourself that you have a problem with alcohol, you may be considering attending a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous but feel somewhat anxious, wondering what to expect. You may have heard any one of a number of rumors about AA and other 12-step programs. For instance, you may have been told AA is some kind of cult or that you can’t belong to AA if you are not a religious person. You may think that sober people are boring, and that AA turns newcomers into equally boring people.

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Posted in Early Recovery

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Using Your Strengths to Fight Addiction

By Edie Weinstein, MSW

Most people affected by addiction in some way are familiar with the spiritual wisdom of traditional 12-step recovery programs known as the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

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Posted in Early Recovery

How To Work Step Twelve

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The first thing to do when you approach step twelve is to recognize the first portion of step’s language: having had a spiritual awaking as the result of these steps. In other words, by the time you reach step twelve you will have had a spiritual awakening of some sort.

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Posted in Early Recovery

How to Work Step Eleven

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.

Step eleven, like step ten, is not a step that is worked once and then forgotten. Instead, it is part of an ongoing (usually daily) ritual of recovery. That said, recovering addicts often find “prayer” and “meditation” to be somewhat baffling concepts. And some, especially those who began the recovery process as agnostics or atheists, may still be struggling with the concept of having a “higher power” at all. For these reasons (and many others) step eleven can be a difficult step to work. If you find yourself struggling with step eleven, take heart in the fact that you are very far from alone, for even the most devoutly religious members of 12-step recovery groups sometimes temporarily lose their way here.

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Posted in Early Recovery

How to Work Step Ten

Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step ten in most respects is the logical culmination of the previous nine steps. In essence, the first nine steps are about stopping the bleeding of addiction, and then identifying and cleaning up the wreckage of our pasts. Step ten begins the process of living differently in the present. Essentially, it is an ongoing version of steps four through nine, where we take a quick inventory of a situation, identify our part in it, and, when necessary, either self-correct or make an amends. Happily, having worked steps four through nine already, we are familiar with this “inventory, assessment, change, and amends” process. The difference here is that step ten inventories deal with the present rather than the past, and the schedule for self-correcting or making an amends is “as soon as possible” rather than waiting until you are spiritually fit and the time is right.

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Posted in Early Recovery

How to Work Step Nine

Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

After working step eight, you should have a list of people you have harmed and you should be willing to make amends to them all. If so, then you are ready to work step nine. Step nine should not be undertaken without first consulting your sponsor, therapist, or spiritual advisor. Period. No exceptions. Do not jump into step nine without the assistance of a mentor who has already been there.

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Posted in Early Recovery

How to Work Step Eight

Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

All of the steps from four onward are concerned with interpersonal relations – how we interact in the wider world, including the pain we cause, the resentments we form, etc. The process, essentially, is:

  1. To look back on our lives and see where we have caused problems for ourselves and others
  2. To make a vigorous attempt to repair the damage we have done
  3. To live differently in the future

Step eight, coupled with step nine, is the middle portion of this procedure – making a vigorous attempt to repair the damage we have done.

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Posted in Recovery at The Ranch

How to Work Step Seven

Humbly asked Him [God] to remove our shortcomings.

Step seven is the logical continuation of step six, wherein addicts delineate their character defects and become willing to live without them. In step seven, as one might expect, addicts begin the process of actually getting rid of those shortcomings. In most respects, working step seven is a relatively straightforward procedure. You simply incorporate into your daily routine (prayer, affirmations, or whatever else it is that seems to work for you in your recovery) a request that your higher power remove your character defects. If there are shortcomings that are particularly troublesome at a given time, you specifically mention those issues.

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Posted in Early Recovery

How To Work Step Six

We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

The Alcoholics Anonymous authored book, The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, famously calls step six “the step that separates the men from the boys.” What the AA folks mean by this is that compiling a list of one’s character defects and then becoming completely, absolutely, and totally willing to let go of those defects requires a lot of fortitude. After all, some of those character defects can be pretty fun and exciting – lust, sloth, greed, etc. And who wants to let go of that stuff? Especially when some of those supposed defects are actually necessary to life.

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Posted in Recovery at The Ranch

How To Work Step Five

We admitted to God, to Ourselves, and to Another Human Being the Exact Nature of Our Wrongs.

Step five is the simplest of steps to work, yet it is without doubt among the most difficult to do. Addicts who’ve completed step four have put together an inventory of their wrongdoings, character defects, weaknesses, fears, and just plain crazy behavior. After doing this, they sometimes feel more alone than ever – riddled with guilt, shame, and remorse, and completely convinced that they are the worst person ever. In such cases, the idea of sharing one’s step four inventory with another human being is downright frightening.

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