In Loving Memory of Vic

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Need to get to a meeting and speak to someone right away? Below is a list of online meetings and resources to help you find a meeting and fellowship.

+ Alcoholics Anonymous Online Meeting Finder
+ Overeaters Anonymous Meeting Finder
+ Narcotics Anonymous Meeting Finder
+ Al-Anon Online Meeting Finder

Step One

Step One

“We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

As addicts, we have each experienced the pain, loneliness, and despair of addiction. Before coming to N.A., most of us tried everything we could think of to control our use of drugs. We tried switching drugs, thinking that we only had a problem with one particular drug. We tried limiting our drug use to certain times or places. We may even have vowed to stop using altogether at a certain point. We may have told ourselves we would never do the things we watched other addicts do, then found ourselves doing those very things. Nothing we tried had any lasting effect. Our active addiction continued to progress, overpowering even our best intentions. Alone, terrified of what the future held for us, we found the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.

As members of Narcotics Anonymous, our experience is that addiction is a progressive disease. The progression may be rapid or slow, but it is always downhill. As long as we are using drugs, our lives will steadily get worse. It would be impossible to precisely describe addiction in a way that is agreeable to everyone. However, the disease seems to affect us in the following general ways. Mentally, we become obsessed with thoughts of using. Physically, we develop a compulsion to continue using, regardless of the consequences. Spiritually, we become totally self-centered in the course of our addiction. Looking at addiction as a disease makes sense to a lot of addicts because, in our experience, addiction is progressive, incurable, and can be fatal unless arrested.

In Narcotics Anonymous, we deal with every aspect of our addiction, not just its most obvious symptom: our uncontrollable drug use. The aspects of our disease are numerous. By practicing this program, we each discover the ways in which our addiction affects us personally. Regardless of the individual effects of addiction on our lives all of us share some common characteristics. Through working the First Step we will address the obsession, the compulsion, the denial, and what may have termed a “spiritual void.”

As we examine and acknowledge all these aspects of our disease, we start to understand our powerlessness. Many of us have had problems with the idea that , as addicts, we are obsessive and compulsive. The idea that these words applied to us may have made us cringe. However, obsession and compulsion are aspects of our powerlessness. We need to understand and acknowledge their presence in our lives if our admission of powerlessness is to be complete. Obsession, for us, is that never-ending stream of thoughts relating to using drugs, running out of drugs, getting more drugs, and so on. We simply can’t get these thoughts out of our minds. In our experience, compulsion is the irrational impulse to continue using drugs, no matter what happens as a result. We just can’t stop. We address obsession and compulsion here as they relate to our drug use because, when we firstly come into the program, our drug addiction is how we identify with each other and the program. As we continue in our recover, we will see how these aspects of our addiction can manifest themselves in many areas of our lives.

Denial is the part of our disease that makes it difficult. If not impossible, for us to acknowledge reality. In our addition, denial protected us from seeing the reality of what our lives had become. We often told ourselves that, given the right set of circumstances, we might still be able to bring our lives under control. Always skillful at defending our actions, we refused to accept responsibility for the damage done by our addiction. We believed that if we tried long and hard enough , substituted one drug for another, switched friends, or changed our living arrangements or occupations, our lives would improve. These rationalizations repeatedly failed us, yet we continued to cling to them. We denied that we had a problem with drugs, regardless of all evidence to the contrary. We lied to ourselves, believing that we could use again successfully. We justified our actions, despite the wreckage around us resulting from our addition.

The spiritual part of our disease, the part we may recognize only by a feeling of emptiness or loneliness when we first get clean, is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of addiction for us. Because this part of our disease affects us so profoundly and so personally, we may be overwhelmed when we think about applying a program of recovery to it. However, we need to keep in mind that recovery doesn’t happen overnight for anyone.

As we start to look at the effects of our disease, we are sure to see that our lives had become unmanageable. We see it in all the things that are wrong with our lives. Again, our experiences are individual and vary widely from addict to addict. Some of us realized our lives had become unmanageable because we felt out of control emotionally or began to feel guilty about our drug use. Some of us have lost everything-our homes, our families, our jobs, and our self-respect. Some of us never learned how to function as human beings at all. Some of us have spent time in jails and institutions. And some of us have come very close to death. Whatever our individual circumstances, our lives have been governed by obsessive, compulsive, self-seeking behavior, and the end result has been unmanageability.

Perhaps we arrived in NA without recognizing the problems we had for what they were. Because of our self-centeredness, we were often the last ones to realize that we were addicts. Many of us were persuaded by friends or family to begin attending NA meetings. Other members received even stronger encouragement from the courts. No matter how it occurred, our long-standing illusions had to be shattered. Honesty had to replace denial before we could face the truth of our addiction.

Many of us recall the moment of clarity when we came face to face with our disease. All the lies, all the pretenses, all the rationalizations we had used to justify where we stood as a result o four drug use stopped working. Who and what we were became more clear,. We could no longer avoid the truth.

We have found that we cannot recover without the ability to be honest. Many of us came to NA after spending years practicing dishonesty. However, we can learn to be honest, and we must begin to try. Learning to be honest is an ongoing process: we are able to become progressively more honest as we work the steps and continue to stay clean. In the First Step, we begin to practice the spiritual principle of honesty by admitting the truth about our drug use. Then we go on to admit the truth about our lives. We face what is, not the way things could be or should be. It doesn’t matter where we from or how good or bad we think we’ve had it: when we finally turn to Narcotics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps, we begin to find relief.

As we begin working the First Step, it is important to ask ourselves some basic personal questions: Can I control my use of drugs? Am I willing to stop using? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to recover? Given a choice between finding a new way of life in NA and continuing in our addiction, recovery begins to appeal to us.

We begin to let go of our reservations, those parts of ourselves we won’t surrender to the program. Most of us do have some reservations when we first get clean. Even so, we need to find ways of addressing them. Reservations can be anything: a belief that, because we never had a problem with one particular drug, we can still use it: placing a condition on our recover, such as only staying clean as long as our expectations are met: a belief that we can still be involved with the people associated with our addiction; a belief that we can use again after a certain amount of time clean; a conscious or unconscious decision to work only certain steps. With the help of other recovering addicts , we can find ways to put our reservations behind us. The most important thing for us to know about reservations is that, by keeping them, we are reserving a place in our program for relapse.

Recovery begins when we start to apply the spiritual principles contained in the Twelve Steps of NA to all areas of our lives. We realize, however, that we cannot begin this process unless we stop using drugs. Total abstinence from all drugs is the only way we can begin to overcome our addiction. While abstinence is the beginning, our only hope for recovery is a profound emotional and spiritual change.

Our experience shows that it is necessary for us to be willing to do anything it takes to obtain this precious gift of recovery. In recovery, we will be introduced to spiritual principles such as the surrender, honesty, and acceptance required for the First Step. If we faithfully practice these principles, they will transform our perceptions and the way we live our lives.

When we first begin to practice these principles, they may seem very unnatural to us. It may take a deliberate effort on our part to make the honest admission called for in Step One. Even though we are admitting our addiction, we may still wonder if this program will really work. Acceptance of our addiction is something that goes beyond our conscious admission. When we accept our addiction, we gain the hope of recovery. We begin to believe on a deep level that we, too, can recover. We begin to let go of our doubts and truly come to terms with our disease. We become open to change. We surrender.

As we work the First Step, we find that surrender is not what we thought it was. In the past, we probably thought of surrender as something that only weak and cowardly people did. We saw only two choices: either keep fighting to control our using or just cave in completely and let our lives fall to pieces. We felt we were in a battle to control our using and that, if we surrendered, the drugs would win. In recovery, we find that surrender involves letting of our reservations about recovery and being willing to try a different approach to living life. The process of surrender is extremely personal for each one of us. Only we, as individuals, know when we’ve done it. We stress the importance of surrender, for it is the very process that enable us to recover. When we surrender, we know in our hearts that we’ve had enough. We’re tired of fighting. A relief comes over us we finally realize that the struggle is over.

No matter how hard we fought, we finally reached the point of surrender where we realized that we couldn’t stop using drugs on our own. We were able to admit our powerlessness over our addiction. We gave up completely. Even though we didn’t know exactly what would happen, we gathered up our courage and admitted our powerlessness. We gave up the illusion that we could control our using, thereby opening the door to recovery.

Many of us begin the process of surrender when we identify ourselves at an NA meeting with our name and the words, “I am an Addict.” Once we admit that we are addicts and that we cannot stop using on our own, we are able to stay clean on a daily basis with the help of other recovering addicts in Narcotics Anonymous. The paradox of this admission is evident once we work the First Step. As long as we think we can control our drug use, we are almost forced to continue. The minute that we admit we’re powerless, we never have to use again. This reprieve from having to use is the most profound gift we can receive, for it saves our lives.

Through our collective experience, we have found that we can accomplish together what we cannot do alone. It is necessary for us to seek help from other recovering addicts. As we attend meetings regularly, we can find great comfort in the experiences of those traveling this path with us. Coming to NA has been described by many members as “coming home.” We find ourselves welcomed and accepted by other recovering addicts. We finally find a place where we belong.

Though we are sure to be helped by the sharing we hear at meetings, we need to find a sponsor to help us in our recovery. Beginning with the First Step, a sponsor can share with us his or her own experience with the steps. Listening to our sponsor’s experience and applying it to our own lives is how we take advantage of one of the most beautiful and practical aspects of recovery: the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. We hear in our meetings that “I can’t, but we can.” Actively working with a sponsor, we learn about the principle of trust. By following the suggestions of our sponsor instead of only our own ideas, we learn the principles of open-mindedness and willingness. Our sponsor will help us work the steps of recovery.

Talking honestly with our sponsor about our drug use and how it affected our lives will help us work the First Step thoroughly. We need always to remember where we came from and where our addiction took us. We have only a daily reprieve from our active addiction. Each day, we accept the fact that we cannot use drugs successfully.

The process of recovery isn’t easy. It takes great courage and perseverance to continue in recovery day after day. Part of the recovery process is to move forward in spite of whatever may stand in our way. Because long-lasting change in recovery happens slowly, we will turn to the First Step again and again.

Even long periods of abstinence do not guarantee us continued freedom form the pain and trouble that addiction can bring. The symptoms of our disease can always return. We may find that we are powerless in ways we never imagined. This is where we begin to understand how the things we tried so hard to control are, in reality, completely beyond our control. No matter how our disease displays itself, we must take its deadly nature into account. As we do, we develop a fuller awareness of the nature of our disease.

The disease of addiction can manifest itself in a variety of mental obsessions and compulsive actions that have nothing to do with drugs. We sometimes find ourselves obsessed and behaving compulsively over things we may never have had problems with until we stopped using drugs. We may once again try to fill the awful emptiness we sometimes feel with something outside ourselves. Any time we find ourselves using something to change the way we feel, we need to apply the principles of the First Step.

We are never immune from having our lives become unmanageable, even after years of recovery. If problems pile up and our resources for coping with them dwindle, we may feel out of control and in too much pain to do anything constructive for ourselves. We feel overwhelmed by life, and that feeling seems to make everything worse. When our lives seem to be falling apart, we reapply ourselves to the basics of the NA Program. We stay in close contact with our sponsor, work the steps, and go to meetings. We surrender again, knowing that victory lies in the admission of defeat.

The feeling of love and acceptance we find in the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous allows us to begin recovering from our addiction. We learn a new way to live. The emptiness from which we suffered is filled through working and living the Twelve Steps. We learn that our addition is being addressed in all its complexity by this simple program. We have found a solution to our hopelessness.

There is a deeply spiritual nature to our program of recovery. The Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous will take us on a journey that will far exceed our expectations. Working and living the steps will lead us to a spiritual awakening. Step One is the beginning of this spiritual journey. To get started on this journey, we must become willing to surrender to this program and it’s principles, for our future hinges on our willingness to grow spiritually.

We are starting a new way of life, one that offers great joy and happiness. However, recovery doesn’t exempt us from pain. Living life on life’s terms, combines moments of happiness with moments of sadness. Wonderful events are mixed with painful ones. We will experience a full range of feelings about the events in our lives.

By honestly looking at what we have become in our addiction, we recognize the powerlessness and unmanageability of our lives. Moving beyond our reservations, we accept our addiction, surrender, and experience the hope that recovery offers. We realize that we can no longer go on as we have been. We are ready for a change. We are willing to try another way. With our willingness, we move on to Step Two.

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