Reach for Empowerment

Whether you call it alcohol abuse, alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, alcohol addiction is deadly. Sometimes it takes people quickly for reasons obviously related to drinking. Sometimes it takes people suddenly in accidents or violent outbursts. Sometimes alcohol abuse compounds depression and inspires suicide and sometimes it slowly erodes the quality of a person’s life dissolving their relationships and self-esteem before they die of cancer, stroke, or heart attack that could have been prevented.

“We Love it, we commiserate with it, we celebrate with it, but you have a Problem with It, and Nobody wants to talk to You”

That’s how the BBC series ‘Like Minds: Why is using alcohol to cope so common?‘ begins. Alcohol abuse can be a deeply depressing subject to discuss and anyone who has been in a recovery community for long sees a lot of relapse, a lot of despair, and a lot of death. It’s no wonder the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous start with:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

My alcohol addiction was the kind that would most likely have eventually taken me slowly after further eroding my relationships and self-esteem. I was a traditional high-functioning alcoholic, drinking 10 or more units quickly most nights but getting up early to make my kids breakfast and run off to work while the hamster wheel went round and round. I never hit the kind of rock bottom from which I was able to say humbly that i was powerless or that my life had become unmanageable. When I stopped drinking I felt a bit guilty and nervous about resisting that famous first step but I knew that it was empowerment I was reaching for.

I found an online community that allowed me to work my own recovery the way that I needed to work it. I read voraciously, and stayed accountable by writing almost every day and my recovery surprised me by being the discovery of the voice I’d drowned for years.

A friend of mine from the online community where I worked through my first sober year did a wonderful rewrite of the 12 steps recently.

Melbsy’s 12 steps :

1. We admitted that we were harming ourselves and recognised that we could not go on as we were – we look ahead to the gifts that sobriety offers us. related reading Sobriety Offers Everything that Alcohol Promised – Except the Hangover!

2. We took ownership for our situation, and acknowledged that only we are in control of our destiny. Seeking medical assistance when we are overwhelmed. related reading Using Antabuse to Beat the Binge Drinking Routine

3. (repetition – see 2) related reading How do you Stop Drinking? Our Community Shares What Worked for Us

4. We spent time on reflection and self-learning. Understanding our triggers and making plans to respond differently to them. related reading Want to stop drinking? Start with a Plan and Share It!

5. We held ourselves accountable by telling those close to us our plans to be Alcohol Free. related reading Is Alcohol Dissolving Your Relationships ?

6. We acknowledge that rather than having defects in character, we are human; and we are addicted. related reading Letting go of Denial – Stop Drinking and Stay Sober on Your Terms

7. We make active plans to change our habits. related reading Write Your Own Narrative

8. We recognise that those we have hurt may never forgive us; but we do what we can to make amends and we honor them by living our lives without alcohol. related reading A Letter to My Daughter from Her Newly Sober Mum

9. (repetition – see 8) related reading It’s in Your Hands

10. We take ownership of our actions, we grow and learn from them. related reading How I Stopped Drinking and Stayed Sober – A Shift in Focus

11. We meditate, we note our gratitudes and we appreciate life – every day. related reading Learning to Meditate – Transcendental Meditation, Awareness and Emotional Regulation

12. Having been through growth and learning, we pay it forward by providing support in communities, to friends who need us, and we live by example. related reading There is no “Quick Fix” – Community is the Cure

If you, like me, do not resonate with the traditional steps to recovery don’t be afraid and don’t feel guilty. Find your own way. In the end, finding your own way in a culture that glorifies the need to drink, is what sobriety is all about!

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