Search Words

Monday, October 14, 2013

Taking a Non-Addict Through the Steps

Though I have tried, I have never been able to successfully coach a non-addict through the Steps.  In the cases I have attempted, it has been with people who have had no progress with standard counseling and, in my opinion, would have really benefited from the unloading process the 12 Steps offer.

In each case, people dropped out during the Fourth Step.  The universal exclamation... "It just hurts too much!"

I tried to explain that this pain is what is inside and needs to come out, but in every attempt to explain this I was met with a stone wall.  So, I had to let it go, because you can't help people who don't want help.

That's not to say that they didn't beg and plead for a remedy to their suffering.  Heck, they convinced me and even said plainly that they would do 'anything' to get free of their inner turmoil and insecurities.  Still, when push came to shove, they threw in the towel.

The fact of the matter is that many alcoholics and drug addicts will die of their disease before they get sober.  They face monumental evidence that their bodies are disintegrating and yet they will not work the Steps.

"Many are called, but few are chosen."

What does this mean?  Why does it seem like some get it and many don't?  Was (the archheretic) Calvin right?  Does God make many of us just to be damned to our own suffering?

I've thought a lot about this.  Here's my conclusion:

Life does not make sense without death.  Unless you understand death, you cannot make sense of addiction or recovery or even the Steps.

Everyone must die.  Yet, we believe we will continue on living after death, and so this death is not an absolute death, but a 'type' of death.  And so, the Christian undergoes other 'types' of death, such as Baptism and Confession and Asceticism, and so he experiences life.  The addict goes through other deaths as he works the Steps.

Yet, all face the same death in the end.  We all come to the same conclusion, even if we reject all of these other deaths.  The difference comes with how we will experience both the final death and the life afterwards.

This life trains us to enjoy the next one with even greater fullness.  We are all called to experience this fullness completely, yet some are not 'chosen' because, even if they were, they will not respond to this.  Look at Israel in the Old Testament: God chooses them, and they spend the entire rest of the OT waffling.  Some chose to be chosen, and others choose not to.

God loves us whether we choose to go through the Steps or not.  God will resurrect us all, whether we choose to be resurrected or not.  But, He also chooses some of us for recovery because He knows we will also choose to recover.  He offers this choice to everyone, but He also will not force us to recover.  The only thing He 'forces' on us is life itself.  We cannot choose to not exist.

The non-addict has a choice to use the Steps to better enjoy the blessings God has prepared for us all, just as the addict has a choice to engage in recovery and enjoy those same blessings.  Non-addicts often have just as much inner pain as addicts, yet they can be just as hard-headed.

So, a non-addict contacted me and wants to try the Steps.  It really is all that I can offer people because I don't know any way out of misery than the path that I took, and so this is the only path I am qualified to guide others through.  Any other alternative I know only in theory.  Whether this person will work all the Steps or not, I can't say.  I hope so.  The Steps have freed millions of people.  But, there are also many more people who have tried the Steps and failed.

All we can do is keep offering the hope we have received, knowing that the choices of others cannot change the truth of our own experiences.

The difference will be whether this person is willing to die to the self.  Addicts often have the incentive of staring death in the face in a way that non-addicts do not.  Many addicts choose to die holding onto a painful life rather than embracing death as a path to eternal life.

In the end, even this awful reality has some hope: I think so long as man is willing to live, God will grant him life.  It is only the man who rejects life, and particularly the life in God, who is beyond all hope.  Therefore, the addict who dies in his disease is not so damned as the non-addicted man who rejects God rejects life.  There are such monsters.

We all have hope, non-addicts and addicts alike.  We all have the choice.  If we choose, then we can also be comforted knowing that God chooses us as well.  He would choose us all if we would be chosen.

1 comment:

  1. As a non-addict (unless you count coffee), I probably would fail on the 1st step, not the fourth. :) Actually, I believe the Steps and a lot of stuff that has to do with recovery can be used by non-addicts. I think it is because it has to do with problems of human nature, social life and spirituality that are common for everybody. I would try the steps had it not been for the fact that I approached my salvation through a more spiritual/ascetic path. It's just how it worked out for me. Yet, really, if I honestly think about it, I don't think I would do well in the Steps because they are very engaging. So, I can understand why others might fail. I am more of a contemplative type which can be good in its on own way, but is limited when it comes to more practical, outward stuff.