“You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we’re not. We always have the power of our minds…Claim and consciously use your power.” ― Louise L. Hay
Before an individual can truly begin his or her journey of addiction recovery, he or she must understand and admit powerlessness. This can be a confusing concept, seeing as admitting powerlessness might seem like it means admitting helplessness – admitting an inability to change or heal. In reference to addiction recovery, powerlessness simply means that we have lost the ability to control our intake mood and mind altering substances.
Most people can safely use chemical substances, from legal and widely used substances like alcohol and marijuana to illicit substances that are frequently used in social settings, like cocaine and hallucinogenic drugs. It is normal for people to experiment with substances – especially during their youth. Most people will try a drug once or twice and move on completely. When it comes to substances that are frequently used and socially acceptable – predominantly alcohol – most individuals will drink socially and on occasion, and will not drink to excess. If an individual experiences a consequence as a result of his or her substance abuse, that will typically be it. There will be no issue with walking away from the substance completely. Those who have a propensity for substance abuse and dependence, on the other hand, will have a difficult time stopping on their own, regardless of what personal consequences are experienced. This is where the powerlessness comes into.
Have you tried to cut back or quit only to find that you were unable to do so for any extended period of time? Do you often find yourself consuming more of a chemical substance then you intend to? Have you been unable to quit despite rapidly accumulating consequences? If the answer is “yes,” then you might very well be grappling with a serious substance use disorder.
Admitting Powerlessness – The First Step
When it comes to the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, the very first step is “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” The first step of AA revolves around surrender. Basically, we are saying, “I can’t do this on my own, I’ve already tried. If I really want to recover then I need to reach out for help.” If you have ever been through the recovery process beforehand – medical detox, inpatient treatment and ongoing aftercare – then you already understand how important surrender is. This can be tricky, seeing as active addiction is a disease of denial. We go to great lengths to convince ourselves that everything is peachy keen and we can handle things on our own. For most addicts and alcoholics, reaching out for help and admitting powerlessness is the most difficult part of the recovery process by far.
Most people who come into Alcoholics Anonymous come in with a wide range of serious personal issues, from a shattered ego and overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame to an inability to effectively communicate with others. All of these issues can be effectively remedied over time, but in order for AA to be effective the first step must be worked thoroughly. There are many things that members of AA can do to work through the first step.
Some of these things include:
- Making a list of consequences.
- Making a list of the ways in which your addiction has made your life unmanageable.
- Making a list of the ways in which you have become powerless over drugs and alcohol.
- Ask yourself some questions that will help you understand the meaning of powerlessness in the context of drug and alcohol addiction.
Some of the questions you might consider asking yourself include:
- How has my addiction affected me personally? What impact has it had on my personal life, on my friends and family members, on my career, on my finances and on my health?
- Do I find myself regularly blaming other people for my behavior?
- Am I proud of the way I have been acting and conducting myself?
- Am I still holding onto reservations regarding drug and/or alcohol use?
- Am I willing to do everything it takes to get and stay sober?
- Do I accept the fact that I am an alcoholic, or do I still think that maybe I can control my drinking or my drug use someday in the future?
- Why do I want to get sober? How will sobriety benefit me and improve my life?
Once we become comfortable admitting our powerlessness, how do we go about reclaiming our power? First, we have to understand that we will never be able to control our drinking or our drugging – we will always be powerless over chemical substances if we start using them again. We can reclaim power over alcohol and other drugs, but we need to understand that in order to do so, we can never safely pick them up. Our power comes from sobriety. As soon as we do get sober, we will also regain power over our own lives. We will no longer be slaves to chemical substances, living our lives to drink and to drug and to die. We will be able to take control of things again – remedy our wrongs, pursue our personal goals and become the functional member of society we always knew we could be.
The journey of self-discovery is truly beautiful, but it is not always easy. In order to discover ourselves thoroughly we must be completely honest with ourselves, and this means taking a fearless and searching look at the good and the bad simultaneously. For some of us, looking at the good parts of ourselves is even more difficult than coming to terms with the bad. For others, placing the blame on other people, places and things is all but second nature. In order to recover, we must understand that there is something bigger than us – that we are not the end all be all (by any means). This is where spirituality will come into play. In early recovery, however, focusing on surrender and powerlessness will be the most important. Spirituality will be developed over time.
Chapel Hill Detox – Comprehensive Medical Detox
At Chapel Hill Detox, we offer comprehensive medical detox services to individuals who have decided they are in fact powerless over drugs and alcohol and are ready to take the first step on their personal journey of addiction recovery. We understand how difficult seeking help can be, and we are available to make the admissions process as simple and straightforward as possible in order to help you get the professional care you need in a timely and efficient manner. We also understand that the window of opportunity is generally small – individuals who are suffering at the hands of a severe substance abuse disorder might not remain willing to seek the help they so desperately need (consuming addiction is a disease of denial, as previously mentioned). If you or someone you love is in need of medically monitored detox, give us a call today and we will begin setting up a date for admission.
At Chapel Hill, our medical detox program offers an unmatched level of quality clinical care in a state-of-the-art facility. Our team of experienced medical professionals is equipped to treat withdrawal symptoms of every type and severity. For more information, give us a call today.