31 Jul Asking for Help in Recovery
Asking for help is one of the most challenging things many of us will face when we first get clean, and often throughout our recovery journey. Do the famous last words, “I’ve got this!” sound familiar to anyone? The thing is, if we’re die-hard addicts, we don’t “got this,” but most of us at one point or another have wanted to think that we were in complete control of our drinking or using. The reality is that few people who’ve battled addiction and gotten clean have done so without help, whether it was through counseling, rehab, the twelve steps, or some other recovery program.
Step one of the twelve steps includes an admission of powerlessness – our lives have become unmanageable because of whatever it is that we’re using addictively. This could be drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or shopping. And, even after we get clean, it can simply be our own thoughts.
Actually, we’re likely always going to be powerless over our thoughts, but we can learn how to direct them. This usually involves turning our will and our lives over to the care of something that’s not, you know, ourselves. This can be a group of fellows in recovery or a God of our understanding. These things are interconnected as well – our thoughts and our addictions – so once we can grasp this concept of powerlessness, we’ll have a much better chance of remaining clean (and not going completely insane in the process).
While admitting that we’re powerless and we need help can be a challenge, it can sometimes be useful to make a list of the times we tried to control our own addiction and failed. This can help us to put our powerlessness into perspective and enable us to see just how much we truly don’t “got this.”
How many heavy drinkers reading this right now have vowed to only drink on weekends, or at special occasions like weddings, or only after 6 PM, and this list goes on? If you’ve ever engaged in this kind of planning and scheming around your drinking and repeatedly failed, well, you might be facing (or have faced) some unmanageability in your life. This is just one example of powerlessness – trying to control drinking and failing. But even feeling the need to control it in the first place generally stems from desperation. You can’t stop on your own.
Addicts tend to like to control things – yes, we’re control freaks, and we don’t like to ask for help. Sure, this is a generalization, but it sure does ring true for a lot of us. This is why the admission of powerlessness is actually one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves. It can set us on the road to recovery, and it can also help us to navigate other areas of our lives. Asking for help is empowering if viewed from the right angle. It’s also liberating because it frees us up from needing to control every little thing in our lives which can be excruciatingly exhausting.
This whole idea behind powerlessness in recovery is why so many of us benefit from sponsorship and step work. Sponsorship is another tool born out of the twelve steps, and it’s a very effective one for many people. Working with a sponsor gives us the opportunity to be accountable for our actions and our recovery, and to ask for help in areas of our lives that are unmanageable as they pertain to our addiction. It can also be a great way to start learning to ask for help in other areas of our lives, which many of us often begin to do after we’ve put together some clean time. We start to do grownup stuff. We hire accountants to help us with our bookkeeping, therapists to work with us on stuff that sponsors aren’t licensed to help us with, along with other types of mentors and specialists. If someone breaks an arm, for example, would you consider them weak for going to a doctor to have surgery or a cast put on rather than grabbing a stick from their backyard and tying it to their broken limb with a rope? Probably not.
That’s a far-out example, but are you starting to see how pretty much the entire planet of humans can’t do human by themselves? We need each other, and as addicts, in particular, we actually suffer from a disease, or a “dis-ease” if you don’t subscribe to the general disease model. That’s ok. But, however you choose to look at it, addiction stems from some root cause that we really can’t manage. If we could, then all of us who identify as addicts would just be able to put down the drink, the drug, the porn, the poker chips (or whatever our “drug” of choice is) down and never look back. But that’s not how we operate. Again, we don’t “got this,” and we can’t do it alone. And, thank God for this. Life is so much easier when we connect and lean on one another, and there’s a ton of freedom in being able to admit this.
As Johann Hari famously says, “the opposite of addiction is connection.” We’ve found this to be entirely true time and time again. It’s also pretty awesome that addiction has become more formally recognized over the years as a disease, whether you choose to call it one or not. The point being, there’s no reason to be ashamed of asking for help. The majority of us who have managed to put together any extended period of clean time have learned to ask for help, and our lives have changed tenfold as a result.
Kembali Recovery Center is here…
If you or someone you love is struggling to get clean or maintain recovery, Kembali can help. Contact us today to learn all about our different recovery programs. Remember, you can choose to view asking for help as a form of empowerment, and you never have to do this alone.