No addict likes to admit powerlessness, and no one wants to admit that his life has fallen apart, and there is nothing he can do to reverse the downward spiral. Our culture tells us we can do it on our own, that we can fight our own demons, or that we don’t have any at all. We wonder if we can’t control our drug and alcohol abuse, what else are we unable to control? We bristle against the thought of admitting we don’t know what to do, and all of our best efforts have been in vain. Our pride rears up against hard and uncomfortable admissions. Thus, going for an addiction treatment facility seems to be out of the option for many addicts.
The first hurdle to tackle in addiction treatment is fear. You may think you aren’t afraid of anything, but how does the idea of never drinking again strike you? What do you think of telling your family and closest friends that you are a drunk? The idea of admitting powerlessness scrambles our sense of self and our place in the scheme of our life. We are afraid of what might happen if the truth gets out. We are afraid of leaving our present life to enter an unknown world. While life as we know it may be truly unmanageable, it is at least familiar.
Denial is a second hurdle. Alcoholics persist for years and sometimes decades, believing that if they don’t admit a problem, then there isn’t one. Many also assume (mistakenly) that if they finally break down and get honest about their drinking, then they will have to find a way to do something about it. Deep down, they know they have no answers. It is easier to deceive ourselves into believing that we’ve got it together than to have to deal with the consequences of admitting we, in fact, do not.
And how do we know if we are genuinely powerless? What if we just haven’t found the right approach yet? Can we really get well if we haven’t ‘hit bottom’? What if there is an easier way, and we just haven’t figured it out yet?
Fear is a legitimate emotion, but we have to become more realistic about it. Which is scarier, admitting you don’t have it together when it comes to alcohol or signing the rest of your life away to the bottle? Transformation occurs one day at a time, and you are not alone.
Admitting powerlessness in the face of alcohol addiction doesn’t mean you now have to figure out what to do about it. It means you don’t! Alcoholics can’t cure their alcoholism any more than a cancer patient can cure his cancer. But in order to get help, you must admit you need it. You will be surprised at the wave of peace and comfort that follow.
Find your own bottom. You don’t need to lose your job, your car, your family, your entire savings, or your self-respect in order to see that you have a problem with alcohol that you can’t control, and it’s only getting worse. Take a moment to review your history with alcohol. Notice how the disease tends to get worse rather than better. Recognize that you have a problem, admit it, and be thankful you didn’t have to multiply the destruction before admitting your need for help.
The longer you persist in trying to find the right way to drink and live sanely, the longer you delay the prospect of sanity and sobriety. Make peace with alcohol as you would a deceased loved one. Have the courage to admit you can’t control yourself and then surrender to the wisdom of the Twelve Steps and the people who practice the program. If you say you have nothing, you’ll gain everything.