Health Magazine

Reworking The 12 Steps

Posted on the 27 March 2012 by Mrsmith

I recently had a chance to travel back to my hometown of Jupiter, Florida. It was the first time I’d been home in years. All my first experiences smoking weed, drinking alcohol, dropping acid and sniffing cocaine occurred in and around Jupiter. Although I am several years into my recovery, memories of buying and using leaped out at me from the parking lots, neighborhoods and strip malls like some boogie man from under the bed.

I didn’t even think about this memory parade happening until I actually set foot in Palm Beach County and started seeing old haunts. That’s because I tend to associate my “real” hardcore drug use with Oregon and North Carolina, since that’s where opiates sank their claws into me and I lost just about everything.

That’s what I was thinking about as we were driving down RCA Boulevard and we passed a tiny office park with pink stucco exteriors and Spanish-tiled roofs. A dentist office used to be there. When I was 22 years old, he pulled two of my teeth and prescribed me Percocet. That was the first time I ever ingested an opiate, and I loved it.

I forgot that this was where it all began. Even through countless hours of therapy, meetings, phone calls to sponsors and long hikes with recovering friends, I failed to take inventory of the place in my life where my entrance onto addiction’s long, dark highway began. I felt shocked.

I had a friend, who I met in the rooms. I will call this friend James. He’s been clean for 10 years. He told me he still reworks the 12 steps once a year for this very reason. “They say it can take your brain months to recover from addiction, years for some memories to bubble back up to the surface,” James said. “Especially the fourth step where you take the moral inventory of yourself. The eighth step, too, because no one is going to remember every person they hurt while they were using. I still have new memories show up from time to time.”

One of my previous sponsors, let’s call him Ed, urged me to do the same thing. “Reworking the 12 steps every year is not only a great way to keep from being complacent in your recovery, it’s a tool that helps you keep yourself in check and see if you are continuing to exhibit addictive behavior. Which as recovering addicts, we can still do even when we’re not actively using.”

When is the last time you worked the 12 steps? Did you search and make a fearless moral inventory or did you breeze over some parts? If you have not worked the 12 steps yet, what are you doing for your recovery? Did you try NA meetings online?


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