In early recovery and through experience with the 12 Step fellowship, understanding the true meaning of powerlessness is vital to the process.
When I realized that powerlessness was not only about the drugs and alcohol, I found a sense of freedom. I didn’t need to try control everything around me anymore, people, places and things would stay the same regardless of how hard I tried to change them. My over inflated sense of purpose allowed me to believe that I could literally control people, like a puppet master. Once the smoke cleared, excuse the pun, I noticed that not only did I not have control over things around me but I didn’t have control of myself.
Step One talks about me being powerless over my addiction, that statement answered the question that burned like fire in me. Deep down in those dark moments, I questioned with sincerity…
What is wrong with me?
An in-depth study of Step One shows me exactly what’s wrong with me, further understanding the condition shows that there is like an allergic reaction to drugs and alcohol or any mood and mind-altering substance. A small percentage of the population don’t have the STOP button. We develop the phenomenon of craving that alludes the majority of the population. If you’re like me, once you start drinking or using, the ability to make rational decisions disappears. I hit the STOP button but nothing happens, autopilot has been engaged. This is where a lot of people argue, does the powerlessness kick in straight away? Does it take a few “slips” before the phenomenon of craving starts? Maybe it’s different for different people. In my experience, that process is very unpredictable. What I do know and this is from proven experience, at some stage, I will take that second drink, pill or pipe. It might not be the same day or even the same week but it will happen. My experience also shows me that at some stage after that, I will hit the proverbial wall. Once addiction has fully kicked in again and the powerlessness has taken hold, without intervention I will use until I die.
This might sound extreme but it’s a reality for me.
The major point and factor in that example is that I lose control. I have a two-phase process that takes place. Firstly I develop the craving and secondly, my mind starts to obsess. My rational decision-making ability has been distorted and is now running on the need to satisfy the craving at any cost. Now through that process, I start to develop shame and guilt because of the damage I’m doing to myself and those around me, relationships fall apart, trust goes out the window and I need to use more to block out the feelings that are being brought to life through the actions. It’s a circle that doesn’t end easily.
So many people go through this and don’t know how to break free, if you take a real honest look at your powerlessness and understand what it really means in this context, you’ll understand that using in any amount of any drug is not going to work, regardless of how strong your self-will is.