The 12 Step Workout: Use It or Lose It

“While you’re in the meeting, your addiction is out in the parking lot doing push ups.”

Of course, it’s also doing calisthenics when I’m sleeping, eating, talking — no matter how I’m passing my time, it’s getting more powerful, getting ready for the next relapse. One glass, one dose, one relationship can activate the whole slew of problems again and studies show that addiction returns with additional power after a time of disuse.

So, I can’t afford to stop working out. The way I build my program muscles is to ‘work the program’. Improve it or lose it. Because we never really stand still in spiritual growth. That means I must continue to grow spiritually by using the 12 Steps in my daily life. Otherwise, I may yield to my old insanity and lose my freedom, my good life.

Usually there is a triggering event that tips us over the edge into active addiction. The insanity of addiction is what happens in the days previous to the moments where we decide to engage in our addictive behavior. We gradually inch closer to the edge of disaster and just tip over into the abyss. We tip from sane behavior (being an inactive addict in recovery) to the free-fall of an active addict in relapse.

In those tipping moments, we believe that we can find a rush of fulfillment, a sense of satisfaction that we remember from our first days of gratification. If that belief is followed by indulgence, then the indulgence immediately triggers obsession. Once obsessed, it’s nearly impossible to stop the free-fall into wreckage.

Just think of anyone you know that goes from bad relationship to bad relationship. In the succession of wrong partners, each investment can become more damaging, more entangled and harder to recover from. The stakes get higher, the losses worse and the recovery more uncertain because of the entrenched life pattern.

The same principle is true for any obsession whether it be food, a substance, a co-dependent relationship, sex or any other behavior that has you by the throat, or… any other part of your body or mind.

I work my program so that I don’t relapse into my obsession (alcohol) and lose all the gifts that I’ve experienced as a result of the 12 Steps. I want my addiction to stay idle. I don’t want to free-fall into insanity ever again. The thought scares me. But I don’t need to fear because I am staying the course, doing the training daily, giving away what I’ve found and trusting in my God to stay close, keep me sane.

Heidi's SignaturePS: This is what those of us in the 12 Step programs believe:
We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous and free. ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2012 p 133