Saturday, May 14, 2011

Step One

Passing many of the Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous is one of the requirements to progress through the rehab program.  So, he had to complete this Step 1 Packet and then pass it off to a Step Advisor.

This is the packet:
Step 1
                We admitted we were powerless over alcohol/drugs—that our lives had become unmanageable.
                Before starting on Step One, you have to get right with some of the definitions involved.  People tend to struggle with terms like “powerless” and “unmanageable.”   We picture wild-eyed crazies who live in dark alleyways and rip off little old ladies for drug money.  We think, “I am not one of those people.  Sure, I have had a couple of ups and downs with my use, but I can stop any time I want.  No one has really given me a chance.”
                The 12-step (AA, NA, CA, etc.) definition of “Powerlessness” is very simple:  If you have had negative effects or Harmful Consequences from your use to any aspect of your life and you keep on using, you are, by 12-step definition, POWERLESS.  It means that you have lost control over your use. 
                It’s the same thing with “Unmanageable.”  It’s like being pregnant—either you are or you’re not!  You can’t be kind of, sort of, almost, or maybe!  Either you have been in full control over your use or you haven’t.  This means that unless you have had complete control over the amounts you consume, and the effects of your use in all aspects of your life, you are not fully in control of your use.  If you are not in complete control, then your use is not completely manageable.  Therefore, in AA’s definition, you are experiencing “unmanageability” in your life and in your use.
                It is the 12-Step work that you will be working on in recovery and treatment.  Now that you understand their definition, try to answer the following questions with this in mind.

Step 1:  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or drugs)—that our lives had become unmanageable. 
Let’s see how much you’ve lost because of drugs or alcohol.
How?  By completing the First Step and admitting the truth.
Fill in these pages.  It’s time to stop lying and to get honest with yourself.

Step 1:  Inventory
You have been admitted to a treatment program for drug or alcohol problems, and you aren’t sure whether you need to be here.  You may admit that you use “a little.”  But you’re not out of control.  Well…let’s see.  The purpose of Step 1 is for you to write down your problem and face how serious it is.

Be honest!!
This is a special opportunity.  It could mean life or death.  Don’t waste your time with lies.  Write the truth and let’s look at whether you have a problem.

Risk Taking
1.  Write about the times drugs or alcohol have put your life in danger.
I have been in a lot of fights when weapons were involved.  I have almost been hit by a car and I have done a lot of stupid s*#$ when I have been high.
2.  Did you risk the lives of others when you were using drugs or alcohol?
“In fights and while I was DUI.”
3.  Have you ever thought about killing yourself?  Explain.

Thinking Less of Yourself
1.  What have you done sexually when you were high that you wished you had not done?
(He wrote an answer to this question that kind of shocked me.  I talked to his therapist about his answer because it contradicted what he had told me when I asked him about sex the time we were doing his Harmfuls packet.  She told me that she was confident that he has not had sex.  So, I am not going to disclose the answer that he wrote on his packet.  I feel better going with the therapist’s feelings on this).
2.  Write about the times when someone has hurt you physically or the times when you have hurt others (being beaten up, rape, gang fights, etc).
“I have hurt and been hurt by others in fights.”
3.  What things have you done to get drugs or while on drugs that you told yourself you would never do?
“I would car hop and steal stuff from stores.”

Breaking the Law
1.  Give examples of times you have broken the law while using drugs or while trying to get money to use (shoplifting, stealing money or cars, prostitution, etc.).
“Shoplifting, car hopping, using drugs, and driving while I am 14 and high.”
2.  Tell about the times you were arrested, sent to jail or juvenile court, or just “picked up” by the police.
3.  Did you deal drugs or alcohol?   Where and to what age groups?
“Yes.”  “Mostly at school to 8th and 9th graders.”
4.  Have you ever used a false ID to buy alcohol or asked an adult to buy it for you?
5.  How many times have you skipped school to use alcohol or drugs?
Once or twice or many times?
“Many times”.
6.  How many times have you missed school because you were too sick from alcohol or drugs (hung over, hadn’t been to bed yet, etc.)?
Once or twice or many times?
“Many times.”
7.  Have you ever been suspended from school?  Why?
8.  Did your grades or school participation go down because of drugs? 
Describe what happened:
9.  Did you ever drink or use drugs on school grounds? 

Losing the Trust of Your Family
1.  What behaviors does your family complain about the most?
2.  Did your family know about your drug or alcohol problem?
3.  Have you ever done these things?  (Put a check next to the ones you’ve done.)
__X__a.  Tired to sneak out at night to get high.
__X__b.  Used drugs or alcohol at home.
__X__c.  Stolen money from family to buy drugs or alcohol
____d.  Used drugs and then lied to parents about it.

Issues with Friends
1.  Before you began using or drinking, did you have “straight” friends?
What things did you do with them for fun?
“Yes”  “Skateboarding, X-box, sports, card games, and pool.”
2.  Write about the friends you have now.  Are they drug users, straight, etc?
I still have all my sober friends and a lot of using friends.
3.  a.  If you still have straight friends, do they know that you use?
b.  What do they say or think about your drug or alcohol use?
4.  a.  What things did you do for fun that you don’t do anymore because of your drug or alcohol use? 
b.  Why did you stop doing them (don’t have time, too messed up to do it, drug friends don’t think it’s “cool”, etc)?
(he did not answer this question).
5.  Do you think you are part of the drug culture or group?   Why or why not?
“Yes”  “Because that is who I hang out with the most.”
6.  What did most people at your school (or neighborhood) think about you?  (What was your “image”?)
They thought I was a stoner and so did I.”

Effect on Your Body and Brain
1.  Put a check by the problems you have had because of drug or alcohol use.  Describe when the problem began, how often it occurs, and how much it bothers you.
__X__a.  Trouble with memory (blackouts, can’t remember things in school, can’t pay attention, etc.).
“I can never remember things and I can’t ever pay attention in school and it pisses me off.”
__X__.  b.  Getting dizzy
“I get dizzy a lot when I stand up.”
____c.  Having flashbacks or seeing trails.
____d.  Hands, feet, or legs getting numb.
__X__e.  Trouble sleeping
I have never been able to sleep without problems.
____f.  Getting the shakes (“nerves”) if you try to stay off drugs or alcohol.
____g.  Don’t care about doing anything.

Running Away from Painful Feelings
Sometimes you may drink or get high to escape from painful feelings of sadness or anxiety.  Write about these feelings and what caused them.
“I would have fights with my family and it would make me mad so I would use.”
 Effects on Your Mind
1.  Write about the times you were thinking about drugs or alcohol (or how to get them) when you were supposed to be thinking about school, work, or people.
“I was pretty much always thinking about getting and using drugs.”
2.  Give examples of things (like homework or chores) you forgot to do because you were high or drunk.
“None.  I never did homework anyway.”
3.  Have you ever tried to control how much you used drugs or alcohol (I’ll just smoke one joint, “ or “I’ll just have one drink,” or “I won’t use anything tonight.”)?
4.  Write about some of the times you ended up using or drinking too much anyway and couldn’t stop.
“I never really told (myself) I would only use this much.  I just used until everything was gone.”

Giving Up Plans for the Future
1.  If you had not come into this program now, what would have happened to you?
“My life would be a lot worse.  I would still be using and I would probably be in DT.”
2.  Before you started using or drinking, what plans and goals did you have for your life?
3.  How did your plans and goals change after you began using?
Addicts are people who, once they use a drug, have to keep using even though their life is a mess and getting worse.  They no longer care about school, job, family, or friends.  They will lie, cheat, and steal to get drugs.  The First Step is for you to see whether you are an addict or if you are on the way to becoming an addict.
1.  Do your answers to any of the questions help you see that your life is a mess because of drugs?   Which questions?
“Yes”  “Almost all of them.”
2.  Can you accept that you are an alcoholic or drug addict? ____Not sure—maybe I’m on the way to becoming an addict.
3.  May confess that they have no control over their drug use, but they don’t really believe it.  What would it take to make you believe you are powerless over using alcohol or drugs?
“I already know.”
4.  What about your life is most like an addict’s life?
“My entire life revolved around drugs.”
5.  Name things you could change (in a good way) about your life while in this program.
“Never start using in the first place.”
6.  Filling out these First Step questions could be use a joke, unless you have been totally______

Now you will present your First Step inventory to a First Step group so you can hear your own thoughts and get feedback.

Take the risk of being honest!

Your life depends on it!

After reading that packet, I thought that he should have had to complete it before he ever was released from residential treatment.  Really coming to terms with the fact that he was powerless when it comes to drugs probably would have been a good thing for him to have discovered BEFORE he came home and took all of his anger out on us for being put in rehab.

But, at least he said that he could accept the fact that he is an addict.  That makes me feel that maybe he is telling the truth every Friday when we go to AA and he says, “My name is ___ and I am an addict.”

I can’t believe that he was in all of these fights that he wrote about.  I didn’t ever see any evidence of having been in a fight, but I wonder if that is one of the reasons that he would claim to be sick some days—because he had been fighting and was hurting as a result of it.

What are some of the other stupid are that he has done?  He will probably never tell me.  I know that driving was an insane thing for him to do.  Not only was he driving someone else’s car (he better not have been driving mine!), but he could have killed someone, himself, and wrecked the car, too.  My husband and I could have been liable for his actions and we could have lost our son in a car accident. 

Knowing that he was stealing from people and cars makes me feel like somehow he missed the part where we taught him about honesty.  Of course, he seems to have forgotten a lot of what we taught him about everything from not smoking, drinking, and using drugs to basic right from wrong. 

It makes me anxious to even think about the fact that he dealt drugs to other kids.  Other parents have kids who use drugs and when they find out about it, like we did, they are going to be so mad at the drug dealer—just like we were—only the drug dealer is my kid this time.  What an awful circle of circumstances that is!

It is so agonizing to think that he could have died at any time due to using drugs. We would have been so shocked when we found out.  As far as we knew, our son would never do anything like that.

He said that he would get in arguments with his family and then go and use drugs because of it.  But, he also said that he was always thinking about getting and using drugs and that his life revolved around drugs.  In one instance he is blaming us and in the next instance he makes it sound like he is addicted.  No wonder he would have arguments with us--everything that we would talk about or want him to do had nothing to do with his daily desire to use drugs!

I hope he meant it when he said that if he had not been put in rehab that his life would be a lot worse.  Because at first, and for many weeks afterward, he thought that being put in rehab was the worst thing that had ever happened to him.

People say that some day he will get over being mad about it.

Some day he will thank us.

All of these days in between are so overwhelming, though.

I hope we all make it to some day.

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