12 Steps to Recovery: Not a Cookie Cutter Solution

Written By: Katie Schipper

The Steps to Recovery Are Not the Same for All

Opinions on Taking 12 Steps to Recovery

Outside opinions on the inner workings of the 12 step to recovery range from mild curiosity to total disinterest to insistence that it is a cult. At it’s very core, AA and other 12 step recovery programs operate on the basis that if your wish is to remain anonymous then you have a safe haven in which to do so. It is on that foundation that you are able to build a recovery program for yourself – you do this through sponsorship and the guidance of those that have come before you, but in no way is AA a one-size-fits-all program. Anyone who sees it that way and represents it as such is operating from personal opinion. It’s hard for someone not in a recovery program to recognize the value of a support group and perhaps even more difficult to understand the concept of anonymity – hell, understanding those things is hard even for people in recovery. 12-step recovery is open to anyone with a desire to quit drinking and getting high and a slew of other addictions that are addressed by various programs. And the truth: the actual journey is going to look different for every single member.

steps to recovery

Learn about the first step of a 12 step program

The 12 steps of recovery is a process

The recovery process is exactly that: a process. It isn’t a 30 day stay at an addiction treatment for women wherein a lifetime of issues are resolved and you magically stay sober without doing anything other than drying out for a month. Recovery as a concept goes way beyond the scope of the 12 steps of recovery. It includes recovering from physical injuries, depression, emotional trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, the list is endless. Recovering from a break-up, from an ended friendship, from the death of someone you love. Recovering from these things doesn’t happen overnight. True, some are easier to get through than others but all real pain demands attention. Why would a drug addict or an alcoholic be any sort of exception from that concept? We don’t ask that someone get over it when they suffer an emotional loss (or at least we shouldn’t) – why would anyone expect that a lifestyle that is based on lies, fear, manipulation, denial, desperation, self-serving self-centeredness, and so on, would heal without some intense and ongoing work? In a 12 step recovery program (and there are other options for those that believe AA is a cult on a recruitment mission. Do your research; know your options) the initial work of going through step-work with a sponsor is based on an ordered set of suggestions that, simply put, clarify the strength and nature of what we face (addiction/alcoholism), advise that we face a lifetime of patterns and choices that for most of us reveal we have been running our lives based on fear, selfishness, or a combination of both, again suggest that we try and right some of the wrongs we did, and then, as the means by which we show gratitude and keep this recovery alive we offer to take a newly sober woman through the same process.

Learn about 12 step etiquette and the do’s and dont’s at meetings

No Requirement for “Membership”

None of these are requirements for membership. And even within the confines of the program there are always variants and adjustments and factors that make the experience unique for every individual. It is after getting through all 12 steps to recovery that it becomes abundantly clear that recovery is exactly what you make it. You get to decide what it means to live differently, if living differently is what you want. Suggestions are made in the rooms of AA and by sponsors and old timers and anyone with a mouth really, but the reality is is that you decide what rings true for you and speaks to your soul.

There is no right or wrong way

There isn’t a right or a wrong way to start getting honest about who you really are, the good and the bad. And at the end of the day as time goes on the spiritual principles that you truly value will begin to develop and you decide if you nurture them. You choose how you pray, how you meditate, how you help another person – you choose if you do those things at all. Recognizing that we are all unique people who happen to share a common bond is meant to empower rather than subjugate and it’s up to you to own that power however you see fit.

A Proportional Response to The Center For Motivation and Change

A member of AA reacts to The NY Times article about The Center For Motivation and Change

 Responding to “A Different Path To Fighting Addiction.”

On July 3rd, 2014 Gabrielle Glaser wrote an article for The New York Times entitled, “A Different Path To Fighting Addiction.” In this article, Ms. Glaser profiled The Center for Motivation and Change (CMC) located in New York City. The CMC rejects the AA model of substance abuse recovery, instead using a “practical, hands on approach to solving emotional and behavioral problems.” It does not ask its patients to swear off chemicals forever.

The Center For Motivation and Change

As an active member of AA, it was not the idea of “a new way” that brought on my frustration, indeed I love and welcome new ways to get sober. It was the misguided and unethical treatment of the facts that caused my eyes to roll. The article seemed more interested in bashing AA and it’s members, than in presenting the CMC’s treatment philosophy.

The Message from The Center For Motivation and Change

The article opens by stating that AA and Al-Anon “Either force them [the patients] into rehab or detach until they hit rock bottom.” It goes on to say, “Science tells us those formulas don’t work very well.” AA and Al-Anon don’t say that. In fact, AA and Al-Anon have no official position on how to achieve long-term sobriety. Some AA and Al-Anon members hold the view that hitting bottom and entering a treatment center work. The reason they hold this view is because, well, it works.

It worked for me. I’m the only person who can make the decision to get sober. The choice is mine and mine only. By letting the consequences of my addiction hit me square in the jaw, my parents gave me everything I needed to make the choice to get sober. Again, let me say, this was my path to AA and not what AA encouraged me to do. Once I was open to the idea of recovery, the twelve steps helped me find not only a way to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety, but a spiritual path to find my true self.

For the record, what AA actually says is,


1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to


3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature

of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make

amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do

so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly

admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with

God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us

and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to

carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our


Service Material from the AA General Service Office

That’s what AA says and what AA is about. It doesn’t say parents should “issue edicts, demanding an immediate end to all substance use,” or that AA is “an all-or-nothing commitment for life.”  What I found is that once I begin to practice the twelve steps, I didn’t want to live my life any other way. AA, and what it actually says, helped me become a better person. It helped with problems far surpassing my alcoholism. AA has given me a “practical approach to solving emotional and behavioral problems.” It’s worth noting that this “practical approach” is what The Center for Motivation and Change claims to do. Why, I ask, reinvent the wheel?

Perhaps, because as The Center For Motivation and Change states, “Science tells us those formulas [the twelve steps] don’t work very well.” Let’s examine what exactly science tells us.

In 1956, the American Medical Association voted to define alcoholism as a medical disease. The Center For Motivation and Change states that alcoholism is not a disease. It looks like they disagree with science on one major point. They also site numerous studies that say AA does not work. They’re correct, based on the studies they chose to reference, it doesn’t work. In fact, based on most studies, it appears that AA doesn’t work. Here lies the great issue of AA facts and figures, it’s an anonymous programs.

That Facts about The Center For Motivation and Changes Facts

AA members who work each step and practice AA’s principals in their affairs are taught humility and anonymity, thus encouraging them to stay quiet about their successes. AA members who attend a few meetings, don’t work the steps, and subsequently drink, are more likely to speak out. They’re more likely to blame AA for not working, than to accept personal responsibility for their actions.

AA is a program of action. Our literature states, “Faith without works is dead.” The recovering individual is simply a person living among you and working with you. Only when asked for assistance, will our anonymity be broken.  That is why study after study paint AA as a failure.

The only fact that’s proof of AA’s effectiveness is the only fact anyone needs to know. In 2006, there were a reported 106,202 AA groups worldwide, with a membership totaling 1,867,212 recovering individuals.

That statistic didn’t make it into the CMC’s article. My question for The Center For Motivation and Change is, scientifically, is it possible that 1,867,212 people are wrong, and the 25 of you are right?

Doesn’t seem possible.

Gabrielle Glasser’s article is posted here


How You Can Be Living Life on Life’s Terms

Written By: Anjelica G

Living Life on Life’s Terms Isn’t Always Easy

I Was An Addict Before I Started Using Drugs

My mother claims that even when I was younger I needed outside stimulation.  Simply living life in the world I was living in just wasn’t doing it for me. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV at home, but when I went to my friend’s houses I remember my best friend complaining to me that I wasn’t fun to be around because all I would do was watch TV. She used to say things to me while I was watching and I was so entranced that I didn’t hear her. To me, this is an early example of my difficulties with living life on life’s term and my alcoholic tendencies as drugs had a similar effect on me as TV. The world suddenly wasn’t so boring. I wasn’t interested in living life for what it was and found ways to escape, first as a young girl with TV and later as a teenager with drugs and alcohol.
life on life's terms

Read about how you can be living your dreams

An Escape from Life on Life’s Terms

Drugs took me away from the world I was living in. At the beginning they made life more exciting. With them came a variety of new experiences and new people. Many of the drugs I tried made the world change. I thought they were providing me with a new perspective. What I was unaware of was how they were also shortening my perspective. The group of people I hung out with became smaller and more selfish. We stopped talking about the world and instead spoke about the made up experiences in our minds that we found while under the influence. Drugs became our sole topic of conversation.  It was this kind of thinking that landed me in a treatment center for women.

Understanding the Concept of Life on Life’s Terms

Another aspect of this kind of thinking that lead me into drug abuse treatment was always thinking there was something more or better than living life at the moment. I didn’t understand the concept of life on life’s terms and I had distorted beliefs about what I deserved and what my life should look like. It was almost as if I was always waiting for something to happen.  The problem with this is that life was happening and I was just letting it pass by. By not accepting it for what it was I was choosing to ignore it. By making the decision that life was boring as it was and only drugs could enhance it I was missing out on the actual opportunities that life provides.

Read this amazing story about one women’s journey to sobriety

Living Life in Recovery

Humans are hardwired to endure. We have responses in our bodies like that of producing adrenaline when we are in a dangerous situation that have helped us for thousands of years to avoid dying or getting hurt. Today, these kinds of instincts are not put to use as often as they used to. Sometimes, alcoholics and addicts create situations to stimulate these senses. We create challenges and chaos in a world where we may not need to. When we stop creating fake realities to stimulate our senses or fake problems to make our lives more interesting the world can unfurl for what it is. I am constantly amazed by what I can do when I let life be now that I’m living life in recovery.

How To Be “Living in the Moment”

Written By: Katie Schipper

Enjoying the Gifts of Today by Living in the Moment

Nothing is More Important than Living in the Moment We Are In

The intensity with which we naturally tend towards thoughts of the future is so great that more often than not, on any given day, we are not living in the moment and instead we are completely missing out on the only thing that really exists, the exact moment that we are in. So much is lost by focusing only on the future and on outcomes: it causes (and in turn is caused by) anxiety, fear, and worry. Thoughts about the future are valuable, yes, but must never come at the expense of the present moment. Learning to be mindful of what is right in front of us is one of the gifts of being in an addiction recovery program. It’s not always easy to be mindful, but conceptually it is very simple and there are endless reasons why it’s worth exploring.

Read about Jim Carrey’s Speech on Living in Today

living in the moment

Living for Today Requires Practicing Mindfulness

The absolute and unavoidable reality for every person is that someday they will take their final breath and that for the majority of us we have no say in or knowledge of when that day will come. So the truth is that you can plan your future it; you can plan it out for a day, or a week, or you can know what you want to be doing years from now. You can do all that planning to what might seem a normal degree or even obsessively but in the end you might never see the day when all your planning comes to fruition. So the real why of practicing mindfulness and living in today is that you have no way of knowing which day will be your last. If all of your days are spent worrying about days to come, what room have you left for joy in your life? What room is left for actually living? That doesn’t mean you have to float on with no direction or become a monk or live outside of society (you can if you want to) but it does involve a very radical change in thinking – we are programmed to plan, think, worry about the future. It seems to be written in our DNA. But thoughts of the future don’t have to control us. Mindfulness takes on another meaning for the addict and alcoholic in that we must always remember that our sobriety begins when we arise in the morning and is contingent upon our acts that day – it doesn’t matter what we say we’ll do in the future and the days that have passed do not guarantee that we will stay sober for the day that we’re in. For the alcoholic and addict we have this exact moment to choose not to pick up a drink or to get high.  We learn that living in the moment and applying the knowledge we have gained in recovery to help us stay sober and enjoy the gifts of today.

Learn how to be grateful for today

How to Practice Living in the Moment and Enjoying the Gifts of Today

As mentioned early, living for today and mindfulness is a very simple concept. Simple and easy are not the same thing. It is simple enough for a child but the actual practice takes time, maybe even a lifetime to really learn. A very good place to start in any mindfulness practice is to focus on each inhale and exhale. From there, notice the things around you. What sounds do you hear? What is under your feet or in your hands? What can you see directly in your vision? What do you smell? Try to notice these basic senses without thinking about your to do list, what’s for dinner, an argument you had … try to notice what’s right in front of you for 60 seconds. Mindfulness is a practice that with time turns helps you enjoy the gifts of today – knowing that all we have is now sets us free to live fully in the only thing that is real.

Find a women’s alcohol treatment center that will help you learn how to live in today

A Letter To Josh Gordon

By: Tim Myers

Dear Josh Gordon

I get it. I understand. I’ve got your back. There’s not a lot of that being said to you right now in the media. There’s not a lot of anything except projection, advice and doomsday scenario banter. Oh, and all the should of, could of, would of’s. “He should of done this”, “I wish the NFL would of done that”, “The Browns could of done this”.

Dear Josh Gordon

I get it Josh Gordon, I understand and I’ve got your back. You’ve got a problem Josh, and I don’t mean to judge but based on the staggering facts alone, I’m pretty confident I’m right. Multiple substance abuse violations in college, drug arrests and citations involving marijuana, codeine cough syrup and alcohol in just the last 18 months. You are the premier star NFL wide receiver, yet your substance abuse stats fill the back of your trading card more thoroughly than your career numbers. You have a life and a career everyone would die for yet you are dying to give it all away.

I get it, because I did the same thing and so did my best friend and my uncle and my grandpa and my aunt and millions of people all over the world. We gave up everything so we could have one thing, Drugs. Then one day we decide to give up one thing to have… Everything.

Josh I have the greatest family in the history of the world ever, I have a college degree, a car and a great job but 3.5 years ago I decided that snorting cocaine, smoking pot, drinking ‘til I blacked out, driving drunk, and having guns pointed at my head were the most important things in my life.

They were. People like you and I Josh have a mental illness, a disease. It makes us do crazy things. It makes us feel so incredibly alone and scared that we keep using because no one will ever make us feel and loved and appreciated as drugs do.

That was my life, until one day a man named Chris told me, “Tim I don’t even know you, but I love you because you are just like me.” He got me, he understood me and he had my back. He told me that I was still alive so I could get sober and help other people stay sober. He showed me how to stay sober and he unlocked the enthusiasm, excitement, potential, love, compassion and determination that drugs and alcohol had been help captive for 10 years.

Josh, I live in Delray Beach Florida, a city known to have more residents recovering from drugs and alcohol than any other city in the US. Everyday I see people as lost and hopeless and I once was and with in a few months I see them again, alive, laughing, joking, happy and free! Yet sometimes I get the tacky, insensitive, sad and all too frequent facebook notification saying, “RIP Jane Doe, this disease claims another Angel”

Don’t become one of those angels Josh, don’t become another celebrity that shines a light on the death of addiction, become a warrior of recovery! Become the man you were always meant to be.

I was in rehab when Josh Hamilton entered the home run derby at Yankee Stadium. His long history of crack cocaine use had been exposed and talked about in the media for years. In rehab that night they let us watch the homerun derby. Ball after ball after ball went soaring over the fence as Josh set the single round record for home runs in a home run derby at the most historic ball park ever built. I cried, a lot of the other men in my unit cried. It gave us hope, it gave us someone to look up to. Not for what he was doing on the field but for what he did off the field.

You can be that guy Josh, hell, you already have the same first name so you’re halfway there! You can change other people’s lives Josh, but first you have to change your own. I wanna see you in the playoffs, I wanna see you catch a touchdown in the Super Bowl, I wanna wear your jersey and get your autograph, but not because of what you accomplish on the field. I want to be your biggest fan for what you achieve off of it. I love you Josh Gordon, because you are just like me.

I get it. I understand. I’ve got your back.

All of Us

Giving Back and Getting Back

Written By: Katie Schipper

Giving Back is Whats It’s All About

You Get What You Give

There’s a saying in recovery that gets repeated so often it sometimes loses its power: you’ll get from your sobriety exactly what you put into it. This initially sounds like another annoying cliché that may or may not have at one point had meaning, but it’s much more than that. The reality is that recovery can be viewed as a parallel for the rest of your life: what you put in, you’ll get back (and usually, you get back a little more than expected.)


Giving Back and Learning to Try

The early stages of recovery are usually very uncertain territory; even if you’ve tried to get sober before or gone for periods of time without drinking or getting high, the time that it sticks is usually (although not always) a particularly desperate time. Desperation seems to be one of the best gifts an addict or an alcoholic can receive, but with desperation can come fear and total uncertainty about what to do next. That is why a  drug rehab for women, an IOP therapy, a counselors, etc. suggest that the newly sober woman doesn’t wait to start focusing on her recovery. There is a window within that desperation that has been opened by pain – once that pain begins to subside the window starts to close – at some point, if work on recovery hasn’t begun, the initial pain and desperation will have subsided enough that reasons for staying sober magically disappear into thin air and drinking and getting high once again seem totally reasonable. If, however, one starts making some changes while the window is still open, there are immediate benefits. It is in this space that newly sober women can discover the value of trying – for so many of us we feel like we’ve been trying desperately for months, years, lifetimes to effect a change and nothing has happened. Most potential opportunities come up as dead ends in active addiction. Even for those women who managed to maintain a home or hold onto a job or relationship, there is usually a pervasive feeling of emptiness and self-doubt. Those feelings make the idea of trying for anything sound overwhelming – on a very personal and individual level, you have to be fed up with yourself to a point that change and effort seem the better option. One of the beautiful truths of recovery is that from that place of desperation can come a wellspring of hope. The only way to get there, however, is to learn to try in spite of past experiences that taught that trying was fruitless. This is the “giving” portion of getting back what you give – you have to try. You have to show up in spite of changing moods and circumstances. You have to put forth an effort regardless of how you feel in order to find out that there is value in doing so.
Read more about becoming grateful through giving! It’s so easy!

Getting Back What You Give

The flipside of giving back and trying and working and consistently showing up is what you get in return. And the reality of giving it all is that it has very little to do with what exactly you do rather than how you do it. The idea isn’t to reach a certain step or a certain life goal or a certain benchmark by a certain time – the idea is to move through recovery with your eyes ever on willingness, on honesty, on faith and on the other ideals of spiritual growth. With those concepts as a focus, the universe, God, your higher power, who or however you conceive of a loving consciousness, will give back to you endlessly. While there are, of course, material gifts for hard work (if you get a job and save money, you can move into an apartment and buy a car, etc.), the real reward comes in the form of what so many of us sought in a bottle, a pill, powder and so on: peace. Peace of mind, of body, of soul – what you find when you give ourselves to recovery is that within you there is a treasure that you can access at any time and that has always been and will always be there. That is what makes the work, the seeking, and the effort so worthwhile.

Read About the Blessing You Get in Sobriety From Giving

Living Your Dreams instead of Living With Regret

Written By: Katie Schipper

How Living Your Dreams Can Be a Real Thing

Paralyzing Fear Can Stifle All Dreams

Fear is the ultimate culprit when it comes to living your dream. This doesn’t just apply to drug addicts and alcoholics in early recovery, it applies to everyone. Fear can be totally paralyzing – there’s the fear of failure, the fear of what other people will think, the fear of what might go wrong. And then there is the power of regret which is really just a fear of the past and a fear that your not good enough. All of those fears with a million other offshoots on the same themes are responsible for killing dreams before they even have a chance to see the light of day. But there are some ways to keep the dream alive.

living your dreams

 See Jim Carrey’s amazing speak about living your dreams

Stop Living in Regret, Start Living Your Dreams

The first thing to remember is not to focus too much on eliminating fear and regret. If you focus on the negative side of things, that’s where your energy is going, thereby eliminating some of the focus you could be giving to actually living your dream. So don’t freak over the fact that you have fears and if your living with regret. Everyone has fear. Repeat: EVERYONE HAS FEAR. It’s in our DNA, it’s hardwired into our brains, we feel fear as an instinct designed to help us survive. But on a personal level, you can decide if that fear drives you or if you can acknowledge it and move beyond it. So focus on the positive. Which means whatever your dream is, start believing it now. Your can start living your dreams today! Tell yourself that your dream is already real. If your dream is to go back to school, believe that you are a student, tell yourself you are – you are. Say it out loud and have faith in it.

 See how one act of kindness help on homeless mans dreams come true

Living Your Dreams Starts with Saying it Until You Believe it

So you say it until you believe it and what then? You have to actually do it. Faith and intention are vital – they motivate and compel and drive. But you have to actually do it. You can’t just lie around dreaming about something and think it will happen without any work – that’s a fantasy and a day dream. But you can do anything that you dream is possible. The problem is that without meaningful, consistent, and focused effort all of those dreams will remain nothing more than good ideas.

Focus on the Now!

There is nothing that can be done today or tomorrow or the next day that will change the past so stop living with regret. Sometimes that thought really sucks, but from the right perspective it is very empowering – if you fully believe and understand and accept that you cannot change what has already happened then you also have to power to put all of your focus and energy into right now – what can you do differently today so that you don’t ever have to feel like you want to change the past? How can you learn how to turn your regret into motivation to really start living the life you have dreamed of? Those gifts aren’t reserved for an exclusive group – if you have the willingness to state your dream, to believe in your dream, and to do the things that make your dream a reality then you can live any life you choose without being a slave to fear and regret.

Are you a women who’s dreams are being destroyed by drugs and alcohol? Seek help at a treatment center for women

Dishonest Jobs in Sobriety

Written By: Katie Schipper

Living Dirty, Staying Clean

Trying to stay clean while living a dishonest life isn’t easy. It’s possible; if you’re in a 12-step fellowship you can watch it happen. But usually when someone is managing to stay sober while living dirty it’s because she is in a pretty intense state of denial about how she’s really living. The reasoning behind why it’s so hard isn’t complicated; you’re in a program that preaches honesty at every turn and meanwhile you are living in such a why that lying is a requirement for existence. Those two opposites can’t work together forever. The truth is that sometimes it takes time, a lot of time, for someone to realize that she is still lying to herself and it happens as a process and with support. But what about working a job that at its very core is based on lying, misleading, or dishonesty?

 dishonest jobs in sobriety

Justifying Dishonesty

A couple of things come up right away when talking about dishonest jobs. There is always the idea that if enough people are doing it, as a group, they can convince themselves that it isn’t actually that bad or that they aren’t at fault because they are just doing their job. So there is always, ALWAYS a justification for being dishonest. If people couldn’t justify living a lie then it wouldn’t be so easy to do at first. Dishonest jobs might also come with perks that make the lie seem like less of an issue at first. Maybe a dishonest job pays better or has better hours – it has outcomes that are desirable and that make your life easier. But at what cost?


Whatever treatment center for women you go to, one of the first things you learn and hear over and over is how crucial honesty is to recovery and how this means honesty in every area of your life. Once again, that doesn’t mean that every lie you’ve been telling and living is suddenly going to come to light – as stated before denial is huge in the life of an addict and alcoholic to the point that sometimes a lie feels like the truth. That is why it is so important in early recovery to find people (like a sponsor and a support network) that can help you discern the real from the false.


Making Choices and Sacrifices

The truth about having a dishonest job in sobriety and being aware of that dishonesty is that eventually it will catch up to you. This might come in some spiritual crisis, like a return to self-loathing or it might be an eventual loss of the things that having a dishonest job got you in the first place. Or it can lead to relapse. Dishonesty and losing the willingness to confront challenges that come up in sobriety is usually one of the stepping stones to deciding that getting high or drunk is preferable to fighting the good fight anymore. No one is perfect – no one is asking that we be perfect. The idea is to get enough willingness and awareness to be able to look at something like a job opportunity and reasonably decide whether it is moral, honest, and worthwhile. It’s better to make 8 bucks an hour as a grocery check out person than to have a baller job with lots of cash at the price of sacrificing your integrity because there absolutely are things that money cannot buy.


Privacy vs. Secrecy: Is There Even a Difference?

Written By: Katie Schipper

Privacy vs. Secrecy – How it relates to Honesty

The Importance of Honesty

Honesty, Open Mindedness and Willingness: if you’re in any sort of 12-step recovery, you will hear about those three virtues over and over. All three are vital, but with honesty in particular in the addict/alcoholic there are a lot of road bumps. The most obvious and undeniable is the fact that in order to maintain the lifestyle of a junkie or a boozehound one must be in a perpetual state of denial, the ultimate act of lying to oneself. So off the bat, honesty is a virtue that throws some curve balls. Because the reality with honesty is that if a woman in early recovery or just entering a women’s treatment center is at least willing to be honest it doesn’t so much matter whether she is actual honest in practice so long as her intention is to be honest. To say that another way, when she’s first getting sober, a woman in early recovery will still be in enough denial to not even recognize that she is still lying to herself and to others – but if her aim is to practice honesty then in time and with help the practice of honesty will grow and progress.  In order to become willing she must first distinguish the difference in privacy vs. secrecy.

privacy vs. secrecy


Read about the importance of accountability

Privacy vs. Secrecy, Which One Keeps Us Sick?

With that being said on honesty, there is another big concept in recovery: the idea that secrets keep us sick. This concept coupled with the necessity of honesty on the spiritual path brings up a whole debate on secrecy vs privacy. For a group of people that is notoriously secretive, always to their own detriment and demise, what does privacy even mean? In a program that demands “rigorous honesty,” are we expected to share all the details of what a so-called normal person might consider private life? How far are we to take the spiritual inventory that we do during our fourth and fifth step?

Read more about Step 4

Being Open to Truth and Honesty

The difference between privacy and secrecy can be an often subtle and sometimes blurred line. The problem in distinguishing the two is that as mentioned before intention plays as much of a role as the actual practice of being open (while maintaining privacy) rather than being secretive. To give an example, imagine a woman in early recovery (or, for that matter, at any point in her recovery) who goes to the store and decides to steal a lipstick. She may have done this for a variety of reasons but ultimately she knows and understands that stealing is wrong, so on and so on. At this point she can go two ways – she can keep this secret out of shame. She will hold on to it, believing that in keeping the secret she is minimizing the act of stealing and therefore doing herself a favor. Or she might, having an understanding of the idea that “stealing is wrong” and knowing from past experiences that keeping things like that hidden has led to still worse shame and secrecy, share what she did with someone – maybe she’ll tell multiple people. Maybe she will bring the lipstick back. The key lies not in who or how she tells but rather in the fact that she is willing to achieve truth and honesty over secrecy. Privacy comes in to play in that even if she doesn’t tell everyone, she recognizes that what she did is not shameful unless it is left to fester in some corner of her own mind where all those things she believes she ‘shouldn’t’ have done or ‘should’ have done go to rot – secrecy is the belief that we can do things that are so shameful that we must at all costs keep them to ourselves. When looking at privacy vs secrecy we see that privacy is the recognition that we have a right to a personal life but that there is no shame in our actions – that we are willing to fully accept who we are in all areas without feeling compelled to hide some part of ourself away. We might not talk about our battles with depression and anxiety to everyone we meet and we very likely aren’t going to broadcast our sex life or relationships everywhere (unless you are a special breed of Facebook over-sharer), but knowing that none of that carries any shame allows us to live a private life without the mask of secrecy.

Same Sh*t Different Meeting

Written By: Anjelica G
Articles are the sole work of the individual author and do not express the opinion of Sobriety for Women.

You Want Me to What?!

We come to a halt at Step 3. “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of god as we understood Him,” Sounds like a bunch of bull-sh*t to me. Now, I’m not saying for those who have a god of their understanding is bullshit, so just hear me out. Some of us grow up with our familie’s conception of god, some of us find our own, and some of us just simply do not have one. Can we not get sober without finding god? Why do we get so hung up on such a small part of the program?Same shit different meeting

Many questions may arise at this point for all different types of people. The traumatized adolescents, “If god was real he would have never let those horrible things happen to me.” The smarty pants scientists, “I prefer the theories of evolution.” The catholic school survivors, “The priests at my school that devote their lives to god touched my little brother!” The metal heads, “If my favorite band, “Slayer” is anti- god then so am I!” The logical thinkers, “Seeing is believing.” In their lies the scapegoat, us addicts have been searching for. Once we see the word “god” in step three, we run and we just assume the program isn’t going to work. We finally have an excuse to run away. Well, you don’t have to run anymore because sobriety is possible for all.


Atheists and Agnostics Can Do It Too.

The program can work for anyone who actually has a little self will to simply get sober. This sh*t is not rocket science. If you don’t want to stop, you’re not going to stop. Plain and simple. Nothing is going to just miraculously push you into recovery if you honestly do not believe you have a problem with drugs and alcohol. Believing you have a problem with drugs or alcohol is more important to getting sober then believing in a god. If you do want to stop but don’t belive in god, then it will be tough but extremely possible. The AA Big Book actually has a chapter dedicated to people who do not believe in a god. You can’t pray away an illness but having the faith that everything will be ok certainly does ease the mind for some people. You are not doomed an alcoholic death just because you do not devote your life to a religion. And for all you bible-thumping, god-nazis who think they have some sort or minor in grammar, you’re probably critiquing my usage of a lower case “g” in the word god. Just a quick clarification to avoid dumb comments about it that I probably won’t read anyway, I am using a lower case “g” because it is not a proper noun. Unless “God” is the actual name of your god, it’s lower case. It’s funny because I bet you googled it rather then having “faith” in my facts, yet most of you have faith that there’s a man who lives in the sky that built the world in 7 days and took your addiction away, makes a lot of sense, moving on…


I Have A Problem.

A few things bother me a little bit about the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings I have attended. Anniversary night, the celebration of yearly milestones of ones sobriety, one things gets said repeatedly that I can’t f*ck!ng stand. People get up to make their academy award speech and always say “This wouldn’t have been possible without god.” That immediately makes me think, so if you didn’t have a god then you would have never gotten sober? What kind of message is that sending to our newcomers? Why are there  even 12 steps if that statement is true and not just a church people go to get cured? I feel like people don’t even know what they are saying anymore and they have just heard the same regurgitated shit over and over again. They think it is what we want to hear so they say it but I see right through all that nonsense. I know for damn sure god didn’t get me sober, I actually believe I did a lot more work then god did when it comes to me and my sobriety and I am a very spiritual person. It took me a while to find my own conception of a higher power but the work I put into my recovery is what ultimately saved my life. I have also heard someone say, “ I had nothing to do with this, it was all god.” Really? You had NOTHING to do with it? Are you that f*ck!ng ignorant to truly credit all your hard work to a god? I think back to my personal sobriety and god played a very small role in my life and we have these narrow minded people telling all our newcomers that god did all the hard work and then b!tch at our sponsees for not getting involved or for not doing step work. In their minds god’s going to take care of it all and cure them because that’s what they heard some moron say in a meeting, that is if they stick around long after they hear the word god. Yes, I understand faith without works is dead but let me tell you, you can work without faith my friend because at the end of the day that task gets done. Another thing I despise in the rooms is the Lord’s prayer at the end of the meeting. We preach day in and day out about how this is a spiritual not religious program yet were reciting a catholic prayer at the end? I refused to say it the first 9 months of my sobriety because I was tortured in catholic school my whole life and there was no way in hell I was going to utter blasphemous words against my will ever again. I do not support organized religion and I should not be made to say it at a meeting that has nothing to do with religion.


Credit Where Credit’s Due.

I do believe that god has done a lot of good for people and has inspired many. god has done a lot for me. I pray often and give thanks to my higher power but should we really be giving god ALL the credit. Addicts are already struggling with self confidence and then when they accomplish something as big as staying sober for a year they have to hand over all that to an invisible being? Have a little faith in yourself people, you did most of the work. Maybe this isn’t the case for some people but I feel like if I took the god steps out of my sobriety I still would have been able to get sober. It’s not right that we tell people you can’t move on to step 4 (the important work) without finding god in step 3 or handing you will over to something else out there. If they get discouraged from not having a god or god resentments and turn back to a drink/drug, we are robbing people from living a beautiful life. Own your sobriety, you did it, you came this far, you worked hard for it, you made changes, you mended relationships, you’re self aware, and you are f*cking awesome for that! Take credit for that! Don’t downplay all your hard work because you heard someone say some corny line like “If you didn’t drink today thank your higher power because you had nothing to do with it.”  because you had a lot to do with it.