Avoid These Foods in Early-Recovery!

Why What You Eat in Early-Sobriety Matters

If we go by the saying “you are what you eat,” then, in active addiction, most of us weren’t anything too hot. Hey, that analogy works on a metaphorical and a literal level!

nutrition and sobriety

All jokes aside, I ate very badly when I was drinking and drugging. A healthy diet was pretty low on my list of essential things. It took a backseat to getting money, getting drugs, getting booze, getting high, getting more money, getting more drugs…I think you get the idea.

So, when I was in rehab and the nutritionist started talking about eating healthy, I zoned out. Eating right wasn’t important to me. Guess what? I paid the price!

I ate bad and I felt bad. I ate high fat foods and gained weight. This last point, gaining weight, is especially important when we consider recovery from eating disorders and other harmful behaviors.

To help women avoid my mistakes, I’ve put together a list of some foods to eat in early-sobriety. I also jotted down some foods to avoid. Bon appetit!

Learn the benefits of practicing yoga in recovery!

Do Eat Veggies

There’s no downside to eating your vegetables! They’re packed full of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. They’re pretty yummy (except for Brussels sprouts, I never could get into those!). They give us sustained and healthy energy.

Years of destroying ourselves with drugs and booze takes a toll. Eating veggies is a good way to begin to heal our bodies. Besides, if we eat good, we feel good. It’s that simple.

Don’t Eat Fast Food

fast food and sobriety

I’m as guilt as anyone of living on the Taco Bell and Wendy’s diet. There were years, literally years, where I ate nothing but fast food. Guess what? Those years stank!

Fast food is processed food packed with salt, sugar, fat, preservatives, and chemicals. While none of those, with the exception of chemicals, are harmful in moderation, they’re toxic in large doses.

Consider that a Big Mac has ten grams of saturated fat, 960 milligrams of sodium, and nine grams of sugar. That’s not too healthy!

Do Eat High Protein Foods

The only upside of fast food is how much protein it contains. A Big Mac has twenty-four grams of protein. The crappy stuff in it far outweighs the good, but that’s a decent amount of protein.

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are essential for our bodies’ health and regeneration. Want to know the fastest way to start feeling better after a binge? Eat a grilled chicken breast.

Don’t believe me? Try it out. After all, there’s a reason body builders go crazy for protein.

How do we move from early-sobriety to long-term recovery?

Don’t Eat High Fat Foods

This one is linked with avoiding fast food. Stay away from foods that are loaded with fat! They taste delicious, I know, but they do nothing good for our bodies or mood.

Fat is a tricky food group. Monounsaturated fat and fatty acids are actually very healthy. Saturated and trans fats, on the other hand, are dangerous for a few different reasons.

First, they clog the arteries and lead to heart disease. Second, they lead to obesity, which brings with it a host of health concerns. Finally, eating saturated fats contributes to the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Do Eat Fiber Rich Foods

Fiber is great. It fills us up and keeps us regular. It promotes stomach, colon, and bowel health. There’s not really a downside to eating fiber. So go get some!

Do Drink Water

Last, but certainly not least, we need to drink lots of water in early-sobriety. Water keeps us hydrated and is essential for all of our body’s functions. After all, we’re made up of around 55% water. Seems kind of important to keep drinking it!

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The Truth About Eating Disorders: Is Skinny Really Hot?

Is Being Skinny Everything?

You can’t turn on your TV, check your email, or go on Facebook and Instagram without being bombarded by the message that skinny is everything. In today’s world, we’re constantly, and I mean constantly, told that less pounds = more attention, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

Are these messages true, though? Does a smaller waistline really solve all our problems? It should come as no surprise that I think this is a bunch of baloney. Not only do I think it’s BS, but I think a lot of people agree with me

the truth about eating disorders

Is this hot?

To prove my point, and to set the record straight on what men and women really like, I interviewed my friends. I talked to guys and girls about what they find attractive. I even asked a couple of strangers their thoughts on skinny.

What they have to say may just surprise you!

What is mindful eating?

What Men Find Attractive

I asked three guys I know, and one random stranger, what they find attractive. I also asked them why they think being skinny is perceived as so important.

J: I like women with self-confidence. Yeah looks are important obviously, but the way they carry themselves is more important. Like if I meet a girl and it’s obvious she’s insecure about herself, I’m less attracted to her. Or if she’s always asking if she looks hot, or if I’m attracted to her, I’m going to like her less. Is that messed up?

I think women put so much importance on being skinny because…it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. They’re told that there’s nothing more important than being skinny so much they believe it. Then being skinny is all they care about and they start spreading the “message” of skinny to other women. It’s a circle.

A: I think girls who look healthy are hot. It’s weird too, ‘cause girls can be skinny and healthy and large and healthy. For me it’s all about health. Maybe ‘cause I’m in the gym so much. I don’t know. If a girl’s ribs are poking out and it’s obvious she hasn’t eaten in like a week, I just don’t find that attractive.

Being skinny is important to women because it’s all they hear. Have you ever looked at the magazines next to the register at Publix? It’s “how to lose ten pounds,” or “do this to look good in a bikini.” Of course girls are going to want to be skinny ‘cause it’s all they know.

B: It’s kind of hard to say. I mean I definitely like skinny girls, but I like girls with a little meat on their bones too. Should I not say that? I like all kinds of girls is what I mean. Definitely though there are girls who are too skinny or weigh too much. I guess I like normal girls. Skinny, fat, whatever.

It’s definitely society’s fault girls think being skinny is so important. There are entire channels, sites, Facebook groups, whatever, just dedicated to how to lose weight. That seems kind of messed up.

Stranger: I like women who are a bit bigger. You know how supermodels look like toothpicks? I’m just not into that. It’s fine if women want to try and be that, but it’s just not my thing.

I think women make being skinny the most important thing because of society and culture. That skinny supermodel look is all you see everywhere. That’s what girls see when they’re young and that’s what they grow up believing. It’s pretty sick actually. It’s like that for guys too. Not in the same extreme way, but it exists.

Why is good nutrition so important for early-recovery?

What Women Find Attractive

I asked two women, and another stranger(!), the same questions.

what men and women find attractive

H:Being skinny is attractive for sure, but so is being large or bigger or whatever you want to call it. Being healthy is attractive and you can be healthy when you’re skinny or when you’re big. Most men and women think skinny is hotter than being normal sized or bigger and I guess that’s true a lot of the time, but not always.

It’s definitely about how the media portrays women. It pisses me off whenever I think about it and I think about it a lot. Seriously go on any site and the models never look like me. Not that I think I’m fat but I’m not model skinny. Go to Forever 21 right now on your phone. What do you see?

C: Skinny is definitely attractive. It just looks good. I feel better when I’m skinnier. I have that confidence, guys look at me more, and like I know it’s messed up, but that’s just how it is. You don’t have to be skinny to be hot but it definitely helps.

I don’t know really why being skinny is so important. Probably it has to do with how I was raised. It’s probably like that for a lot of girls. My mom would tell to watch my weight or boys wouldn’t like me. And look at TV. Aside from Kim [Kardashian] there’s like no big women. Jennifer Lawrence always says how fat she is, but that’s not true. She’s pretty normal.

Stranger: I feel more attractive when I’m skinny, but I don’t know how much guys like that. I dated a guy who always told me to gain weight [laughs]. That was a weird relationship. But yeah, being skinny is important to me. It’s important to every woman. Think about it, no one tells you to be fat but they always tell you to be skinny.

It’s our culture that makes being skinny so important. Like what I said a minute ago, people are always telling you to lose weight. It doesn’t matter how little you weigh, you’re always persuaded to weigh less. It’s on TV, movies, the internet, social media…everywhere. If we can change that then being skinny probably wouldn’t be important to so many women.

Speaking of social media, who are the “junkies of Instagram?”

Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Fifteen

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.

AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be finishing the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

Picking up from last week, Working With Others goes on to offer advice on how we can act when we’re someplace where people are drinking. It says, “Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it” (p. 102).

The idea of contributing to an occasion, rather than simply trying to have a good time, touches upon a central theme of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was a taker my entire life. I was selfish to the extreme. After getting sober, it was time for me to start giving!

Say I’m at a friend’s birthday party. People are drinking and having a good time. I can have a good time and try my best to make the birthday gal have an even better time!

In fact, Working With Others says as much. The chapter reads, “If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically” (p. 102).

Sounds simple. Of course, like most of AA’s principles, it’s much easier said than done! After all, it takes time to break habits we’ve had for years or decades.

The chapter then goes on to talk about how we interact with “normies.” It advises us not to infringe upon our nonalcoholic friends’ right to drink. It says, “Let your friends know they are not to change their habits on your account” (p. 102).

It would be pretty selfish of us to impose on someone who wants to drink (who doesn’t have a problem with booze). Remember, we’re trying to get rid of this selfishness! We’re growing as women from selfish to selfless.

What about keeping booze in our house, though? Maybe we have a boyfriend or husband who likes a beer with dinner. Maybe we live with our parents and they like a cocktail before bed. What do we do?

Once again, the Big Book has us covered! Working With Others says,

“Many of us keep liquor in our homes…some of us still serve it to our friends provided they are not alcoholic…we feel that each family, in the light of their own circumstances, ought to decide for themselves” (pp. 102-103).

Thanks AA! You have an answer to every question that crosses my mind! This chapter ends with two key ideas. First it advises us recovering alcoholics to avoid prejudice. It says, “We are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution” (p. 103).

Sounds good to me. There’s no reason for me, as a sober woman of grace and dignity, to hate on people who drink. Of course, if someone is struggling with alcoholism or addiction, I’ll be quick to share my story with them.

Working With Others ends with a quote I hear repeated often in the rooms of recovery. It goes a little something like,

After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!” (p. 103).

Sounds about right to me!

Don’t Embarrass Yourself at a Meeting by Doing This

Do I Say Addict or Alcoholic?

It’s the oldest question around! Do I identify myself as an addict or an alcoholic?

do i say addict or alcoholic

I’ve been asking myself this since I was first introduced to the rooms of twelve-step recovery. That was back in the dark ages of the mid 2000’s. My family thought I needed help and sent me to an IOP program. The IOP, in turn, sent me to rooms of Narcotics Anonymous.

So, I went to a few NA meetings. I was thoroughly confused by what I heard there. I did learn a few important things, though. I learned I probably do have a problem with drugs and alcohol. I learned I used drugs to fill a void.

I also learned to call myself an addict. The one thing I didn’t learn was how to stop drugging and drinking. Spoiler alert, I didn’t learn how to stop because I didn’t want to.

Fast forward a few years and I was introduced to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was in a residential treatment center and they took us to AA meetings every night. When I raised my hand to share and said “My name’s Fiona and I’m an addict,” well, let’s just say I caught an earful.

I was told I was disrupting the meeting. I was told to call myself an alcoholic. I was told to respect the house I was in.

Respect the House You’re In

Since that fateful meeting, I’ve heard this slogan repeated a lot. Respect the house you’re in. What exactly does it mean though?

Well, it means exactly what it sounds like! I should identify myself according to the fellowship I’m attending. If I’m in NA, I call myself an addict. If I’m in AA, I call myself an alcoholic. If I’m in CA, I call myself a cocaine addict. If I’m in EDA I say I’m recovering from an eating disorder.

It’s pretty simple actually! See, I suffer from a disease of complication. I can take the simplest concept and twist it up in my head to be something completely different. Part of sobriety, for me, is to keep thing simple. In fact, one of my favorite recovery sayings is Keep it Simple!

But I Never Had a Problem with Alcohol!

do i say addict or alcoholic

I hear this all the time in meetings. I hear women refuse to identify themselves as alcoholics because they never drank. I hear women refuse to identify themselves as addicts because they never did drugs.

While that makes sense in theory, in practice it’s quite different. Being an addict or alcohol has nothing to do with what substance we did or didn’t use. It has to do with our thinking.

In both AA and NA literature, the disease is called “a disease of thinking and relationships.” See, I’m an addict and alcoholic because I have a mental obsession with drugging and drinking. I’m an addict and alcoholic because I’m unable to form true partnerships with other people.

Until I have a spiritual awakening. Once that happens, my thinking returns to (mostly) normal. I’m able to be selfless instead of selfish. Thank God for that!

What If Say Alcoholic/Addict?

I’ve heard this one a lot, too. I’ll be sitting in a meeting and someone says, “My name’s So and So and I’m an addict and alcoholic.”

There’s nothing really wrong with this. I still feel like we, as women in recovery, should respect the house we’re in, though. It seems disrespectful, in my opinion, to add an unnecessary qualifier.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Fourteen

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.

AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

These final few pages of Working With Others start off with a bang! Have you ever been told to avoid drugs and booze at all costs? Well, A.A. doesn’t think you have to do this! They say,

“Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn’t think or be reminded about alcohol at all” (pp. 100-101).

Okay, sounds pretty standard, right? Wrong. The next sentence goes a little something like this – “Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so…we meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind…” (p 101).

We recover from alcoholism. Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re always going to be an alcoholics. We can never safely drink. Them’s the facts, honey. We do recover from the spiritual malady and the mental obsession, though. Our minds and souls heal!

Working With Others echoes this very idea. It reads,

“In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcohol tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but he usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever…These attempts to do the impossible have always failed” (p. 101).

We work the steps and have a spiritual experience. We recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. And then, we can go anywhere in the world. We can eat at bars. We can see concerts in clubs. We can do anything!

Now, it’s important to note that just because we can go to bars, doesn’t mean we always should. The Big Book says, “So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there” (p. 101).

Of course, the problem with that is constitutes a legitimate reason? Fear not, ladies! Once again, the Big Book has us covered. It goes on to read,

“Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, ‘Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places’” (pp. 101-102).

If you can answer yes to that question, then by all means go to a bar or club. If you’re only looking to get a thrill from being around booze, though, stay away. Remember, hanging out with a cute guy isn’t always a good reason!

Tune in next week for the conclusion of Working With Others!

This entry was posted on December 5, 2014, in Faith Facts.

Old-Time AA: God Centered Sponsorship & Co-Sponsoring

Alcoholics Anonymous: The Early Days

Alcoholics Anonymous began on the first day of Dr. Bob’s sobriety – June 10th, 1935.

Several years later, 1939 to be exact, the book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism was published. This volume has come to be affectionately called the Big Book.

In the almost eighty years since A.A.’s founding, it’s helped millions of people recover and spawned countless other fellowships. Today, a woman trying to get sober has her pick of fellowships, meetings, and sponsors. It wasn’t always like that.

I’m not so sure the explosive growth of twelve-step based recovery is such a good thing. Let me be clear, I’m beyond grateful for this program. When I think of all the lives A.A., and other twelve-step fellowships, have touched, my mind boggles.

Still, a lot has changed since Bill and Dr. Bob set out to help other alcoholics. Sponsorship, and in a larger sense recovery, isn’t treated the same.

god centered sponsorship and co sponsorship

Success Rates from the Early Days

The second edition of the Big Book contains a forward. Published in 1955, it reads “Of alcoholics who came to AA and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those who stayed on with AA showed improvement” (The Big Book, page XX).

50%, or 75% depending on how you look at it, isn’t too shabby! Imagine if half to three quarters of those walking through the doors of AA today got sober!

So, why’d rates of recovery drop from those lofty numbers to today’s approximate 1%? More importantly, how do we get back to these astounding numbers of recovery?

Well, it could have something to do with sponsorship.

Sponsorship from the Early Days

“Though three hundred thousand have recovered in the last twenty-five years, maybe half a million more have walked into our midst, and then out again. We can’t well content ourselves with the view that all these recovery failures were entirely the fault of the newcomers themselves. Perhaps a great many didn’t receive the kind and amount of sponsorship they so sorely needed. We didn’t communicate when we might have done so. So we AA’s failed them.”

–Bill W., excerpted from a 1961 volume of the Grapevine

During the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, a different type of sponsorship was practiced. First, there was co-sponsorship. Before we get into that, though, let’s discuss God centered sponsorship.

God Centered Sponsorship

This is the idea that rather than running to your sponsor with any and all problems, you take them to God.

Remember, nowhere in the Big Book does it say we should rely too much on our sponsor. In fact, nowhere in the Big Book does it mention a sponsor at all. This idea will be explored in detail later.

Anyway, God centered sponsorship is simple. We pick a sponsor, a woman who’s been through all twelve of the steps. We work through them with her. Then, instead of besieging her every time something bad happens, we pray and meditate over it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s vitally important to communicate with your sponsor. Hell, I call mine four or five times a week. Still, I don’t bring my problems to her (unless, of course, it’s a problem she’s had personal experience with).

I bring my problems to God. I pray to God, letting her (yep, my God is a woman!) know what’s going on. Then I meditate, listening for an answer. Often, God speaks to me through other women. For example, if I have a problem with money, I’m going to call my friends who’re good with money. That’s God speaking to me.

Want to know something funny? Often, after meditating on a problem or issue, I’ll call my sponsor about it. That’s another perfect example of God speaking to me through other women.

I think it’s important here to point out the difference between practicing God centered sponsorship and simply being lazy. Being lazy is not working steps, not communicating with your sponsor, and not living life on spiritual principals. God centered sponsorship is working steps and then communicating with your sponsor as needed rather than 1,000 times each day.

Co-Sponsorship

If God centered sponsorship sounds radical (and I hope it doesn’t!) then co-sponsorship is going to sound crazy! This is the idea that the sponsor should take her current sponsee with her to meet other newcomers.

Okay, that sounds kind of confusing, right? I had to read it twice and I’m still not sure what I wrote. Thankfully, Clarence S., an old-timer, had a much simpler explanation. He wrote,
“Additional information for sponsoring a new [wo]man can be obtained from the experience of older [wo]men in the work. A co-sponsor, with an experienced and newer member working on a prospect, has proven very satisfactory. Before undertaking the responsibility of sponsoring, a member should make certain that [s]he is able and prepared to give the time, effort, and thought such an obligation entails. It might be that [s]he will want to select a co-sponsor to share the responsibility, or [s]he might feel it necessary to ask another to assume the responsibility for the [wo]man he has located.”

–Clarence S., excerpted from a 1944 pamphlet on sponsorship

Leaving out the use of male pronouns (seriously, were no women getting sober back then?!), that makes a lot of sense. I cringe when I think of how I sponsored my first newcomer. I didn’t send her to God at all!

If my sponsor had been there, guiding us both, maybe things would have turned out differently. Or maybe not, who knows? God works in mysterious ways, my friends!

Could These Techniques Lead to More Women Recovering?

Ultimately, I don’t know! I think there are a lot of benefits to things like God centered sponsorship and co-sponsorship.

I think there are also other beneficial tactics women with time can take to help newcomers. For example, why make a sponsee call us? Shouldn’t we be calling them? Isn’t that how Bill found Dr. Bob in the first place?

So, will this sort of proactive, in-depth sponsorship help newcomers? There’s only one way to find out! I’ll see you out there in the trenches, ladies!

Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Thirteen

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.

AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

Part of getting sober is learning how to deal with our families. By deal, I don’t mean begrudgingly exist with them! No, I’m talking about being helpful, kind, patient, and loving.

That’s new for most of us! It was for me anyway. Prior to sobering up, I was nothing but a drain on my family and loved ones. It was hard to start giving instead of taking. It was hard to start comforting instead of being comforted.

My new relationship with my family began after I’d made amends and shown them that I meant business. Working With Others echoes this idea. It reads,

“When your prospect has made such reparation as [s]he can to his [or her!] family, and has thoroughly explained to them the new principals by which [s]he is living, [s]he should proceed to put those principals into action at home” (p 98).

Before I cleared away the wreckage of my past, I wasn’t able to live on spiritual principals. Once I’d made amends and, more importantly, incorporated the ideas behind my amends into my life, well, that’s when things began to change. That’s when I stopped blaming my dad for all my mistakes. That’s when I stopped arguing with my mom about every little thing.

Again, Working With Others emphasis this. It says, “[S]he should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague” (p 98).

That’s much easier said than done! For me, learning how to live in harmony, peace, and usefulness with my family was a trial and error process. After enough errors, I started to get it right!

Then there’s the idea of continued sobriety and spiritual growth. Simply telling my parents and brother I was sorry, then continuing to act on old behavior, wasn’t going to cut it. Nope. I had to live a completely new way of life. A.A. puts it like this,

“…the alcoholic continues to demonstrate that [s]he can be sober, considerate, and helpful, regardless of what anyone says or does. Of course, we all fall much below this standard many times. But we must try to repair the damage immediately…” (p 99).

What happens if we don’t get our family back, though? What happens if our drinking and drugging was so bad, took us to such a dark place, that our family wants nothing to do with us? Well, we can still get better!

Getting sober with the support and love of family is the easier path. Just because they may not want a relationship, though, doesn’t mean we can’t still heal. The only person we need a relationship with is God. Working With Others reads,

“Let no alcohol say [s]he cannot recover unless [s]he has his [or her!] family back. This just isn’t so…Remind the prospect that his [or her] recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his [or her] relationship with God” (pp 99-100).

That’s the truth. I was lucky because, despite hurting them time and time again, my family gave me another chance. That’s not always the case. If they hadn’t wanted me in their life, I’d still have been okay as long as I had God in my life.

It’s that simple. God is or God isn’t. God is everything or God is nothing. You choose.

So, what happens once we have God in our lives? Well, A.A. says, “Both you and the new [wo]man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen” (p 100).

Remarkable things? Sounds good to me. Where do I sign up?

Tune in next week for another installment of Faith Facts Friday with Fiona!

The 10th Step Promises

Written By: Fiona Stockard

What are the 10th Step Promises?

Much like the ninth step promises, the tenth step promises are a section of the Big Book where recovering alcoholics are promised peace and recovery from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.

Sounds too goo to be true, right? Wrong! The tenth step promises are available for everyone who works for them. They’re guaranteed to you, to me, and to the broken woman who just walked through the door.

Of course, there’s a pretty big caveat here. We have to do the work! These promises don’t just magically happen in our lives. We have to sweat. We have to earn it. We have to earn recovery!

Bill Wilson Wrote –

10th step promises

And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone-even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

–(Big Book pp. 84-85)

Again, like the ninth step promises, I didn’t know what those words meant until I experienced them. It’s easy to read, “…the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.” To experience that freedom firsthand, though? I can’t describe it. It’s simply freedom.

My Experience with the 10th Step Promises

I’m a tried and true alcoholic and addict. Before picking up a drink, I would use things like attention, controlling my weight, boys, and good grades to feel different. Then I got high. After that, all bets were off.

See, I have the three-part disease of alcoholism and addiction. My body processes alcohol and drugs differently than “a normie’s” body. Once I start, I can’t stop. Of course, stopping wouldn’t be a problem if I never started in the first place.

I always begin to drink again. I always begin to drink until I reached “a position of neutrality – safe and protected.” See, I had a mental obsession with drinking and drugging. Once I started to think about alcohol, I wouldn’t stop until the thought of drinking pushed out all else. I wouldn’t stop until a drink was in my hand.

That’s the heart of alcoholism – the bizarre mental obsession. Did you notice, though, that I wrote in past tense in the above paragraph? That’s because I’ve recovered. I’ve been granted safety from a God of my own understanding. I’ve been set free.

That’s my experience with the tenth step promises. They set me free. When I was newly sober, they offered me hope. My sponsor showed them to me almost immediately. I thank God she did. They showed me that recovery isn’t only possible, it’s promised if I do the work.

See, I have to complete the steps in order for these promises to manifest in my life. Even then, they don’t always occur during the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth step. It takes some women much longer to have them come true in their lives. For some lucky women, the obsession is lifted before they reach the tenth step. Like most of sobriety, these promises are an entirely subjective experience.

The bottom line, though, is if I do the work, if I search within myself and find God, the obsession to drink and drug will be removed. That’s all I can ask for and all I continue to ask for on a daily basis.

The Link Between Ferguson & Drug Addiction

The War on Drugs = The War on Minorities?

ferguson and addiction

Some might say the question I pose is a stretch, but is it? Ever since the Reagan era and the birth of the War on Drugs, minorities have been prosecuted, sentenced, and imprisoned for the distribution and possession of drugs.

 

Black and Latino men and women are sitting in jail for the sale of small amounts of marijuana, a substance that’s now legal in four states and Washington DC. Now, I’m not arguing that selling drugs is acceptable. It isn’t. Rather, I’d like to shine a light on the unjust practice of law enforcement targeting minorities.

The War on Drugs is a Manhunt

That says it all. The War on Drugs is a manhunt. It’s an all out blitz to find drugs at any and all costs. The most precious things thrown by the wayside are individuals’ rights. As a result of numerous less-than-savory practices, the divide between law enforcement and those living in low-income areas grows.

Protected under the flimsy idea of “cleaning up the streets,” the police have lost all sight of civil rights. So how does a tragedy like Ferguson happen? Why does it seem the police feel justified in there extreme actions. For that matter, why is it that most of us assume what happened is unjust. Because police have been conditioned to distrust the citizens and take extreme action. In turn, citizens are conditioned to mistrust the police and assume they always take extreme actions. Because that’s what our police officers are trained to do.

That sounds like hyperbole, right? Well, take a look at policies like New York City’s Stop and Frisk. The New York Civil Liberties Union had the following to say,

“The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. The Department’s own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity confirm what many people in communities of color across the city have long known: The police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year, and the vast majority are black and Latino. An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.”

Yes, the NYCLU is talking about New York, not Ferguson. Still, the fact that these policies are acceptable and implemented in the first place speaks volumes. Once again, it becomes readily apparent that law enforcement’s approach to fighting the War on Drugs is one that does more harm than good.

Is the War on Drugs Really a War?

Before we go any further, let’s define what war actually is. Wikipedia defines war as “an organized and often prolonged conflict that is carried out by states or non-state actors. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, social disruption and an attempt at economic destruction…”

By this definition (extreme violence, social disruption, attempted economic destruction), the War on Drugs is, without a shadow of a doubt, a war. It’s a war on communities like Ferguson. No wonder the situation there has reached a boiling point. I’m just surprised it hasn’t happened sooner.

The citizens of Ferguson, and many other communities like it, seem to be fighting a war for their basic freedoms. That’s a fight many of us have never had to face. Riots are certainly no solution to the problem, but it’s an understandable reaction to decades of unfair police practices.

What’s the Solution?

The sale of drugs is rampant across America. The use of drugs is rampant across America. Addiction is rampant across America. So, how do we solve the problem? Well, the first step is starting to deal with addiction properly.

Instead of treating the problem, we throw people, more often that not minorities, in jail. This does nothing but compound the problem. Now, someone struggling with addiction is imprisoned with thousands of others struggling with addiction. It’s no wonder drug abuse is so prevalent in jails and prisons.

Taking a good look at the root of the problem, it’s glaringly obvious that there’s a lack of proper treatment for addiction. Okay, fair enough. Everyone knows that, though. It’s no surprise that there aren’t enough substance abuse treatment options available in the U.S.

I think this lack of treatment options ties directly in with the abuse authority figures bestow upon citizens. It’s no wonder people go to jail and come out with a chip on their shoulder. They’ve been abused by police every step of the way.

Imagine if police in our neighborhoods behaved in the same fashion they do in low-income areas. That would never stand. That would never be acceptable.

So, what’s the solution? Simple. We end the War on Drugs and start the peace treaty on drugs. We treat the problem instead of fighting it. Our current approach is brutal, barbaric, and inhumane. This is a direct result of a lack of education, understanding, and compassion. Police are trigger-happy and have grown accustomed to doing whatever it takes to “find the dope.”

If our attitudes, and those of people in positions of power, don’t seriously change, there are going to be more Ferguson, Missouri’s.

Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Twelve

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.

AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

This chapter makes clear that the desire to get sober must come from within. We can’t make a family member, friend, or sponsee want to quit drinking. If they don’t want to, we simply have to move on.

Working With Others reads, “To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy” (p 96).

That’s much easier said than done! Fortunately, we have prayer and meditation on our side. We have spiritual tools that allow us to deal with any situation.

When working with a new sponsee, it’s important to remember that we’re offering spiritual guidance only. To that end, this chapter says, “…that he is not trying to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter. Permit that and you only harm him” (p 96).

I’m not a bank and I’m not a homeless shelter (although being both those things would be pretty rad!). I’m an alcoholic who has found a spiritual solution to the disease of alcoholism. That’s all I can offer a woman seeking help.

Working With Others goes on to list some of the ways that helping others can be inconvenient. Remember, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows! The chapter talks about how working with a sponsee may mean losing sleep, interrupting personal activities and work, having to go to hospitals and jails, and my phone ringing at all hours.

That seems like a lot of negative consequences all from helping someone out! Guess what? They’re all worth it. Anyone who has seen light and life return to a sponsee’s eyes will tell you the same.

Is sponsorship sometimes a hassle? Absolutely. Do I really want to pick up the phone during the last five minutes of Scandal? Not even a little bit. But I do it anyway. I sponsor women because it’s the best feeling in the world to help someone else and expect nothing in return. It’s the closest I get to meeting God.

Working With Others then returns to the idea there are certain things we shouldn’t help newcomers with. It says,

“He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. Nonsense…we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God” (p 98).

Ain’t that the truth! I thought I needed to have a good job to get sober. I got that job and continued to drink. I thought I needed a cute guy to get sober. I got a cute guy and would drink in the bathroom after he fell asleep.

I needed God to get sober. That was it. End of story. Working With Others points this out, too. The chapter reads, “For the type of alcoholic who is able and willing to get well, little charity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is needed or wanted” (p 98).

That’s been my experience. When I was finally ready and willing to get sober, there wasn’t much I needed. I had a roof over my head and food in my stomach. Oh, and I had God in my life. Guess what? I got, and stayed, sober!