What to Look for in an AA Sponsor

What to Look for in an AA Sponsor | Recovery By The Sea

If you are using 12-step Alcohol Anonymous (AA) meetings as one means of maintaining sobriety after rehab, another person has likely suggested that you seek out a sponsor. This may seem like a daunting task, but, with guidance, you should be able to identify someone who can serve as a voice of reason and say and do what is necessary to help you remain accountable throughout recovery.

What Is an AA Sponsor?

Alcoholics Anonymous defines a sponsor as “an alcoholic who has made some progress in the recovery program shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through AA.”

Simply put, a sponsor is a person who has been in the program and has been sober for an extended period and can help someone who is newly sober stay that way. They act as a mentor or guide of sorts, someone to whom individuals new to AA can ask for advice and lead newly sober meeting attendees through the twelve steps.

Considerations in Choosing an AA Sponsor

There are several factors you should take into account when deciding upon a person who will serve as your AA sponsor.

Consider the amount of time a potential sponsor has been sober. The general rule is that a person who volunteers to be an AA sponsor should have no less than one year of sobriety under their belt. This proves that a potential sponsor has been working the program, and it has helped him or her maintain sobriety. In turn, he or she will, therefore, be able to pass on their successful strategies and experiences to a sponsee. Moreover, a person who has been sober for a significant amount of time has gained more insight into what sobriety is really like after the early months of recovery.

Consider the sex/gender of the sponsor. It has been suggested that women should sponsor other women, and men should sponsor other men. For many, it is more comfortable to have discussions with a person of the same sex or gender regarding the sometimes private information that is shared in a sponsor-sponsee relationship. 

Same-sex sponsorship can also sometimes limit the likelihood of romantic feelings from developing, which can be very distracting and sabotage sobriety and recovery, especially in the first year. That said, this tradition does not take into account gender identities or sexual orientation. Moreover, the core of this idea is that you should pick a person who you believe you will be comfortable with and not be tempted to pursue romantically.

Research a potential sponsor’s commitment to sobriety. Ask the following: do they have their own sponsor? How diligently do they work the twelve steps? Do they appear to be happy and satisfied with sobriety and their life? A “no” answer to any of these questions may indicate that the potential sponsor may not be the right person for the role because a qualified sponsor should practice what he or she preaches.

What to Look for in an AA Sponsor | Recovery By The Sea

Consider how many other sponsees he or she currently has. Although it’s a good sign when a potential sponsor has other sponsees, if they have more than two or three, it might be wise to find another sponsor who has fewer sponsees and has the time to devote more individualized support.

Make sure the potential sponsor wants to be a sponsor. Just because someone has worked the program for some time does not necessarily mean they are comfortable enough to be willing to sponsor you. Typically, at AA meetings, however, there will be a point in which potential sponsors will raise their hands. Take note of this to avoid approaching a person who is not actively willing to be a sponsor.

Consider the personality of a potential sponsor. Sometimes having a common denominator such as being in recovery is not enough to forge a connection. While many people may appreciate the brutal honesty of some sponsors when it comes to accountability, others may not take so well to this approach. It’s important to find someone who is a good match for your personality and needs, and if you find one who is not, do not hesitate to let them know and seek out a new sponsor who is a better fit.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Attending AA meetings and getting a sponsor has helped millions of people get sober and maintain long-lasting abstinence. However, AA does not always serve well as an alternative for professional treatment. Instead, it should be just one vital tool used as part of a more intensive, comprehensive approach.

Recovery by the Sea offers evidence-based, individualized treatment programs designed to treat addiction as well as all aspects of a person’s health and well-being. Essential services include behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and much, much more.

If you are struggling to escape the clutches of drug or alcohol addiction, we urge you to contact us today and discover how we can help you free yourself once and for all and begin to enjoy the happy and healthy life you deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

Step 1 of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous states as follows:

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

Starting the Journey to Recovery

The first step of any endeavor is a beginning, and this one is the beginning of the process of recovery. Moreover, this is the first step to a healthier, more fulfilling life, and when healing finally begins.

Engaging in the 12 steps is also referred to as “working” them because it requires motivating, effort, and direct action. The 12 steps of AA has been compared to markers or milestones put out thoughtfully on a path by people who have come before us to guide us on our mission. The journey is often scary from the viewpoint of an individual at the beginning, but, luckily, we are only asked to do this one step one day at a time.

If we are fortunate, our journey now has us arriving at the point of surrender. For some, the road a person has walked that led to the first step has been enough to establish that complete surrender is the only valid option for recovery.

For many in recovery, walking into an addiction treatment center or AA meeting for the first time is a significant part of “working” the first step. This simple act of requesting help is, essentially, an admission of powerlessness and the inability to have control over alcohol.

Most alcoholics and drug addicts have intense feelings of guilt, shame, regret, and self-hatred when they walk into an AA fellowship meeting. They’ve also become accustomed to concealing the extent of their problem from almost everyone. Thus, opening up about the nature and intensity of one’s alcoholic behavior is unfamiliar territory. It may even feel quite unnatural, and people often don’t want to do it.

Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

By sharing one’s experiences and loss of control, one can remove the burden of dealing with them secretly and alone. Revealing secrets can liberate a person and help them move forward into a better life. For many, the simple act of sharing in an AA meeting is the true beginning of the recovery process.

Critically, achieving abstinence from alcohol is also a requirement for starting work on the first step. The first step is about examining the effects of alcoholism in one’s life and what is needed to be sober. A person will have to find a way to stop addictive behaviors with an attitude that isn’t muddied by alcohol use.

If you’ve been sober a while already, then the first step is about admitting powerlessness over the behaviors that have made your life unmanageable. There are many things alcoholics can do to work through the first step thoroughly. Most of the work is intended to discover one’s complete history of abuse.

Responsibility and Acceptance

It is each person in recovery’s responsibility to remain actively involved in sobriety and follow his or her sponsor’s recommendations. It is our responsibility to foster and increase our willingness. It’s vital to understand that you are not entirely “powerless,” however.

We all have the ability to engage in the process of recovery, and we have the power to choose not to use drugs or alcohol. The truth of the matter is that you are powerless over drugs and alcohol if you decide to put them in your body.

Acceptance occurs when a person experiences feelings of hope and peace in acknowledging our addiction and the need for recovery. We no longer dread a future filled with meeting attendance, sponsor communication, and working through the steps. Instead, we begin to realize that recovery is indeed a valuable gift, and not meant to be the bane of our existence.

Engaging in the steps can foster serenity and help a person to embrace the fact that AA is not just a program where suffering people get well. It is a means of living that is rewarding and fruitful in and of itself. Having a solid foundation in recovery through working the steps can give an individual a loving, understanding fellowship to accompany them in their journey.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship that has helped countless individuals recover from addiction over the last few decades. However, evidence has shown that recovery outcomes are dramatically improved when group support is used in conjunction with a comprehensive treatment program, such as those offered by Recovery By The Sea.

Our caring staff are trained in all matters of addiction and mental health and are dedicated to providing our clients with the tools and support they need to enjoy a full recovery.

Are you ready to begin your new life? If so, contact us today. We can help you break free from the chains of addiction for the rest of your life!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Step 2 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 2 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 2 AA | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

The second step in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is as follows:

“We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

This step may discourage people who are trying to recover from alcohol or other addictions from joining AA because they don’t fully understand what this step suggests.

First, we must give meaning to what is implied by “sanity.” Most alcoholics don’t feel like they are truly insane, and they may even think it’s crazy to be labeled as such. In this case, however, insanity may be best described by this quote commonly attributed to Albert Einstein:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Most alcoholics can relate to this description. Often, people will try multiple times to regain control of their alcohol consumption, such as limiting drinking to nighttime. However, we still end up in the same place when all is said and done. For a true alcoholic or addict, this never works.

The Second Step of Alcohol Recovery

By admitting to insanity, we are also declaring that, just maybe, our current thinking isn’t the most reasonable or rational. This is the time when those persons who are motivated to stop drinking must identify a “higher power.” It is commonly misunderstood that this means a person must believe in the Christian God, or another religious figure, but this is not the case. The goal of the second step is to come to realize that there is something or someone out there that is greater.

For example, imagine you did not exist. Would the world go on without you? Would the universe still be here? Most people would say “yes” to these questions. Simply by acknowledging that there are forces beyond yourself, you have, in part, achieved step 2. This step is about hope and being open-minded to the possibility that a person can look to a greater power for inspiration as well as mercy.

Tips for Completing Step 2

Keep an open mind to set yourself up for success. Be open to the possibility of looking outside yourself for help and support. This way, you’ll be more able to conceive of the idea of sustainable recovery.

Maintain humility. Accept that you may not be able to overcome your addiction alone.

Understand what it means to be sane. It means to stop engaging in the same destructive behavior over and over again and hoping it will get better.

Step 2 AA | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Why Believe in a Higher Power?

Participating in addiction treatment for a support group will not “fix” a person. While it is vital, it is not a long-term solution to the disease that is addiction. We must find another force to be there for us at all times because our brains will never be quiet and will continue to nag at us from time to time, wanting to use drugs or alcohol. Negative thoughts and feelings can gradually emerge, often when we least expect them.

If you’ve ever participated in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, you may have heard the phrase “your best thinking got you here.” Now is the time to recognize the fact that there is something more significant than ourselves. This step isn’t about believing in a God, per se, but about accepting the help that you need, and surrendering. You must agree that there is hope out there. Cynicism will get you nowhere.

While working through step 2, you don’t yet need to know what your higher power is, precisely. You must firmly believe that your thoughts and feelings aren’t representative of the whole picture—not by a long shot. It is about finding something that will motivate you and keep you going, and help you embrace the fact that you are here for a reason.

Moreover, this purpose should represent a personal goal that goes far beyond just being an alcoholic or addict. Remember, this is a spiritual program, not necessarily a religious one. That said, there is nothing wrong with holding a traditional understanding of God.

Getting Help for Alcoholism or Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship that has helped millions of people over the last few decades recover from alcoholism and prevent relapse. This organization achieves this, in part, by promoting accountability to others and providing long-term emotional support to participants.

For many, however, support groups alone are not enough. Alcoholism is a chronic, lifelong disease, and therefore, people who suffer often benefit from intensive medical and psychological treatment.

Recovery by the Sea offers comprehensive, customized programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We make use of evidence-based therapies, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Substance abuse education
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Art and music therapy
  • Aftercare planning

Contact us today if you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism or the abuse of other substances. We help people who need it most restore sanity to their lives and break free from the cycle of addiction for life!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

The third step in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous Reads as follows:

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

In step 3 AA, members are asked to make a decision. Being willing to turn one’s will over to God or a “higher power” is vital because it allows us to unburden ourselves and see things more clearly. 

Turning Over Our Will in Step 3 AA

After we have worked through the first two steps, we have learned and accepted that our lives have become unmanageable. We admit that we are, indeed, alcoholics and that a power higher than ourselves can restore us to sanity.

Now, we can surrender our lives unmanageability. We can let go of a life of self-will operating unchecked by deciding to surrender it over to a higher power and allow something else to care for us. We can stop banging our heads against the wall, trying to force everything to happen as if we ourselves are in charge of everything in our lives.

Recovery is inherently a spiritual process, and during step 3, hope, faith, and trust are fostered, allowing us to take a deep breath and feel calm and peaceful again. In step three, members are asked to surrender their will, and as a result, will be restored to truth, honesty, stability, and peace of mind.

Step 3 AA: Seeking Knowledge

When working through step 3, we examine how acting merely on self-will means engaging in behaviors that are bereft of consideration for others. We have been obsessed with fulfilling our own desires for alcohol and neglecting the needs and feelings of others around us. While we were busy following our impulses, we left devastation behind us and became disconnected from our conscience and our higher power.

While working through step 3, however, we begin to turn our attention to understanding what our higher power’s will is for us. Making the decision to surrender our lives and will doesn’t do us any good unless we take action. Merely deciding without supporting it with the necessary action has little to no meaning whatsoever.

In AA, many beneficial recovery tools have been effective at sustaining long-term sobriety and a relationship with God or a higher power. Most people have heard of the “Serenity Prayer,” a simple statement adapted from a prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. Reciting this prayer can help alcoholics as they are seeking knowledge and make the decision to surrender each day:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Using this prayer, we can learn to accept with peace the current reality of our condition. And while it’s true that we cannot control the decisions and actions of others, we can, however, decide how we will act in any given situation. We may not be able to change everything in our life, but we can choose to be willing to surrender, trust, and cultivate knowledge.

Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

Understanding God as We Know Him

For some people, the idea of “God” isn’t something to be entertained. Some grow up in strict, religious homes, and this experience has left a bad taste in their mouths. Many others are atheists or have a different brand of spirituality than those who identify as Christian, Muslim, or Jewish. Requiring someone to turn their will over to a higher power in these situations can seem like a lot to ask.

Those who have not previously believed in a higher power can be relieved to know that, in AA, you do not have to accept anyone else’s interpretation of “God.” Instead, you have the freedom to identify your own idea of who God or your higher power is for yourself.

Some must put away prejudice and foster the willingness to seek a connection with a “Power greater than ourselves.” That higher power can be God, other creative forces, a oneness with nature or the universe, the possibilities are vast.

Getting Help for Alcoholism

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship that has been offering vital support to countless alcoholics over the past few decades. It’s important to note, however, that research shows that long-lasting sobriety is best achieved using twelve-step programs as a part of a broader, much more comprehensive treatment approach.

Recovery By The Sea offers group support in addition to evidence-based services, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and aftercare planning. Our skilled, caring staff are committed to ensuring that every client is given the tools they need to recover fully and enjoy long-term sobriety and wellness.

If you are ready to begin your journey to recovery and reclaim the life you deserve, contact us today and find out how we can help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT:  Step 4 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 4 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 4 AA | Understanding Step 4 | Recovery By The Sea

Step 4 of Alcoholics Anonymous – “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” The fourth step in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step journey to sobriety requires the member to recognize their own weaknesses. This action often demands both extraordinary courage and humility.

Facing Ourselves

People drink alcohol or use drugs for many different reasons. Substance abuse is compelled by a wide variety of emotions, including fear, guilt, anger, resentment, depression, and excitement. Only by understanding these emotions and our weaknesses can we hope to overcome them.

Through honest introspection, we see ourselves as we are, and not as precisely what we would like to imagine. Once a person can do that, he or she can begin the unpleasant process of change.

Step 4 reflects the moment when a person must confront the truth, which can be both painful and frightening. It’s difficult to accept and admit to ourselves that we are not perfect, and are instead profoundly flawed. For some, this can be a humiliating experience. We can, of course, take solace in the fact that we are not alone, and that everyone else also has many faults.

We can also remind ourselves of one vital fact: the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. It is usually the perils we cannot see that are the most dangerous. To correctly evaluate a situation and respond appropriately, we must first turn the spotlight on ourselves and confront our own misgivings and failings.

We must ask ourselves several important questions. For example, what is it, exactly, that prevents us from becoming sober? What character flaws or feelings create a barrier between ourselves and success? What are the emotions, behaviors, and events that have contributed to our downward spiral? Which relationships are toxic? Start with the obvious, then keep examining inward in more detail.

Taking Responsibility for One’s Shortcomings

Unfortunately, the ego is often a barrier to accurate self-assessment. Self-importance and clever yet false justifications obstruct the path ahead. Simply put, pride impedes progress.

Many deny to themselves and others that they have significant character flaws. In the end, most of us find it easier to blame other people for contributing to our alcohol abuse. We point the finger at everyone, and everything, except ourselves.

During step 4, this is the time when all these justifications must fall away, and we begin to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. Fortunately, no AA member has to handle this task alone. They have other peers to lean on for support, and sponsors to hold them responsible for their sobriety.

The truth can be uncomfortable but also liberating. It can allow us to discard our old habits and beliefs and substitute them with healthier ones. Indeed, this is the moment we begin to break free from the chains that shackle us to alcoholism.

Step 4 AA | Understanding Step 4 | Recovery By The Sea

How Do You Complete This Step?

1. Be honest to yourself about your moral failings—you can learn from them. They can provide you with insight as to why you started drinking in the first place.

2. Admit that the problem is within yourself and ditch the word “blame” from your lexicon. You alone are responsible for your behavior.

3. Work intimately with your sponsor. He or she will share their weaknesses with you as well, for solace and security.

Examples of a Moral Inventory

“I deceive the people I care about, and I am hurting them.”

“I have estranged those around me with my selfishness.”

“I bring others down with my self-hatred and shame.”

“I am self-sanctimonious and highly judgmental of others.”

“I have a bad temper, and I have taken my rage out on the ones I love.”

What Are Some Tips for Completing Step 4?

1. Don’t hold back. You won’t benefit from this step or if you don’t own up to your faults, poor decisions, and negative behavior.

2. Trust yourself and your sponsor. Always remember that you are far more than the sum of your mistakes.

3. Be thorough and write down an inventory. This document will likely be the first tangible evidence of your recovery.

Myths About Step 4 AA

Some people falsely believe that this step is meant to tear you down. However, AA participants who complete this step often report feeling newfound confidence once they’ve finally confronted themselves and their actions. They are ready to begin the next chapter of their lives as sober and improved versions of themselves.

Treatment for Alcoholism

While support groups such as AA can be immensely helpful for people trying to recover from the stages of alcoholism, for some, it is not enough on its own. Total, sustainable recovery sometimes requires professional help and long-term intensive treatment.

Recovery By The Sea offers a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to alcoholism. Our programs include essential therapeutic care, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and much more.

Contact us today if you are ready to break the cycle of addiction for good—we can help!

Step 5 Of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

The fifth step in the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous reads as follows:

“We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Step 5 AA requires us to confess the “exact nature” of our mistakes and wrongs to God, ourselves, and others. In doing so, we are humbling ourselves by fully recognizing the fact that we have behaved in ways that have hurt us as well as our loved ones. Choosing a person to help facilitate the healing process helps us become aware of the things with which we have not been honest concerning our alcoholism.

Often, people who work through this step report experiencing a tremendous amount of emotional relief, in addition to deep personal insight. Completion of this step allows us to return to sanity and offers us a greater recognition of who we are.

A Closer Look at Step 5 AA

By now, we have realized that only by admitting to our addiction can we stop drinking and move forward into recovery. The same is true regarding the confessions we make in step five. Until we honestly share and concede the exact nature of our wrongdoings, we will not likely have the willingness or capacity to choose any other life for ourselves.

During this step, it often feels foreign for some to sit down with another person and discuss one’s character flaws, secrets, and destructive behaviors. However daunting it may seem, upon completion, this act can provide a person with great relief and additional motivation to move on. By honestly sharing one’s worst moment with another, such as a sponsor, one can also begin to develop an image of who he or she would like to become.

The key is to be vulnerable, humble, and not to hold back. Step 5 offers an opportunity for individuals to begin freeing themselves from their past and become open to receiving forgiveness and love. This step is not about shame, blame, or placing judgment. This step is about admitting that we are not perfect, and in doing so, we can begin to figure out what we did wrong in the past. We can then use this insight to find ways to ensure that we do not commit these wrongs again in the future. 

Breaking Free From the Cycle

Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

While working through step 5, we will begin to see our unhealthy patterns of behavior, what is driving them, and the reasons for them. At this point in recovery, we can start referring to these destructive patterns of behavior as “character defects.” Moreover, these behaviors usually reflect underlying character flaws, which are the catalyst for much of our unconventional actions.

In fact, this step serves to lead us into step 6, where we will engage in a thorough examination of how each of our defects plays a role in maintaining our active disease. Then, in step 7, we ask God or our higher power to remove them.

Why Working Through Step 5 AA Is Critical

Completing step 5 is essential because most people who suffer from addiction suppress certain damaging memories or keep them hidden away from others. Bringing them out into the open for inspection, however, can actually help to alleviate the distress that they produce.

Alcoholics and addicts are prone to leading a double life, more so than most others. An alcoholic can sometimes become very adept at presenting themselves in ways that he or she wants others to see. After completion of this step, people in recovery are more prepared to face the world, let go of their fears, and foster an improved sense of peace and satisfaction with themselves.

Getting Treatment for Alcoholism

Over the past few decades, Alcoholics Anonymous has supported millions of people seeking help for the disease that is alcoholism. According to statistics published by the fellowship, in 2016 alone, around two million people worldwide were active members.

It is clear that AA works for those who are motivated to recover, are willing to work the steps, and follow the advice of veteran members and sponsors. That said, research has shown that group support is most beneficial when used as a part of a broader comprehensive program. 

These programs, such as those offered by Recovery By The Sea, consist of several evidence-based therapies and holistic practices. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Peer group support
  • Substance abuse education
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Art, music, and adventure therapy
  • Aftercare planning

If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, we would love to enroll you in one of our partial hospitalization or outpatient addiction programs. Although alcoholism is considered to be a chronic, “incurable” disease, it can be effectively treated. We strive to provide all of our clients with the tools and support they need to be successful in their recovery journey.

Are you ready to reclaim the life you deserve? Contact us today and find out how we can help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Step 6 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 6 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 6 AA | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Step 6 in the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous reads as the following:

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

This step is the halfway point along the 12-step journey. Step 4 asked participants to make a moral, and step 5 asked them to admit to their faults. When a recovering alcoholic reaches step 6, he or she will be required to look to a higher power to help them overcome their failings.

Preparing for the Battle

It is important to notice what Step 6 does not say. It does not require people to change their lives, but, instead, it asks them to appeal for some relief. This is one of the primary differences between AA and other programs. AA doesn’t demand that people change using sheer willpower alone.

Yes, people must be ready to discard old routines and unhealthy thoughts, but the burden isn’t entirely on them. Instead, they will request help from a higher power to provide them with the strength they need to transform their lives.

Step 6 also does not yet ask a person to abandon their bad habits altogether. The words must be read carefully: “were ready.” In other words, a person must be willing and motivated to evoke changes.

AA will ask members to turn their lives and their trespasses over to a higher power, but not until they are wholly prepared to do so. With step 6, alcoholics do not even address the need to take substantial action. They must be contented with altering their expectations and attitude.

Step 6 AA: Overcoming Faults Using a Higher Power

At this stage of recovery, people prepare themselves for things to come. This qualification includes relinquishing control—not merely over alcoholism—but also the negative feelings and behaviors that have resulted in ruin and hopelessness.

Seizing Control by Surrendering

Honesty requires that recovering alcoholics make at least one admission: that patterns of thoughts and actions and the accumulated habits of years or decades control them. To relinquish control of these deficits to a higher power is to reclaim control in some sense, not lose it.

Unfortunately, people tend to hold on to their negative behaviors and feelings as if they were necessary companions. Feelings of pride, bitterness, and anger all seem to serve some sort of purpose. For some people, these feelings are believed to form a fundamental part of their personality. In other words, one might ask: “Who am I if I do not experience these feelings?”

Others erroneously believe that it is not possible to overcome intensely held emotions and behaviors. Freedom is only possible when the alcoholic finally understands that, in truth, such compulsions weaken their independence and impede their path to recovery.

Taking It One Step at a Time

Step 6 AA | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

When a person begins their path to recovery, they also begin the process of regaining control by surrendering. But this is not the first step—or the last. The important thing is not rushing through these steps, but taking them day by day, one at a time. It is not like waiting for an acute injury to heal. A disease, by nature, is chronic, and the treatment is ongoing.

Indeed, most experts now believe that addiction is a life-long condition, and there is no way to hurry it along. It will always be there, and progress takes time and requires tremendous patience. It also demands courage in the face of barriers and setbacks.

So, yes, it is often better to take baby steps. Rather than abandoning everything all at once, some people prefer to work on their faults one at a time. Others tend to dive in headfirst and never look back. Regardless of the approach, it is vital to speak with a counselor or sponsor. When people reach out for specialized help, they are far more likely to achieve their goals.

Finding Your “Higher Power”

The concept of a higher power can be interpreted in different ways. For this reason, no one else can tell you what this means to you. Some may say it must be a god or something spiritual and literally more powerful than ourselves.

Others say it could be someone—or something—that can help you change your life. An example might be something tangible, such as a career or a family. It may also be something a little more abstract or distant, such as “love,” “nature,” or just “reality.”

Some people find themselves conflicted over the concept of a “higher power,” especially those that do not associate with any religion or believe in a god. Many people in AA wrestle with this dilemma, but there are also countless who work through the twelve steps without compromising their own personal beliefs.

The most important thing to remember is that you have the ability to determine your own higher power. No one else can do this for you, and there are no restrictions on who or what you choose to identify as your higher power.

Step 6 AA | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

While there is no pre-defined “higher power” in AA, the concept of looking to a higher power in addiction recovery is fundamental. For people who believe in a god, it’s often easiest to give up control to that god. They will trust that this entity will help them confront the many difficulties and obstacles that come with achieving long-term recovery.

Conversely, for those who do believe in a God, accepting the concept of a higher power and finding one may be more challenging. While it may be tempting just to avoid the whole higher power thing altogether, understand that spirituality is actually a vital part of a person’s recovery.

Research shows that elements of spirituality are associated with positive outcomes. Fostering a healthy spirituality may create meaning and a purpose for life, and help individuals cope with severe life stressors, trauma, and all sorts of ups and downs.

If nothing comes to you, realize that, at least temporarily, you don’t even have to be spiritual, per se. However, it is an excellent idea to abandon nihilism as soon as possible and cultivate some sense of a more infinite and absolute truth.

If you are still struggling to find your own higher power, give it time. Talk to other people in recovery about how they found their own. You may find that, as you continue on your journey, your higher power eventually makes itself known to you.

Treatment for Substance Abuse and Addiction

For decades, Alcoholics Anonymous has been helping people maintain sobriety through peer support and accountability. Some have been able to use AA to recover on their own, while for others, professional treatment is needed.

Recovery By The Sea features comprehensive, evidence-based programs and services specially designed for the treatment of addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. We employ therapeutic modalities clinically proven to be vital to the process of recovery. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Peer group support
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Substance abuse education
  • Art and music therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Aftercare planning

If you are struggling to reclaim your life from alcoholism, contact us today. We are dedicated to helping those who need it most achieve sobriety, prevent relapse, and experience the long-lasting, happy lives they deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 7 AA | Step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

Step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous states the following: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.” 

This step of AA’s Twelve Step program of recovery is about reducing character defects by embracing humility and spirituality. Working through the 7th step requires a constant commitment to being honest, brave, and humble.

During steps 4 and 5, participants were asked to identify their assets and shortcomings. During step 6, we sought to become equipped to deal with these so that were prepared to take action in step 7. 

Quitting alcohol or drugs is a huge transition. Moving on to step 7 requires actively letting go of one’s defects, behaviors, and feelings that are holding one back. This transformation requires a tremendous amount of effort and courage.

It’s vital to remember that asking to be released from one’s shortcomings does not automatically make them vanish. It is up to the individual to be conscientious and make better choices. However, many in recovery do have faith that their higher power can remove their defects when asked to do so.

Working on the previous steps requires dismantling deep layers of denial, ego, and other harmful qualities that dominated one’s life when he or she was active in addiction. Arriving at step 7 implies being prepared to stop thinking as much about ourselves and what we are going to receive, and, instead, begin looking at how we can help others. Simply put, a higher power can help a person replace their addiction with something better.

Step 7 and Humility

When working on the 7th step, the idea of humility comes down to having a realistic perspective of oneself. Humility is being honest about one’s life and place in the world. This is the art of being “right-sized.” 

When a person apologetically asks their Higher Power to remove their shortcomings, they recognize that they are neither too great or too small. Ego, self-entitlement, shame, and regrets are all gone. 

By admitting one’s powerlessness over drugs or alcohol, one has already begun embracing humility. During this step, recovering addicts often realize that humility is not a state of despair, but rather a state of serenity and acceptance of life, despite whatever comes to pass. It is a continuing opportunity for a person to welcome humility as a central element of remaining sober.

Wishing It Does Not Make It So

Step 7 AA | Step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

Taking action and making progress means work. In AA, working through the steps means using one’s energy to be disciplined and dedicated to striving for long-term recovery. It takes effort to stand up for oneself, to be patient, and to endure the emotional discomfort of newfound behaviors.

Recognizing when we are responding adversely to our shortcomings, and altering these responses, does not come easy. However, the more familiar a person is with their defects, the more likely they are to stop and pay attention to what is going on in their mind and body. By practicing humility in step 7, one can gain a sense of their own humanity and their ability to possess compassion not only for others but for themselves.

We can evaluate progress in recovery by remembering who we were while using, rather than measuring ourselves against others. We can recognize our assets and wield them with humility, looking for an honest way of living in a reality free from the use of drugs and alcohol.

Great and enduring change happens slowly, and almost no one can let go of their shortcomings all at once. Our defects will continue to gradually disappear as we become conscious of them and take action, one day at a time. Recovery is about progress, not perfection. It’s about patience and the willingness to learn new ways of coping with the overwhelming urge to take the path of least resistance and return to our old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Getting Help for Alcoholism

Support groups like AA work best when used in conjunction with a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment program. Recovery By The Sea offers treatment in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. In addition to group support, our programs feature the following:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Counseling
  • Substance abuse education
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Health and wellness education
  • Aftercare planning

For many, professional treatment that includes these essential services is the first step toward long-lasting sobriety and a more fulfilling life. It only takes the motivation and willingness to change for the better and to accept that they are healthier ways of coping with stress than to turn to drugs and alcohol for misguided support.

If you are ready to get well and reclaim your life back from addiction, contact us today! We will provide you with the tools you need to succeed and enjoy a healthier, happier life!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Step 8 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 8 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 8 AA | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Step 8 of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous requires participants to have done the following:

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

The purpose of this step is to recognize that the effects of addiction aren’t only limited to the person suffering. Instead, there is an ever-expanding ripple that disrupts those closest to its impact the most, but also continues to affect people on the fringes of one’s life. Step 8 addresses this reality by focusing on the personal relationships of the individual in recovery.

Restoring Relationships

Previous steps in AA asked alcoholics to look either inward or upward, toward themselves or a higher power. So far, the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have required their members to recognize their limits, accept their faults, and cultivate a strong sense of resignation. Now, the program encourages participants to look both outward and forward.

It places a focus on relationships by asking addicts key questions, such as the following:

1) How have you harmed those closest to you, and how can you make amends?

2) How have you damaged your relationships, and how can you fix them?

Recovery Is in the Details

Unfortunately, many who make it to this step are tempted to go about it like this:

“I’ve hurt a lot of people I care about. I was wrong to do that. I promise I won’t do it again.”

However, this is not good enough—it’s not good and it’s not enough. Recovery doesn’t occur solely inside a person’s mind. It also takes place in the outside world, where negative consequences follow negative actions and behaviors, and people suffer harm as a result.

Anyone who wants to make substantial progress toward long-term sobriety must take tangible steps to correct past wrongs and build new, stronger bridges. This venture means one must focus on the details.

Every AA participant who encounters step 8 must ask themselves (and also answer) the following:

1) What precisely did I do to whom and when?

2) How do I right those specific wrongs?

The answers don’t have to be written down, but doing so is not a bad idea, either. Or perhaps you feel that it is best not to commit such personal information to paper. Either way, the names of those hurt should be recorded, followed by a few notes that describe why they are there or what needs to be done to make amends.

Step 8 AA | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Nothing Is Impossible

Mending relationships can be extremely challenging and seem impossible in some cases. How can any one person make amends for every wrong they’ve ever perpetrated on anyone? What if the other person won’t accept our pleas to amend the situation? What if we are rebuffed and further humiliated?

Those who are undertaking step 8 should find solace in its wording—”willing to make amends.” This statement means that you have to try to give it your best shot. That said, it’s not an excuse to cut corners. But you do have to realize that you don’t have to die trying to resolve issues with someone who doesn’t want them resolved.

All relationships are repairable, but, unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way. You have to do your best and take action whenever possible. We must seize the moment when it presents itself, and if the other person does not accept our apology or plan to make amends, that is their decision. You cannot control their actions or force them to take mercy on you.

Homecoming to Selflessness

There’s no retreating back from this step. Once a person in recovery has examined the damage, they can never unsee the consequences. On the positive side, that means they can move forward with less feeling of guilt and ignorance. By cleaning up the human ruins caused by addiction, people can travel forward with open eyes and outstretched arms.

Getting Treatment

AA and its principles have undoubtedly been helpful to millions of people trying to recover from alcoholism and other addictions. However, research has shown that the best approach to addiction treatment lies in a multi-faceted plan that also includes evidence-based therapies, such as behavioral therapy and counseling.

Recovery By The Sea offers comprehensive programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. Services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Peer group support meetings
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Substance abuse education
  • Art and music therapy
  • Health and wellness
  • Aftercare planning

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, we urge you to seek help as soon as possible. We are committed to ensuring each client receives the support and care they need to recover from all forms of addiction.

Contact us today if you are ready to break free from the chains of addiction and reclaim the healthy, fulfilling life you deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous

 

Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

Step 9 of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous reads as follows:

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

At this point in the recovery process, people who are working through the twelve steps must begin to repair strained and broken relationships actively. Alcoholics are not known for their honesty or their outstanding consideration for the people around them. Instead, alcoholics can be very deceptive, and often exhibit little concern for others as they engage in destructive patterns of behavior. They continue to act in this way because addiction, in part, leads people to fail morally at times.

Step 9 AA is the ideal time to let go of our past mistakes and to actively repair troubled relationships. Living with the weight of the need to make amends is not fun and holds us back. More importantly, living with the guilt and shame we have accumulated from past wrongdoings hinders us from moving forward and places us at risk for relapse.

If we are to improve ourselves as people, we need to avoid destructive behaviors actively. We do this not just for ourselves, but also because we are now aware of how our actions have affected others. An awareness of others replaces our selfishness and self-centeredness. What’s more, instead of being apathetic, we start to really care about them and want to make amends. 

A Closer Look at Step 9 AA and Making Amends

Step 9 may be the most daunting for many people and can result in a great deal of anxiety and fear. Many addicts dread facing other people and avoid dealing with their emotions.

There are three forms of amends:

Direct amends, which involve taking personal responsibility for one’s actions and directly confronting the person with whom one wishes to reconcile. Alcoholics Anonymous recommends that we make direct amends to those we have hurt whenever possible. 

This type of amends likely involves apologies and ensuring that the other person understands that their loved one is deeply committed to recovery. It also requires open communication and a desire on the part of the alcoholic to understand the other person’s feelings on the matter fully.

Indirect amends are a conscious act of helping others when one cannot reverse the damage he or she has caused. This type of amends has a sort of giving-back-to-the-community feel, in which the person in recovery seeks to make up for wrongs by offering his or herself up for the benefit of others. Activities may include volunteer work, becoming an AA sponsor, or donating money to important causes.

Living amends is a bit different than making amends, per se. It means being committed to a completely new, sober lifestyle, both for oneself and for those that have been harmed by one’s past behavior. It means inciting positive change through healthy and honest behavior and actions in addition to remaining sober. It more or less means amending how life is lived and positively and productively engaging with the rest of the world.

Instead of apologizing then repeating destructive behavior, it is far better to commit to living a sober and healthy life. To do so, commitment to never returning to former habits that have hurt those in one’s life is required. Living amends means continuing to improve relationships with a focused effort.

Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous | Recovery By The Sea

By now, people who have reached this step have begun making amends to themselves by altering unhealthy behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. This act in and of itself can be challenging and scary. However, when faced with the responsibility of confronting others, a person working this step may experience an enormous level of fear and expectation. There is often the fear of rejection or retaliation, or, as noted, having to deal with the emotional impact of making direct amends. 

You must realize, however, that making amends doesn’t always have to be a nerve-racking, stressful experience. It’s possible to be excited and hopeful about healing a relationship and finding relief from the emotional damage it has caused. Freedom can be achieved by letting go of the past and moving into a more peaceful existence in the present.

It’s not uncommon for people working this step to be eager to get this process over with. However, it’s crucial to avoid being impulsive or careless when attempting to make things right. Considerable thought and planning are needed to work toward the best possible outcome. 

It is also just as important to avoid putting off making amends. Many people in recovery have relapsed after they allowed their fears to keep them from completing step 9. And it’s also important to be realistic—there is no set timeline for completing this step. In fact, some amends will remain ongoing for some time, requiring long-term effort or never truly being completed.

What’s more, every time we make efforts to refrain from hurting those close to us, we have continued to make amends. These efforts might entail much more than just being sober. Alcoholics tend to incur financial, legal, and emotional consequences that have to be dealt with. And unfortunately, the time it may take to address all these problems is indefinite.

When Making Amends Could Cause Harm

Making amends can sometimes require us to step back an examine how our revelations could adversely affect others. Making amends should never lead to further harm being inflicted upon others. There may be situations in which contacting another person directly could be painful or cause harm to that person in some way. 

For instance, there may be a situation in which the person or persons we’ve harmed are not aware of it, and learning about it could harm them even more. Or there could be situations that involve other addicts or people who enabled the alcoholic, and, in coming clean, these people could get into trouble. Many types of situations may need careful consideration.

An AA sponsor can help others identify the best way to handle various scenarios and individuals when going through the process of making amends. They can help us examine our motives for confronting them with our addiction, wrongdoings, and apologizing. Does that person really need to know? What purpose is served by sharing this information?

The Essence of Step 9 AA

Giving and accepting love is something that needs to be done throughout recovery in addition to remaining sober. At this point, we should have eliminated many of the destructive behavior, attitudes, and feelings from which we used to suffer. In doing so, we are paving the way to let love, respect, and honesty back into our lives.

Guilt and shame are emotions that hold us in the past if we don’t deal with our issues and right the wrongs we have done to others. Through love and spirituality, we can free ourselves from the emotional anchor that weighs us down and begin to enjoy the freedom from addiction that we have sought for so long.

Getting Help for Addiction

By becoming a member of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship, millions of people yearly are promoting sustainable sobriety by using the support of peers and accountability. However, it is vital to note that 12-step programs and other support groups are most effective in early recovery when used as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program.

Such programs, such as those offered by Recovery By The Sea, include evidence-based services proven to be essential for the process of recovery. These services include, but are not limited to, psychotherapy, counseling, and aftercare planning.

We urge those who are suffering from alcoholism or addiction to seek help as soon as possible. Contact us today to discuss treatment options and discover how we help people reclaim their lives back from addiction once and for all!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Step 10 of Alcoholics Anonymous
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