The 12 Steps are something that you may be intimately familiar with if you have battled drug, alcohol or other types of addictions in your life. In fact, you’ve likely heard of them even if you aren’t dependent on drugs or alcohol. However, for those who aren’t familiar with the concept, the steps require a person to realize that addiction is something that they have no control over. Furthermore, they require a person to find a higher purpose in life, atone for their prior mistakes and take accountability for their actions each day.
What Is Step 10?
Step 10 asks you to take a regular inventory of what you have done right and what you have done wrong. You are then asked to take responsibility for the things that you do wrong and atone for them if possible. Many people interpret this to mean taking a daily inventory of their words, thoughts and actions. Of course, this could also mean taking time to consider your words or thoughts immediately before or after choosing to do something.
Why Is This Step So Important?
For many people, addiction is something that they never truly recover from. It’s not uncommon for those who have substance abuse problems to stay sober for months or years before returning to their old ways. In many cases, this is because they wrongly assumed that they had their problem under control and could limit themselves to a single drink or single hit of their favorite substance.
Of course, if you believe in the first nine steps of the plan, you realize that you have no control over your addiction and that it’s never a good idea to believe otherwise. Therefore, you need to continually take stock of your thoughts and actions to ensure that you aren’t getting complacent or otherwise losing the discipline needed to stay sober.
Taking stock of yourself each day may also make it easier to see what your triggers are and how to avoid them. For example, you may find that you are more tempted to use alcohol while driving by a liquor store or when you hear that others are going to the bar. It’s also possible that Fridays and Saturdays are triggers because you used to drink or smoke primarily on weekends.
Finally, remaining mindful of your actions can help you better understand how they can impact others around you. For example, if you and your spouse got into a fight because you joked about drinking a bottle of beer, some quiet reflection may make it easier to see why your spouse was angry at you.
The most likely explanation is that your partner has seen what alcohol use has done to you and the problems it has caused in the past. By joking about drinking again, you are minimizing both your recovery and the bad things that you put a loved one through prior to getting sober. After a period of reflection, you can approach your spouse to apologize in a meaningful way, which may preserve the relationship. Reflecting on your misdeeds also reduces the risk that you’ll engage in the same poor behavior again in the future.
Daily Reflection Can Help You Learn the Benefits of Structure
It’s not uncommon for people who suffer from addiction to also experience symptoms of ADHD or other mental health disorders. Those who are diagnosed with mental health conditions may feel like it’s hard to concentrate or make sound decisions at all times. Individuals who experience ADHD may also have trouble falling asleep at night and may be more prone to making choices that are driven by emotion as opposed to logic.
If this sounds like you, it’s especially important that you make an effort on a daily basis to collect your thoughts. Ideally, you will meditate, journal or engage in other activities that allow you to process your emotions at the same time each day. This will help you get into a routine, which can help to create some sort of structure in your life.
For instance, you may decide to meditate for 30 minutes each night before going to bed. By clearing your mind, you may find that it is easier to sleep. Getting an adequate amount of quality sleep each night may result in clearer thinking and other benefits to your mental health.
You Have to Live with the Consequences of Your Actions
Having a sponsor means that you have someone to talk to when you’re tempted to drink or use drugs. Going to group meetings means that you have a community of people who understand what you’re dealing with. For many, being part of a community gives their lives meaning, which can reduce the risk of making decisions that they may regret. You may also feel that being part of a community gives you a good reason to avoid making poor choices.
However, the real danger of relapsing occurs when you’re sitting alone in your apartment late at night or when you’re in another town visiting friends or conducting business. In those scenarios, it’s unlikely that your sponsor or anyone else in your group meetings will ever know what you’ve done.
In fact, going out of town for pleasure or business may be especially dangerous because you may feel as if whatever happens while away stays there. Of course, we all know that having a drink or doing drugs hundreds of miles away from home is the same as doing so in your own kitchen.
By constantly taking an inventory of your actions, you can keep yourself accountable when there is no one around to prevent you from making a poor choice. It can also help you remember the secondary consequences of relapsing such as gambling or engaging in infidelity because you aren’t thinking clearly.
Swallowing Your Pride May Prevent a Relapse
Pride can be a dangerous thing whether you are dependent on drugs or alcohol or not. It can be the reason why you choose to take a job you might not be qualified for or tell off the boss knowing that you are going to be fired. It might also be the reason why you believe that taking a drink isn’t a big deal or that using drugs won’t lead you right back to rehab.
If you’re like most addicts, you may feel as if your inability to gain total control of your addiction is an irredeemable character flaw. This may be true even if you adhere to the other steps that make it clear that this is not the case. However, as a human, you are prone to emotions such as pride or envy just like any other person.
Taking the time to inventory the things that you do can help you visualize all of the paths that might be available to you. For instance, instead of taking a drink out of spite, you might consider the pros and cons of calling your sponsor or simply keeping busy until the thought of using fades away.
Over time, you’ll likely see that allowing your pride to get the best of you results in nothing but additional misery and frustration. However, by leaning into the fact that you aren’t always right, you can avoid potentially destroying relationships with friends, losing your job or losing custody of your kids.
If you are ready to get help for a drug or alcohol addiction, the folks at Long Island treatment center are ready to provide it. There are a number of inpatient and outpatient programs available to meet your needs and give you the best chance of achieving long-term sobriety. We can also help those who have recently relapsed and need additional assistance to get back on a healthy, positive and productive path.