Heinz Thorvald

Heinz Thorvald
Texas, USA
March 24
I spent several years working stressful and dangerous jobs, both domestically and internationally. I've been to a lot of interesting places and have many outrageous stories. I am finally at a point in my life where I am settling down. I have a house and a growing family and it is proving to be quite the adventure. This is a place for me to get out thoughts, ask opinions, and just basically rant about stuff. All thoughts, ideas, and opinions are welcomed. Enjoy. BTW...the picture is not me, and I write using a pseudonym.

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JANUARY 12, 2012 12:32PM

My 12 step dilemma and a problem at N.A. meetings.

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Today I am going to revisit a previously discussed topic, just from a different point of view.  The topic, my addiction.  For those of you that follow my blog, you already know the story.  For those reading for the first time, I am an addict.  To understand better, or to refresh your memory... Pain medication: The story of my addiction.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's proceed.

My addiction and Narcotics Anonymous experience differed from most.  At least in my experience with my group.  Almost everyone that came to the weekly meeting that I attended had a criminal record.  They were addicted to the various assortments of illegal narcotics.

I have never used illegal narcotics, and I have no criminal record.  At the time when I was attending meetings all I'd ever used was prescription pain medication that was prescribed to me for shoulder pain due to a line of duty injury.  I was also currently working as a patrol supervisor for a private security firm.  I was in charge of the patrol division, and spent my evenings patrolling around the big city of Dallas in a marked patrol vehicle.  I was often mistaken for state law enforcement.  I carried a sidearm and all the same equipment on my duty belt as a police officer (if not more).  My past employment included local and state agencies, and even government contract work domestically and internationally.  I had made arrests of people similar to those in the meetings.

That made sharing during the meetings very...complicated.  I had an at-length conversation with my sponsor and grandsponsor concerning what was and was not appropriate to share during meetings.  We didn't want anyone new coming to a meeting and being frightened away thinking I was currently a law enforcement officer.  It was somewhat taxing, but I was able to keep my stories generic enough to not alarm anyone that didn't know the situation.  There was always an after meeting gathering at the nearby IHOP, where the core members of the group were there and I was able to speak freely.

That was my problem.  Now on to my 12 step dilemma.

The 12 steps to serenity.  Core principles.  Fundamental and indispensable rules to follow.  The only way to proceed if you wish to succeed. 

My dilemma?  Most of these either didn't apply to me, wouldn't work for me, or I didn't believe in them.  Here are the 12 steps, and I'll go over them one by one.

**I bear no animosity towards the steps, I've seen them help many recovering addicts.  I just view life differently and have a different set of core beliefs that contradict the steps.  The program works, and I am thankful for the assistance and fellowship I received at a time when I needed it most.**

1.  We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.

I am NOT powerless over my addiction.  I looked at the pill bottle, and then instead of taking more, I put it down and drove myself to a meeting.  My choice.  That is my power...choice.  My life was not unmanageable.  It was starting to get there, but with the support of the meetings, I turned it around and took control.  Again, more power.

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

While I am spiritual and have my own set of beliefs, they don't fit into this situation.  There is no power that is greater than my own self, and my free will.  I make my own path, and I am the master of my destiny.

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

Again, I have beliefs, but not that there is a "God" in the way that it is a person, or is by any means tangible.  You can't just wait for something outside of yourself to take over and guide you.  You have to make your own decisions and make things happen yourself. 

4.  We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

This step I agree with completely.  You have to look in the proverbial mirror and gaze deep into yourself with sheer and utter honesty.  You must see everything that is there and realize it.  If you do not realize there is a problem, you can't do anything to fix it.  This step stays, just moved to the first position instead of the fourth.

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

I partially agree with this and partially disagree.  In comes the religion again.  Admitting to your "God" as you see him/her, I believe is pointless.  Admitting to another person, that happens when you come into the Narcotics Anonymous program...this will happen if you go to meetings.  You share.  That's what happens at meetings, so putting it in the steps is kind of pointless.  Admitting to yourself, now that's the important part.  You have to realize and admit that there is a problem before you can take steps to fix said problem.  That should be step two in my book.

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

There's that "God" as we see him/her person again.  The only person that can remove your character defects is you.  Put a convicted murderer in prison.  Is it the prison itself, the guards, or the other inmates that make this person decide to commit murder again or not?  No.  It is something that you must do on your own, in your own self.

7.  We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Sheesh, there he/she is again!  And "shortcomings?"  Wouldn't a shortcoming be classified as a character defect?  Didn't we just deal with this in the last step?  Combine the two steps into one.

8.  We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

This step is somewhat necessary, and somewhat not.  I've seen it help, and I've seen it make a situation worse, even to the point of splitting families apart.  With me, the only person I really hurt was myself.  The fact that I'm in the program and getting off the meds, that's making the amends.

9.  We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

This step and the previous step should be combined into one step also.  Make a list, and execute it.  And the part about wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others?  In my experience, making these amends is going to cause pain to the other person.  Either do it or don't.  Don't say "whenever possible."

10.  We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

This step is necessary.  Kind of a no-brainer though.  If you are trying to fix your shortcomings and character defects, you have to continually look inward to make sure you are making forward progress.  Admitting where you were wrong is also very important.  Bingo.  Step four.

11.  We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

This is wrong in so many ways.  "God" as we understand him/her is not going to do anything for us.  Praying isn't going to do anything for us.  His will?  We are here to get over our addiction.  This is about OUR will, not anyone else's.  No one can do this for us; we must do it for ourselves.  Meditation is good for self-reflection and quieting inner turmoil, so we'll leave that in.  We'll make this step five.

12.  Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The awakening we have can be called spiritual, but not in the definition these steps refer to.  We have been awakened, and it is very spiritual.  Carrying the message to other addicts and practicing these principles in all our affairs is very important.  Just remove the word "tried."  Step six.

The word "try" is in a LOT of the literature for Narcotics Anonymous and, I believe, in Alcoholics Anonymous as well.  My sponsor and I both have an abhorrence to the word "try."  Stating that you are going to "try" and do something is setting yourself up for failure.  Oops, oh well, I tried.  That doesn't work for me.  Either do something, or don't. 

I understand that when we do something, we sometimes fail.  Using the words "I'm going to do (a thing)" sets your brain in a place where you strive for success...it's what you set out to do in the first place.  When you say, "I'm going to try to do (a thing)," your brain is in a place where failure is a perfectly acceptable and viable option.  


The steps as were written for my use,

1.  Take a deep and honest look into yourself and see what/where the problem is.

2.  Admit to yourself that you DO in fact, have a problem.

3.  Take your problems/character defects/shortcomings, and remove them from your person.

4.  We continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, we promptly admit it to ourselves.

5.  Through meditation and self-reflection we will quell our inner disquietude and dysphoria, building our stalwartness to continue moving forward towards our goal.

6.  Having awakened oneself as a result of self-reflection, conviction, and perseverance, we carry this message to other addicts and practice these principles in all our affairs.

Six steps.  I've cut the list in half and trimmed a bunch of fat off the remaining steps.  This is how I used the steps, and it worked for me.  I approach life differently than most though.  I grew up around someone that was staunch and enduring, and became so myself.  I am very tenacious.  "If something needs done, you do it...period."  That's just how I was raised. 



**Again, I would like to mention that the program works.  I in no way endorse these six adjusted steps for anyone to use.  They were for my use only.  For most addicts, these 12 steps are what they need.  Use them and the meetings as you need them.  I am very stubborn and tend to do things my own way.  I custom tailored these steps for my own personal use with the help of my sponsor and grandsponsor as well.  My grandsponsor has been in the program for 25 plus years, and has lots of personal experience with health issues and needing to take prescription medication including prescription narcotics for health reasons. 

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Heh! I knew there was a reason I kept reading your stuff! :D

I never attended NA, but I did attend AA for a while. FOR ME it didn't do squat for mainly the same reasons you've laid out: I AIN'T helpless; there AIN'T no big Sky Daddy who's gonna make it all better and I DON'T have an incureable disease.

I finally got hooked up with a SERIOUSLY cool psychologist who turned me on to Smart Recovery. Dr. Horvath (the seriously cool psychologist) recommended SR because it wasn't "god" or "disease" based, but treated addiction as a cognitive psychological problem AND provided the necessary tools to solve the REAL underlying reasons for my binge drinking.

As a result, I can now enjoy alcohol without worrying about "demon drink" being something I am NEVER able to overcome without divine intervention.

SR's tools work for a variety of addictive behaviors (from drugs/alcohol to chocolate/sex), as well as assisting with daily stuff in general.

I know Leslie Basden (who is a certified addiction counsellor who writes here on OS) is a big fan of SR & Dr. Horvath, as well.

:) I'm glad someone agrees with me. I was really worried when I wrote this. The last thing I want to do is offend someone or turn them off from seeking assistance in their recovery. This is basically just a documentation of my stubborness and how I took the steps and custom tailored then to fit my needs. I've seen the 12 steps work wonders with people who are religious, but on the flip side, I've also seen or heard of most of them relapsing. Part of one of the chants is "...It works if you work it...," and I find this to be true. You have to custom fit the program and the steps to fit your individual needs, and that is exactly what I did.

I came across Smart Recovery after I was well into the NA program, and switching wouldn't have made much sense. How I came to be in NA was a very rapid decision.
I was staring at the pill bottle, my craving screaming at me to take the medicine. I knew that despite my craving, I really didn't want to take the pills. The NA program from the show "Dexter" popped in my head. I looked up a local meeting and was out the door literally five minutes after beginning my search. I knew that I could get over this, I just needed a little support from someone going through the same thing. And it worked. :)