When you begin addiction recovery, just putting down the drink or drug isn’t enough. Sure, quitting substances when you’re struggling with addiction to them is great. However, recovery tends to involve more than just abstaining.
Often, there’s “work” involved in recovering from addiction, as well as pain, emotional, or mental health issues. You can begin that work in a variety of ways, such as a self-directing healing journey, entering an addiction treatment program, or committing to working through the 12 Steps programs like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous.
If you’re familiar with AA or NA, you’ve probably heard about the 4th and 5th steps. These steps deal with discovering what has been tripping you up in life. They encourage you to start revisiting your past and begin to deal with things you may have been turning a blind eye to.
Alcohol or drug addiction is typically only a symptom of a greater problem. Once you remove the substance and become sober, you have the opportunity to delve deeper under the surface to face, feel, and heal at a greater level. This is what Steps 4 and 5 are all about.
You might not know what is lurking deep within you that has been holding you back or causing you to feel like you have to drink or take drugs. The ego has a way of relegating tough-to-handle emotions to the shadow side, but those issues don’t just disappear. They tend to surface from time to time in order to give you a chance to work through them.
The 4th Step of the 12 Steps in AA or NA encourages you to do an “inventory” of all of your flaws, defects, and shortcomings.
Step 4 reads: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
This is not typically an easy task. In fact, many guys in recovery shy away and drag their feet on completing Step 4. It may be challenging to think about your past, mistakes, childhood trauma, people you hurt, or negative emotions that have plagued you for years.
Though challenging, doing a little digging is necessary in order to complete Step 4. Illuminating what may be hiding or unhealed is important to get to the root of major issues and work toward freedom from negative patterns of thought, denial, pain, negative emotions, and so much more.
Getting free from past hurts, trauma, negative emotions, etc. can certainly help you experience more peace and happiness – and that can help you feel less desire to turn to drinking or taking drugs.
Step 5 reads: “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
This step involves you sitting down with your sponsor, mentor, counselor, etc. and reviewing Step 4 openly and honestly. It is a time of letting your guard down, being vulnerable for the sake of release, growth, and freedom. It is a time of allowing a power greater than yourself to heal what needs healed and remove your defects so that you can walk in joy and peace. It is a chance to dive deep into the core of your being to discover who you really are underneath years of programming or running.
You might not feel like you are ready to wrestle with a myriad of negative feelings you’ve been numbing. It’s common for men to get into recovery feeling emotions like anger, rage, shame, jealousy, fear, bitterness, regret, depression, and more. They may not know how to deal with the intensity of such emotions.
In addition, you may not know how to deal with recurring defects or traits that keep popping up, like selfishness, aggression, pessimism, sarcasm, impatience, insensitivity, laziness, and so on. Those negative traits that have gotten you into trouble or caused broken relationships will need some tending to as you progress in your recovery.
The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re working Steps 4 and 5, you have your sponsor right there with you the whole way. If you don’t have a sponsor, you can work through these steps with a counselor or trusted mentor. In doing so, you have the hopes of freedom from all those negative emotions and defects to look forward to. Who wouldn’t want to let go of all the former defects and feel happy, joyous, and free?
Overcoming addiction takes work, time, patience, and dedication. Just being sober or clean may only take you so far. To really get through negative emotions or situations that have been tripping you up, consider working through the 12 Steps in progression on a consistent basis.
Are you willing to do that even if it is scary or painful? Are you willing to trust a higher power? Do you want a chance to say goodbye to your defects and hang-ups?
If your defects and flaws are still a big part of your life, evaluate where you are in step work or inner healing work. Have you ever taken time to work through the 12 Steps, inside or outside of a program? What step are you actually working on? Have you really put forth effort into Step 4 and 5? If not, maybe it’s time that you make the progress toward them.
Addiction is a cunning disease that does not want you to get free from symptoms that have caused you to drink or take drugs in the past. However, there are effective treatment methods and recovery paths that can help you get free from addiction, and go on to become a happier, healthier, more peaceful human being. The 12 Steps are simply one path that can help you get there.
If you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Here at Into Action Recovery Society, we offer an alcohol rehab program, as well as a drug rehab program in the Vancouver area that has helped many men get free from addiction and go on to create the kind of life they truly desire.
Give us a call today. We’d love to get you started on your path to freedom.