Well, my friend in recovery, this is our third little talk together. I had my sponsor look over the first two, if you do not mind, and asked for his feedback. The good news is he felt it relevant, readable, and a good guide for the newcomer. What was the bad news? Well, you cannot do recovery alone was what he stressed. I had explained that this whole series is for folks who, for whatever reasons, have to keep their recovery a secret. The other cause of disagreement was I that was not going over your “Higher Power”. We had a long discussion over lots of coffee and many slices of pie. We may end up making this series its own little online recovery group. My outline of what we are going to cover has not changed. The mission of getting and keeping you clean in secret has not changed either. The main outcome is that I am going to create an instant messenger account for anyone who wants to get a hold of me anonymously and talk recovery. Whether you want to use, want to vent, whatever. I will give the names and the carrier when I pick one up. OK?
In tandem with us creating a way for us to talk in real time, I want to give you a glossary common in the recovery community, starting with recovery, and then your Higher Power. I am going to do it from memory and experience to not conflict with copyrights. I do want to take a moment and say the VA, and the original two of the 12 step fellowships have been an essential part of my recovery. I primarily draw upon them when sharing my experience. I also wish to thanks Michael’s Place* for getting me started on that golden journey that you and i call recovery. OK, my friend, let us go over some key words and concepts used by people in recovery. This includes counselors, people in the fellowship, better probation officers and anyone else familiar with struggling against a compulsion or addiction. Most, if not all, of the items covered in this ad hoc glossary will get their own article. I hope that this will help you if you hit the NA and AA pages and download the pamphlets and books. I should say right now that it is a good idea to do so.
Recovery – As much as we use this word, I figured we should cover it in the freedom from drugs sense. Recovery is the entire process of rebuilding a life without drugs and continuing to abstain from their use. It is using recovery as a lifestyle.
EXAMPLE: Life is more rewarding now that I put recovery first.
Higher Power – I have God in the traditional Catholic sense to look up to as my ‘Higher Power’. I am careful in life as well as recovery never to push my idea of God on people. We should always be respectful of others who ideas about a higher power differ from ours. This is an area that can have some folks blowing their cool or leaping of their square. It is who or what you recognize as being bigger than your self and acknowledging that you are not the center of the universe. Its easier said than done and requires a daily commitment, much like recovery. Some folks have been hurt badly by organized religion and it will show they share. Do not take it personal and avoid any urge to preach. Our focus is using God to help us get and stay clean.
EXAMPLE: My day does not end until I thank my Higher Power for another day clean.
The Steps – The 12 steps came to us from the very first fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill W. and Dr. Bob hammered out the miracle that begets miracles on a daily basis. I belong to AA and NA. Whenever your life allows you to join these fellowships, do so. For now, I am writing for people who, for whatever reason, have to be quiet about your new life clean. Eventually you have to get a sponsor to work the steps. We cannot do the steps alone and they are necessary to stay clean for any real length of time. Both AA and NA are very generous regarding their materials but I have to study the copyrights. I do want to use them in our online chats. As soon as I can get the proper permissions, we will go over them all, one at a time.
EXAMPLE: The hardest part of being clean on my own is I can’t really work the steps.
Inventory – This is an ongoing process in your recovery where you take stock of yourself, your recovery, where you have been, and where you are going. This one will most likely get a whole article to itself. It is considered bad form to publicly take inventory of someone.
EXAMPLE: She takes an inventory of everybody but herself.
Chaos – This is one of our big enemies. In recovery it refers to almost anything you can not control but think you can or we attempt to control. It mainly refers to what using and/or users bring into your life. Chaos’ unchecked presence in life will make a relapse likely.
EXAMPLE: He talks a good game about recovery but he leaves chaos in his wake.
Triggers – Very important concept that will be examined in depth later. These are the things that make you miss dope, make you want to use, and/or put your recovery at risk.
EXAMPLE: As much as I miss rock concerts, they are too big a trigger for me.
People, places, & things – A handy catchphrase that refers to the biggest, strongest, and most active triggers for most of us. Used by many and often by folks in recovery for a reason. I hope we have many online discussions about these.
EXAMPLE: I know running away does not help but I had to move. Mount Oliver is full of the people, places, and things i associate the dope lifestyle with.
Sponsor – A member of the same steps who walks you through the steps. The coach of your recovery program who you can question, confide in, and respect their answers regarding recovery. Again, I am trying to help people who need to be secret but this one is a must. Pray, and keep your eyes open and your Higher Power will put one in your life. I chose mine based on how much I liked their program, how they speak, how long they have been clean and how well they can see through bullcrap.
EXAMPLE: I have to go to a wedding but I want to see my sponsor about it first.
Big book – The nickname for the book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’. I know we are here because of opiates but addictive behavior is the same, pretty much, across all its platforms. By all means, at least take a look at it. It is a pretty big download but great to have. If it comes down to it, you can contact me and I will pick it up for you.
EXAMPLE: I am not wild about discussion meetings but I do love to talk about the big book.
Basic text – The NA version of the big book. It is just as well written and informative. Go download it as soon as you are done with us here. Again, if you hate to read off of screens and can not go to meetings, i will pick it up for you.
EXAMPLE: For as much as she cites the basic text you would think she would act like it a little more.
Relapse – The act of using again and all the events that led up to it. Obviously it is to be avoided at all costs. It is not an excuse to keep using. If it happened, you need to climb back on the horse ASAP. Sad to say, it happens to most of us. The key is to get back to your program immediately. I truly cannot stress this enough.
EXAMPLE: If I keep thinking that way, a relapse is sure to follow.
13th step – It is supposed to be used caustically about taking advantage of the other sex when they are new in recovery. It seems to have devolved into any sex during recovery. Let us face it, the libido comes back strong, we love excitement, and our bodies are starving for dopamine. The rule of thumb for most in recovery is to wait a year before starting a new relationship.
EXAMPLE: She started out as a 13th step and ended up bringing chaos and a relapse into my life.
The 12 traditions – These are not to be confused with the steps. These are pretty much guidelines for home groups and their organization and behavior. An interesting read, especially how they came about, but beyond the scope of our discussions. p>
Just for today – The motto of NA and a good one for all folks in recovery. It comes from a reading at the end of an NA meeting. Please download it from their site.
EXAMPLE: Work made it a tough day but I am ok if I do not use, just for today.
Serenity – The peace comes from being clean. The freedom from fear caused by active addiction. No more bounced checks, terror at a loud knock on the door, and all the other crap we put up with in addiction. Getting clean does not magically do away with all the problems we have but now we can face them with dignity and a healthy mind.
EXAMPLE: A cop asked me what time it was in the coffee shop. Instead of panic, I felt serenity wash over me.
The wreckage of the past – It is all of those rotten things that we did to get and use our dope. As much as I wish I could tell you they disappear, they do not. The good thing is that being clean prevents us from racking up fresh wreckage every day. In addition, knowing in our hearts that facing up to the effects of our drug use is repairing the life we want to have. We will discuss this on and off many times.
EXAMPLE: Two weeks into the job, the wreckage of the past reared its ugly head.
Amends – The process of clearing up the wreckage of the past and making peace with all you have harmed. The steps have you wait a little (#9) before you begin a concerted effort towards this. For us, it depends on what it was, who it is, and where we are now. We will have many talks about this one. EXAMPLE: The oldest child is the toughest to make amends work for her.
The Serenity Prayer – God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Learn it, love it, live it.
Well, my friend, that about does it for our discussion today. We covered my sponsor’s thoughts on this online recovery guide, some of the key words, phrases, and concepts used in recovery and I promised a way to get a hold of me. For now, use whatever device the associated content page has set up. I will chose and install an instant messenger program soon so we can chat in real time when needed. If you have any thoughts about suicide, get help NOW. I have lost family, friends, and acquaintances to this. Take those feelings seriously and get help. I want to close on a happier note than that. As tough at as today gets and as hard as our problems may seem, we are clean. That really counts for something. i am genuinely proud of you and look forward to us getting together soon. Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this.
*Michael’s Place is a Catholic halfway house in Pittsburgh, PA. It is primarily for men getting out of jail who have nowhere else to go. I am still indebted to them for the foundation that they gave me.