I Don’t Want to Lose Control Over My Life. How Can I Work the 12 Steps?

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Most alcoholics and addicts have already lost control. That’s how we found ourselves lucky enough to be willing to work the program of recovery. People don’t often ask for help when they’ve got everything under control and things are going well. Right? But we did ask for help, and thankfully the 12-Steps were there. We didn’t become alcoholics and addicts overnight, and we certainly didn’t become that way because we were in control. Think about it — none of us would have chosen to become alcoholics or addicts if it were up to us. We didn’t find ourselves desperate for recovery because everything was going our way.

Don’t let this strike you as harsh. It’s true for many of us. We don’t find the rooms of recovery on a winning streak. We find the 12-Steps because we are desperate, out of control, and powerless over our fatal disease. And yet, it’s so very human to want to remain in control. To try to cling to anything that makes us feel like we still have a choice and we still have some power. It’s in our nature, but it’s a dangerous drive that is fueled by our unchecked ego. The drive to have some control will literally sacrifice our very life to keep itself alive. 

Admitting Powerlessness

There’s a reason why the 1st-Step asks us to admit powerlessness. Sure, we may try to resist this admission. Nobody wants to be powerless. But we can’t really say we have any power left when we’re asking for help to save our life, can we? It sure would be a contradiction. If we aren’t powerless, then we must have the power to save ourselves from alcoholism and addiction. But we don’t, do we? If we did, we wouldn’t need help — we wouldn’t need the 12-Steps. But we’re here because we do. 

And here comes the beautiful part. If we can admit this, ask for help, and be willing to take the help, we can access a power greater than ourselves — one that can give us freedom from our deadly disease and a full, meaningful life in recovery.

Questioning Our Control

We can still work the 12-Steps without giving up control over our lives, but the odds are stacked against us getting different results. If we truly desire control, then we aren’t likely to make it far in the 12-Step process. At some point, the 12-Steps will ask us to turn our will over to our higher power, to admit powerlessness, and to be willing to follow guidance and direction. Can we do all that without losing control? Sure we can. But will it be effective? That is much less certain.

After all, did we not find ourselves lost to alcoholism and addiction? Did we not find ourselves asking for and truly needing help? Didn’t these things happen while we were in charge of our own lives? How much of our life is so good because of our direct control over it that we are willing to risk not recovering from alcoholism and addiction?

If the refusal to give up control is heavy on our mind, let us think seriously about these questions. Let us search our hearts and turn up honest answers. Let us also ask, if there is someplace in our life where we still have control, do we expect to suddenly be able to control our alcoholism or addiction as well? That question deserves a long and thoughtful turn in our head. If our own control was enough to free us of alcoholism and addiction, wouldn’t we have gotten ourselves free a long time ago? What makes us think our luck will turn around in the future? The change of luck we’re hoping for can be found in the 12-Steps of recovery at Jaywalker Lodge.

Letting the 12-Steps Take Control

If we find ourselves asking for help in recovering from alcoholism or addiction, the truth is that we’ve already lost control. Maybe we don’t want to admit it — nobody really wants to — but refusing to admit it doesn’t make it untrue. It’s a normal thing to want control over our lives, but for alcoholics and addicts like us, it might be best to confess that we’ve lost control. Perhaps it wouldn’t be the worst idea to let something else take control for a while. The 12-Steps want nothing but to free us from alcoholism and addiction so that we can help other people recover. The 12-Steps aim to introduce us to a higher power that can bring the control we’ve lost back into our lives. 

We aren’t signing up to be mindless drones, to work and think and talk like everybody else — not at all. We are being given a helping hand and a road to freedom that can restore us to wholeness and happiness. If all we have to do to begin building a life beyond our wildest dreams is admit that we don’t have control over our lives, is that really such a terrible bargain?

Alcoholics and addicts have often lost control over their disease long before they realize there is a problem. Luckily for all who suffer, there is a solution to alcoholism and addiction that really works. The 12-Steps are designed to produce the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that will bring freedom from alcoholism and addiction and provide the tools to live a happy, meaningful life. This solution has saved countless lives and it’s readily available to all who seek it, as long as they are willing to work the program. For those who feel they have tried it before, but experienced relapse, hope is not lost. No matter what you have tried before, no matter how many times you have slipped, recovery is still possible. If you are ready and willing to enter recovery, Jaywalker Lodge is here for you. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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