Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.
Today’s three word sentence is probably one of hardest, but most rewarding for those who have uttered it. It’s the bedrock of the Alcoholics Anonymous program – I’m an alcoholic. The absolute first step in getting help for an alcoholic is to admit that they have the problem that they really aren’t in control of their drinking and never will be. For an alcoholic there is no such thing as a social drink – that is just the first drink towards getting drunk. I’m an alcoholic.
The same concept holds true for the Drugs Anonymous program and the Gamblers Anonymous program. You must admit it to yourself and others before you can get help. You have a problem that is out of control. There are no self-help programs for wife beaters or pyromaniacs or shoplifters. They end up in jail or worse. Sometimes it’s only when things get that extreme that they can admit – I’m an alcoholic.
For an alcoholic the, moment of truth is when they stand up at a meeting or maybe before a loved one and say it out loud – I’m an alcoholic. There’s no second sentence; no saying, but it; s Ok I’ve got it under control. You don’t have it under control and you never will, that’s why you’re standing there. It’s a big and scary first step, but it’s probably the best first step you’ll ever take. I’m an alcoholic.
People who have been through the program never say that they are a recovered alcoholic. At best they may say that they are a recovering alcoholic; because they know that it is a never-ending battle. They cannot declare victory and move on. In fact many continue to go to AA meetings years after they have had their last drink for two reasons – to provide support for others and to continue to reinforce their own decision. Getting up and stating that I’m an alcoholic and I took my last drink 15 years ago may get a round of applause at the meeting, but it’s how good it makes the person feel about them self that really counts. I’m an alcoholic.
There might not be support groups for many of the things that we need to fix about ourselves and hopefully they are things that will eventually lead us to jail or worse; however, the critical first step to doing anything to correct the problem(s) is that admission that we have the problem. It’s not enough to just admit it to yourself. You have to go public with it, at least sharing it with your family or loved ones. While holding yourself accountable is a noble idea, it is important that we have someone else that can watch our progress and give us feedback. We need someone to look us in the eye and say you screwed up; you didn’t do what you promised to do. You also need someone to pat you on the back and say great job when you reach a new milestone in your recovery, whether it be days or months or years. You need some help when you admit – I’m an alcoholic.
So take that first step. Find a support group and stand up and say “My name’s Bob and I’m a XXXXXXXX”. Whatever it is you will be well on your way to being an ex-XXXXXXXX. You’d be surprised how many people there are out there just waiting to support you in your effort to overcome your addition to whatever has a grip on you now. Below are some links to groups that might be able to help you, depending upon the problem or addiction.