Restoring Sanity in 12-Step Programs from the Insanity of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

Many of us coming into recovery can relate to the bouts of ‘insanity’ we experienced while drinking and drugging, the lengths we went to obtain more of our drug of choice, the crazy things we barely remember doing. A more painful type of insanity stems from some the choices we made while in the merciless grips of addiction, which in hindsight truly do seem insane – as in, utterly irrational, harmful, and wrong, with long-lasting consequences that went against our best interests and harmed those around us. So, does that mean we were actually insane? Or just making immature mistakes? Or, to put it more kindly, exercising impaired judgment?

Restoration to Sanity Begins with Seeing Drugs and Alcohol in Context

Step 2 is the step in Twelve Step recovery programs that talks about how we (recovering alcoholics and addicts) came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, where the 12 steps were originally outlined, the chapter associated with Step 2 is entitled We Agnostics – a very telling chapter given that the book was written in 1939 when many North Americans were, arguably, considerably more religious than they are today. The entire chapter is dedicated towards showing non-believers that a higher power doesn’t have to be God or religion. This ground-breaking concept is what allowed AA’s founder, Bill Wilson, himself to accept a higher power and recover. The main premise of Step 2 rests on Step 1: Only once we have admitted that we by ourselves do not have power over our drug or alcohol dependency, and that our lives are unmanageable, are we asked to consider a higher power. The breakdown is simple: I can’t, something else can. Obviously. Otherwise, there would be no hope of recovery if sufficient power didn’t exist anywhere to halt the deadly progression of addiction. Seen in the context of Step 1, it is fairly easy to become willing to have hope that something, whether it is fully understood or not, can restore an addict to soundness of mind when it comes to their drug of choice.

Tips for Restoring Sanity from the Insanity of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

So, all that’s required to overcome addiction is a life-changing spiritual transformation? No wonder many people become overwhelmed at the thought. Not to worry: at Renascent, Toronto’s leading drug and alcohol treatment centre, we help people find hope and real, lasting recovery every single day. Change is easier than you think, no matter how hard the situation currently seems. Here are some recovery tips to find your sanity in the storm:

  1. Admit to your innermost self that you have a problem, that it’s not getting any better, and that left to your own devices, it will only get worse. This allows you to stop wasting energy fighting the truth and wishing it were not so; you can instead spend that energy solving your problems.
  2. When people talk about God or higher power, listen with an open mind. Seek out people in Twelve Step meetings who mention their faith, spirituality or beliefs and ask them questions. Read the literature. Many people make their 12-step home group itself their higher power, at least initially.
  3. There is no substitute for personal experience; your best teacher will be your own efforts to find a higher power from which to draw strength, guidance and direction to aid in your recovery. Seek out spiritual teachers, books, programs, and services to see what resonates with you. Write down your experiences, questions and thoughts on the whole issue of higher power and being restored to sanity.

The consciousness of your belief, and of receiving unconditional help and healing, is sure to come to you if you seek it out.

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.