I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.

I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby juliemahooley » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:03 am

I moved away from my sponsor and don't have one here, but I relapsed recently and while I communicate with my sponsor that I moved away from via phone and Skype, she does not believe that you should rework the steps. One time is enough. I just don't know what to think. I was sober for 2 years and 4 months and had a relapse that lasted around 3 months and I feel as if I need to start over, but she disagrees. I've always gone with what she says and am unsure of what to do at this point. Input?
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby avaneesh912 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:41 am

Definitely. Its better to do that way. So you have a good understanding of the first step. See the first step many mis-understand. Alcohol is not the problem. We have a warped mind. The mental part of it. And the physical craving is a secondary problem. The primary one is the internal unmanageability that leads to in-sanity/the blind spot. Then all drama props up.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby Brock » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:56 am

Welcome to e-AA. I have seen this question here a few times, but always the other way around, people who have had a relapse not wanting to redo them, but the sponsor saying they should. Mind you usually it's a new sponsor the person has got since returning. I just hope your old sponsor doesn’t feel that if you need to redo them she didn't do a good job, and lets that influence her advise.

I am among a minority of AA members on this site, who believe a sponsors job is finished when the steps are finished, and one of the reasons I feel this way, is that we may fail to look inside and to our higher power for the answer, when our first inclination or advise is to ask a sponsor, another reason I feel this way is because the literature recommends that. With that in mind I would say that if you feel you should start over, there’s your answer right there.

Also to me it would be important to ponder on and try to understand why you had a relapse, so many report that their spiritual condition slowly degenerated, and as you know a fit spiritual condition is our #1 necessity, best of luck for a successful return to sobriety and serenity.
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby Stepchild » Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:30 am

Dr. Silkworth who wrote The Doctors Opinion in the Big Book wrote a couple articles for the Grapevine discussing slips/relapses...Pretty interesting....You can google them if you want. One is called Slips and Human Nature...and this is a part of one called Dr. Silkworth's Rx for Sobriety....

“To be sure, A.A. offers a number of highly useful tools or props. Its group therapy is very effective. I have seen countless demonstrations of how well your ‘24-hour plan’ operates. The principle of working with other alcoholics has a sound psychological basis. All of these features of the program are extremely important.”

“But, in my opinion, the key principle which makes A.A. work where other plans have proved inadequate is the way of life it proposes based upon the belief of the individual in a Power greater than himself and the faith that this Power is all sufficient to destroy the obsession which possessed him and was destroying him mentally and physically.”

“For many years I faced this alcoholic problem being sure of one scientific fact - that detoxication by medical treatment must precede any psychiatric approach. I have tried many of these orthodox psychiatric approaches and invented some new ones of my own. With some patients I would be coldly analytical, if they were of the so-called ‘scientific’ type who is apt to have a superior attitude toward anything emotional or spiritual. With others, I would try the ‘scare’ method, telling them that if they continued to drink they would kill themselves. With still others, I would attempt the emotional appeal, working both the patient and myself into a lather. He might be moved to the point of shaking hands dramatically and telling me, with tears streaming down his face, that he was never going to take another drink. And I knew that the probability was he would be drunk again within two weeks or less.”

“Since I have been working with A.A. the comparative percentage of successful results has increased to an amazing extent.”

“The percentage of success that A.A. has scored leaves no doubt that it has something more than we as doctors can offer. It is, I am convinced, your second step. Once the A.A. alcoholic has grasped that, he will have no more “slips.”

Copyright © The A.A. Grapevine, Inc., June 1945


I have to agree with him on this..

the key principle which makes A.A. work where other plans have proved inadequate is the way of life it proposes based upon the belief of the individual in a Power greater than himself and the faith that this Power is all sufficient to destroy the obsession which possessed him and was destroying him mentally and physically.”

If I were to get away from that...I'm in trouble.
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby juliemahooley » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:27 pm

Yes, I have come to the conclusion that I "forgot" I was an alcoholic. The state of mind that preceded the drink was absolutely that of an alcoholic, but I didn't recognize it. It happened faster than I could have ever imagined and then I just kept going. I think I forgot the basics of step 1. Thank you for your responses.
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby Spirit Flower » Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:02 pm

Yes, I have come to the conclusion that I "forgot" I was an alcoholic. The state of mind that preceded the drink was absolutely that of an alcoholic, but I didn't recognize it. It happened faster than I could have ever imagined and then I just kept going. I think I forgot the basics of step 1. Thank you for your responses.


This is why I have a spiritual activity every day, keep working on steps, stay active in the program.
I hear your story alot.
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby ezdzit247 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:43 pm

juliemahooley wrote:I moved away from my sponsor and don't have one here, but I relapsed recently and while I communicate with my sponsor that I moved away from via phone and Skype, she does not believe that you should rework the steps. One time is enough. I just don't know what to think. I was sober for 2 years and 4 months and had a relapse that lasted around 3 months and I feel as if I need to start over, but she disagrees. I've always gone with what she says and am unsure of what to do at this point. Input?


Hi Julie and welcome back.

I had a sponsor when I first joined AA but struggled with trying to stay sober for almost 2 years after my first meeting. I just couldn't "get it". I finally did seem to "get it" after I moved to a different area, but after hearing a long time sober speaker share that she had worked the program using her home group as her sponsor, I decided to do the program that way as well. I used the BB, 12 & 12 for guidance, my home group for feed back, asked another female member to hear my 5th Step, and completed all 12 Steps within about 6 months. Life was wonderful until I hit a huge "pothole" on the Road of Happy Destiny and forgot to remember I was powerless over alcohol. I drank again, about 2 weeks before what would have been my 2nd AA birthday. I only drank for about 3-4 days before I got sober again and went back to meetings, but that experience was my wake-up call. After that drunk, I realized through much introspection, meditation and prayers for my HP's guidance that actual recovery, not just sobriety, means working the Steps and applying AA's principles in my daily affairs, one day at a time, for the rest of my life. In the years since that last drunk, I've hit many more "potholes", several much bigger than that first one, but I've never found it necessary to take another drink. I would suggest that you turn your confusion on this matter over to your HP and pray for guidance and direction. That's always worked real well for me. Glad you found this forum. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

Keep coming back....
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby tyg » Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:31 am

How are things going with getting to know the alcoholics at meetings in your new town and building relationships with them? Nothing replaces sitting down face to face and talking with other alcoholic about questions I have like these. Please pray & meditate to hear what your God is saying to do and then trust your intuition and do it. Either way, I don't see how starting over again and reworking the steps with another alcoholic could ever be a bad thing or not be beneficial.

Another good article is: The Missing Piece: Spiritual Malady by by Mike L., West Orange, NJ. Can google to read.
~The secret to the AA program is the first three words on page 112~
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby Noels » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:28 am

Hi Julie and welcome back :D personally I feel that no damage can be done by starting over. From step 1. I'm still a youngster in sobriety but have already realised that stepwork will be continuous and it can only be beneficial to us. By this I mean that each time I read the steps and big book again something new is revealed to me - a deeper understanding /side /aspect which I didn't see the previous time.
Apart from the personal revelations (and I'm now wandering into possible future ) it also makes sense to me that one day when I am a sponsor I will still be working the steps on a different basis with a sponsee but also still on a personal level to ensure my own continued growth.
I've already made up my mind that step 4 and 5 should be done at least once a year regardless of my sobriety term and even though I will be living steps 10, 11 and 12 on a daily basis. This will ensure that if I do accidentally 'miss ' something on daily inventory it will be caught in my yearly step 4 inventory. So that's my input.
He he he - the experience of bipolar disorder for 12 years served me well and taught me a very important lesson - because I couldn't trust my mind at times it taught me to use my feelings to determine real from not real. It also taught me to institute 'double check ' procedures. I am grateful for that experience and the lessons it brought with it
So good luck, jump right in and welcome back. Looking forward to hearing more from you.
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby Reborn » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:45 am

I guess my first question would be...did you work the first nine steps throughly and honestly? The second would be...did you continue(step 10) seek (step 11) and practice (step 12)? I believe that anyone who relapses either a) missed something in the first nine steps or b) let up on the spiritual program of action in 10,11 and 12. That being said I've had a few sponsees who relapsed and it really depends on the person (if they come back) where we start on the steps. In all cases I definitely take them back to the Big Book and have them read up to page 43...then we talk and discuss some of the key points to drive home the subtle insanity that proceeds the first drink. These answers come from within...sponsor or no sponsor we have to fully concede to our inner most selves that we are alcoholics. Then a read of We Agnostics to look at the belief in a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity...and then decide to turn your will and life over to that Power. If you are convinced of the three pertinent ideas...

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

Then you have to look at steps 4-9 and determine if/where you were not thorough and honest. As I said these answers have to come from within...be honest with yourself...your life depends on it.
We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. BB pg 132
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby juliemahooley » Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:20 am

Reborn wrote:I guess my first question would be...did you work the first nine steps throughly and honestly? The second would be...did you continue(step 10) seek (step 11) and practice (step 12)? I believe that anyone who relapses either a) missed something in the first nine steps or b) let up on the spiritual program of action in 10,11 and 12. That being said I've had a few sponsees who relapsed and it really depends on the person (if they come back) where we start on the steps. In all cases I definitely take them back to the Big Book and have them read up to page 43...then we talk and discuss some of the key points to drive home the subtle insanity that proceeds the first drink. These answers come from within...sponsor or no sponsor we have to fully concede to our inner most selves that we are alcoholics. Then a read of We Agnostics to look at the belief in a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity...and then decide to turn your will and life over to that Power. If you are convinced of the three pertinent ideas...

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

Then you have to look at steps 4-9 and determine if/where you were not thorough and honest. As I said these answers have to come from within...be honest with yourself...your life depends on it.


I feel like I did the first nine steps thoroughly and honestly, but I forgot step one along the way. I did not continue to do step 10, 11, and 12. I let up on the spriritual program of action for sure. Thank you for the input. It's very valuable. I'm still struggling a bit with finding someone to re-work the steps with since my original sponsor doesn't believe in reworking them. I guess it's time to pray that God show me what to do next.
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby Noels » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:29 am

Hi Julie why don't you just use the chat group for any questions, comments or advice and ask a member you can trust whom you meet at a meeting to hear step 5? That's what I've been doing and it's worked out great so far? You're not new to the program so try it and see if it works for you?
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby Patsy© » Sat May 14, 2016 4:57 pm

Its been my experience of paying close attention to those I sponsor, that if they pick up a drink, then they NEED to go back to Step One. If we do not have Step One, then we have nothing. How can we possibly have done any of the other Steps, if we do not have Step One in our heart, mind and soul....First.

If I had to rely on the first time I did the Steps, I am pretty sure that I would have drank....long time ago. I don't get it when I hear others sharing with newcomers that ONCE is enough, its the only time we need to do the Steps. When I first got to AA I was so confused and lost, that there is no way that one time going through the 12 Steps would have been enough for me. I was still remembering many old resentments a year later! lol

In the Twelve and Twelve on page 89, Bill says the following and it makes really good sense to this drunk.

Although all inventories are alike in principle, the time factor does distinguish one from another. There's the spot-check inventory, taken at any time of the day, whenever we find ourselves getting tangled up. There's the one we take at day's end, when we review the happenings of the hours just past. Here we cast up a balance sheet, crediting ourselves with things well done, and chalking up debits where due. Then there are those occasions when alone, or in the company of our sponsor or spiritual adviser, we make a careful review of our progress since the last time. Many A.A.'s go in for annual or semiannual house cleanings. Many of us also like the experience of an occasional retreat from the outside world where we can quiet down for an undisturbed day or so of self-overhaul and meditation.
Failed 12 Step Call? Not if we walk away sober!
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby Brock » Sun May 15, 2016 3:51 am

I think if someone relapsed as in this case, redoing the steps or at least as you have said, having a very good look at #1, is a good idea, the original poster said her sponsor does not believe in redoing them, so opinions do vary.

Some of us are concerned about putting new people off when this is mentioned in meetings, as the book says 'at some of these we balked,' and from my own experience and listening to others, it was 4 & 5 we were most afraid of. Then if someone speaks of redoing these, especially if they say every year, well they might more than 'balk,' they might bolt.

Here is a section of the book 'Drop the Rock,' which deals with steps 6 & 7 -
We went back to our sponsor and said that perhaps we needed to do another Fourth and Fifth Step. We were feeling and acting very similar to ways we used to feel and act. What should we do? Or, perhaps after years in the Program, things seemed to just have gone flat. There doesn’t seem to be the same old spark, and the meetings just aren’t as interesting as they once were. We’ve drifted into a numb place where there seems to be little growth and little reason to change. Can we explain why we aren’t entirely ready? Why can’t we humbly ask? What’s in our way? If our sponsor is a good one, perhaps he or she responds that maybe it isn’t the Fourth or Fifth Step that needs repeating, but that it is time to take a real look at the Sixth and Seventh.

The topic of redoing 4 & 5 attracted lively discussion in July of last year, and can be found here - http://www.e-aa.org/forum/viewtopic.php ... 20&start=0
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Re: I relapsed....do I rework the steps?

Postby K225 » Sun May 15, 2016 8:17 pm

As someone who has relapsed way too many freaking times, I would suggest starting over like you say. Probably won't take you as long as it did the first time since you now have the experience. I relapsed recently and I plan to read the big book from page to page again even though I already did.
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