Most of us are addicts, in one way or another. Statistics prove it.
The 12 Step approach of Alcoholics Anonymous (and now many sister fellowships) works for addicts and non-addicts alike, though it seems in this country hard to find someone who lives totally free of addictions. Think about it – we automatically categorize drugs and alcohol as the traditional problems, but what about cigarettes? What about food?
The Center for Disease Control reported in 2013 that 35.7% of adults in the United States are obese – not just overweight, but obese – meaning that, barring professional football players, one-third of all US adults are in the 200+ pound range. You might argue that the fault is in our fast food diet, and that is a factor, but the greater factor is overeating and addictive eating.
Furthermore, if we want to talk hard core addiction, we should talk about smoking. In 2011, the CDC reported that an estimated 19% of US adults were smokers and that 440,000 Americans die each year from smoking and second-hand exposure. As the report says, “Tobacco use remains the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States” (cdc.gov/tobacco).
If those two categories are not convincing, let me propose that control and worry present and torture even greater populations of addicts, and we see them in offices, classrooms, and homes everywhere – people who insist that things be just so, that plans are just right, that Christmas is at this house and this is what is on the menu. Do you have in-laws? Then you know. Gambling. Sex. Relationships. Are you familiar with the serial dater who is constantly breaking up and getting back together with that good-for-nothing loser or the person who cannot get past six months in any relationship?
And worry – the best and the worst and totally a choice until it isn’t because we are hooked on our own cortisol and adrenaline.
The 12 Steps are about admitting that I keep going to the wrong coping mechanisms to deal with problems I cannot solve, like the television distraction, romance novels, food, partying, unhealthy friends and romantic interests, medical professionals who don’t seem to help – anything.
Addiction is about avoidance, and those of us who turn to meaningless diversions have things we do not want to deal with. Our bills are still sealed in their envelopes, phone calls are unreturned, assignments and projects have been replaced with video games.
The 12 Steps are about recovering from an addiction to trying to run my own life, on my own wisdom. My priorities and my decisions are determined through my personal periscope on life, meaning that I have limited range of vision. I never have all the information or a broad enough perspective to make the best decisions. I do the best with what I have, but my best is not THE best. Recovery means depending on God. Don’t get scared – God is too big for our personal conceptions to dictate what yours should be. 12 Steppers call it a Higher Power, and the only prerequisite for belief is that you yourself are not the highest power there is in this universe.