There are always going to be haters, and addiction recovery is no different. For reasons still yet to be understood, there are some who look down upon AA, NA, or any of the other numerous Twelve Step programs out there. Only they really know the reasons behind this animosity, but from what we have seen, it generally comes down to a handful of issues.
Addiction Recovery: “Contempt Prior to Investigation”
The Twelve Steps have been introduced to the world at large through innumerable means. Considering that, it is not surprising that not every single introduction has been favorable. Really, there are just fewer than 314 million people in this country alone. Statistically, someone’s brother’s friend’s uncle’s dog-sitter’s boyfriend’s boss’s golf buddy was bound to not find lasting sobriety and clean time for any number of reasons.
Yet, in all likelihood, we really don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. Part of the reason we have the 11th Tradition is that, if we go out for whatever reason, it doesn’t give addicts and alcoholics the impression that “Famous Person X was unable to get clean and sober, so what chance do I have?”
Of course, this isn’t restricted solely to famous people. We hear one thing from a source that may or may not be credible, which is based on one little anecdote, and we form an opinion. That opinion then either keeps our minds open, or slams the door shut.
Without giving it an honest try, though, we are done before we even start.
“Principles Before Personalities”
Addicts and alcoholics are a colorful bunch, to be sure. Unfortunately, one person’s charisma is another person’s irritant. With such a diverse crowd of people, we are bound to butt heads with someone sooner or later.
When that actually does happen, though, some people write off all of the addiction recovery community instead of the one individual. Again, the 11th Tradition is applicable. If one person hears that someone they don’t like is going to AA/NA, they might use that as justification for avoiding AA/NA altogether. The real tragedy of this is when the AA or NA member transforms his or her life and the other person stays out over something as trivial as liking or not liking someone for whatever reason.
“The Whole ‘God’ Thing”
We get it. The word God, the notions of a Higher Power, a Spirit of the Universe…some people don’t want to hear it. They hear it mentioned and go running for the hills.
What few of these people—and few in recovery as well—acknowledge is that “Higher Power” and “God” are not always synonymous. Many of us have thrown out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak, when the issue of spiritual matters comes about, but really, we just need to be open to the idea there might be something more powerful than us.
You don’t have to like whatever it is, you don’t have to fear it, you don’t have to do anything with it beyond acknowledging that something out there is greater than you and can impact your life. That simple admission is all that is needed to start that journey towards a better life.