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12 STEPS

The first of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12 Steps begins: “I admit that I am powerless over…” In the case of the AA tradition, the next word would be “alcohol.” But in today’s society, the manifestations of addiction can include just about anything used as a coping mechanism, crutch or activity, often innocently referred to as a “diversion.”

Drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, gambling, sports, Internet technology, fitness, gaming, food … the list goes on and on. Regardless of the “Poison of Choice” (PoC), addiction is addiction. That which causes us to reach for whatever provides an escape from things we don’t want to confront, deal with or resolve is the seed that usually blossoms into some form of addiction. The more escape/pleasure the chosen PoC provides, the more deeply entrenched we may become. Ultimately, our focus shifts totally to the diversion as opposed to addressing the thing we are trying to avoid. That’s when things can go downhill rather quickly.

One position that may challenge some people’s view of addiction, addictive disorders and recovery is the refusal to refer to addiction as a disease. The symptom presentation that manifests after long-term engagement in addictive behavior is what is usually interpreted as disease. However, the symptoms are simply the branches of a deeply established root.

Addiction should be viewed as an imbalance. In embracing the concept of an imbalance, individuals are acknowledging that a state of balance exists and that they are currently out of alignment with that balance. Until that acknowledgement happens, no changes can be instituted effectively (Step 1 of the 12 Steps).

Inherent in the word disease is the ability/permission to adopt the role of victim. “I can’t help it, I have a disease,” we often hear. As anyone familiar with addiction will tell you, the only salvation is in taking personal responsibility for every aspect of your life.

So how do we return to this state of balance once we embrace and accept our personal imbalance? Just as we reach out for something to hold on to when we lose our balance, we need to reconnect with our center.

Upper always influences lower: how we view our world is ultimately the world we view. Watching someone’s body language will give us a pretty good idea of how they are reacting and responding to their perception and interpretation of the world around them. The more sensitive the ego, the more likely the person will assume the role of victim. Everything seems to happen “to them,” as they are at the mercy of the external world. Job, relationships, friends and other life situations or interactions often do nothing but confirm the victim mindset giving the person “permission” to engage in escapist activities. There are many other factors to take into consideration, but addiction is, in my opinion, directly related to ego-health.

In working with addiction, the addictive mindset and recovery, it is important to focus on reconnecting a person with themselves. Allowing the higher self to view the dysfunctional self is the first step on the path to recovering balance. Recovery can be thought of as recovering a loss of balance rather than recovering from something. We return to health by realigning with our homeostasis—the knowledge inherent to the organism of how to maintain optimal health. Change our landscape and the pathology, whatever it may be, cannot exist there.

Combining the 12 Step philosophy of AA with the Chinese spiritual, medical and philosophical tradition, provides viable and valuable tools with which a person can reestablish a lost balance, if they so choose. Working on all three levels of our existence—body, mind and spirit—is the only way to effectively return to balance. All three must be addressed. Individuals may seek guides along the path, but the work needs to be done and can only be done by the individual.

Mark R. Reinhart will be teaching his Three Rivers/12 Steps: Qigong for Recovery on Sunday December 3 at Three Pure Rivers Studio for the Arts, in Drums. For details, call 484-591-8007 or email cyklopps@rcn.com and call 570.359.3059 or email ThreePureRiverssfa@ptd.net.

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