Statement One: the Key to Sobriety
Statement One provides the core belief that will enable us to move into the maintenance, or recovery, phase of sobriety. “I have a life-threatening problem that once had me. I now take charge of my life and my disease. I accept the responsibility”. The key to this statement are the words “once had me”. If we are to succeed, we must internalize these words and make them a part of our daily self talk.
“I HAVE A LIFE-THREATENING PROBLEM.”
Most often, it is not as easy as this. People with addictions are characterized with rigid thinking, making it difficult to internalize change; it can, however, be done. What is required is for the knowledge of the danger to outweigh any habitual pattern of thought. This is one of the jobs of the addictions counselor, but can be accomplished by the individual themselves.
Once we have absorbed the knowledge that alcohol is poisonous and deadly, we begin a sometimes subconscious change in our thinking. Alcohol is no longer our friend; instead, it is a foreign substance bent on our destruction. It is this identification which gives rise to the imp, for unless we viewed drinking as a threat, there would be no conflict in the urge to drink. In this way, the imp can be viewed as a sign of forward progress. When it begins to arise, we have internalized the knowledge that we have a life-threatening problem. We have moved into the action stage where positive steps for controlling our addiction can be taken.
“THAT ONCE HAD ME.”
It is important to understand that in the early action phase, multiple attempts may be required for sobriety to “stick”. This doesn’t mean that statement one is not true until you have achieved lasting abstinence. Rather, it can be construed to mean a determination to overcome the addictive voice. Each failure can teach us something about ourselves and our triggers, and it is sometimes required that we make these missteps in order to fully embrace our desire for recovery.
The only failure in life is not to try. There are very few things worth having that can be accomplished without multiple attempts. These are learning experiences if we allow them to be. They must be if we wish to ultimately live an abstinent life. It is important to understand that how we react to failure has a great impact on our future success. If we denigrate our efforts and ourselves, we make it harder to succeed in our next attempt.
If instead we look for the positives in our actions, such as being able to ascertain our reasons for drinking and what thought processes led to it, we improve the likelihood of success the next time we are confronted with the urge to drink. As long as we learn from our experiences, addiction is a ‘once had’.
“I NOW TAKE CHARGE OF MY LIFE AND MY DISEASE.”
The important thing here is that we must learn from our mistakes. If we fail to do this then we are merely active drinkers with periods of sobriety, not women seeking recovery. The first is merely going through the motions, and most likely will not succeed in long-term abstinence. The second takes error and from it creates solution.
There is a delicate balance between accepting a failure in sobriety as a learning experience and justifying continued drinking. We are the only ones who can make that distinction with accuracy. When we’re seeking support from others, we must demonstrate our commitment through expressions of what we have learned and rededication to sobriety. If we do not do this, we risk isolating ourselves from those who truly are taking charge of their disease and thus losing a valuable resource in our effort to gain a lasting recovery.
“I ACCEPT THE RESPONSIBILITY.”
Accepting responsibility is in itself a sign of growth. In our active addiction we avoided responsibility for the use of alcohol. Our addictions were externally created and fueled; we told ourselves this in order to maintain our sense of the status quo. It is when we accept that we alone are responsible for ourselves and our disease that we move from a place where recovery is only theoretically possible to a place where it is real and ongoing.
Finally, the statement as a whole underpins the entire WFS program. Without embracing it, there is little purpose in participating in the group. This is not to say that we should not participate until we have internalized the statement into our core belief system; rather, we must accept it as a truth to be sought. This interpretation applies particularly for those in the preparation stage of change, those who recognize the need for abstinence but do not yet have a concrete plan for achieving it.
I have a life-threatening problem that once had me. I give myself permission to take control of my addiction and to create a plan that will lead me into recovery. I accept that I, and I alone, am responsible for my sobriety and empower myself to utilize all the tools available to me in seeking and maintaining a lasting abstinence.
Women for Sobriety is a powerful tool in our pursuit of recovery. We must be willing to open ourselves to the words of Jean Kirkpatrick and to the support of other women following the same path. We must embrace statement one and accept the awesome power that taking responsibility gives to us. It is when we do so that we truly begin the journey to recovery.