Asking for Help in Addiction Recovery
In 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, each of the 12 steps contains words such as “we,” “us” and “ourselves.” These words help to remind each individual in the program that recovery is not a solo journey and that together we can do what none of us can do alone.
In order to successfully recover from drugs or alcohol, it’s important to let others know when you need help. For many people, especially newcomers, this isn’t an easy thing to do. You may want to put on a brave front and appear to have your act together all the time. You may not want to admit you are struggling. But you will quickly get into trouble if you don’t learn to ask for help.
Pride Can Block True Recovery
Pride can be a huge roadblock to recovery. You want to feel good about yourself and you want others to look up to you and admire how well you are handling your problems and your sobriety.
But pretending to have your act together when you don’t is asking for trouble. Learning how to live sober is the same as learning any other new skill. You weren’t born knowing how to drive a car, for instance. You had to let someone show you. In sobriety, you have to let someone show you how to cope with challenging situations and how to deal with emotional turbulence and cravings for your drug of choice. When pride stands in the way, you don’t let yourself learn what you need to know as problems and challenges come up. The only person you are hurting with this behavior is yourself.
Overcoming the Fear of Reaching Out
It’s hard to reach out to others and admit you need help. Often the problem is fear. You may be afraid of rejection or afraid to admit you can’t handle everything alone. You may be afraid of being judged for past behavior or things you’re thinking or feeling now. How can you get past the fear of asking for help?
When you recognize that addiction is a life or death problem that isn’t going to go away, you may experience the gift of desperation. Solving the problem of learning to live sober isn’t optional, it’s imperative.
Fear can be thought of as False Evidence Appearing Real. In many cases, what you’re afraid of is unrealistic. For example, if you ask someone at a meeting for a phone number, what is the worst that can happen? It’s possible that that particular individual isn’t willing to give you his or her number, but if that happens, it’s not the end of the world. There are other people whom you haven’t approached yet, and many of them will say yes if asked. Maybe you’re afraid that if you ask someone to be your sponsor, that person will try to dictate how you live your life. You always have the option of changing sponsors if the one you choose doesn’t seem to fit.
Getting Into the Habit of Asking for Help
When you have the willingness to do whatever it takes to get sober and stay sober, you understand the importance of getting into the habit of asking for help. A habit is a recurring pattern of behavior that becomes unconscious through frequent repetition. The more you ask for help, the easier it will get.
Start by simply asking for at least one phone number at every meeting you attend. Make the effort to participate in discussion meetings and support groups, and share with others what you’re thinking and feeling. Pick up the phone and call someone every day. Ask new friends in recovery to go out for coffee.
Like riding a bike, asking for help will feel difficult or impossible at first, but pretty soon you’ll realize that you can do it. Don’t give up if you experience disappointing results at first. Other people in support groups are human too and may not be able to be there for you, but just because one person lets you down doesn’t mean everyone will.
Ask for help. Trust that you’ll get it. You are not alone.