An unlikely parallel in addiction recovery happened earlier this week when two Mexican teens were released from prison after 10 months for buying a truck with a hidden payload of cocaine.
Here is the kicker: the van was purchased from a U.S. Customs auction, and authorities knew it was used in cocaine smuggling. The U.S. formally acknowledged that they may have missed the kilogram of coke hiding under the dashboard. The judge dropped the charges, stating that, under the circumstances, it was plausible the boys could have purchased the van without knowing there was cocaine in the vehicle.
The thing is, this is not the only time something like this has happened. Back in 2002, a similar situation arose in which 22 packages of marijuana were discovered in a nearly identical situation, with a nearly identical outcome (the convictions were both overturned once the errors had been discovered).
In this most recent case, the families are all too happy just to have their loved ones free and returned. They say they had not even considered filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government for the oversight that cost the teens nearly a year of their lives.
It also begs the question: how often does this actually happen, and how many more automobiles are out on the road with unknown drugs in them? How does that happen? We see dogs on the boarder inspecting travelers; do those same drug dogs not inspect cars that are going on the auction block?
We see the ravages of addiction and alcoholism destroying lives every day. Illicit drugs are illegal for a reason. We do not believe that those drugs should be readily available on the streets, but we also believe in taking personal responsibility, regardless of how many times it happens. In this case, it is not only personal responsibility, but professional as well.
It is a lesson that every addict and alcoholic going through The Steps encounters. Mistakes are made, and nothing can truly be done to fully rectify the error. However, by owning up to the error, we limit the amount of pain and suffering that results from our actions. Sometimes the best we can do is acknowledge that we made a mistake, and undo what damage we can.
At the same time, what if the government (or ourselves as addicts and alcoholics) never own up to the mistakes that we made? Sure, the government can get away with a, “Sorry, my bad,” but addicts and alcoholics cannot. If we make a mistake, quite often and after review with our sponsors, we have to go back and fix it no matter how many times we made that same mistake. It sucks, and no one wants to do it, but in the end, it is better for not only ourselves, but everyone involved. Besides, even in the rare event things do not go according to plan, one-sided forgiveness is better than none.
In addiction recovery, it is our job to do the footwork, and God’s job to handle the results.