There will be times when we are faced with something so terrifying, so painful, and so devastating, that neither ourselves, the Fellowship, nor our sponsors are able to help us overcome this even. This is where the importance of a Higher Power becomes most evident. The doorknob, the ocean, the light bulb—none of these spiritual place-holders will have the power to help you over the obstacle. In the earliest stages of my recovery, my Orange County drug rehab center was my Higher Power, if only for the purpose that they were in control. These may work as starting points to establishing a relationship with a Higher Power, but they are only starting points. The book Alcoholics Anonymous says that, “we must continue to be willing to grow along spiritual lines.” When we stagnate in this area, suddenly life seems to get much more difficult and much more dismal. To which sentiment the Big Book suggests, “Wasn’t it because self-reliance failed us?”
Indeed, it is. Human power will only take us so far. In some cases, that can be remarkably far. But ultimately it is never far enough. Alcoholics and addicts are an ambitious bunch. No one can argue that the one thing we do better than any other group is to push limits and boundaries of any type. Orange County drug and alcohol Treatment programs, and programs all over the world, for that matter, have seen the truth in this time and time again. It is exactly this trait that makes a relationship with a Higher Power such a necessary tool. If we can’t overcome these setbacks in our battles against drug and alcohol addiction, then who can?
If I had instead turned to the bottle or the needle to get me through, I would have extended that feeling until I was either in the ground or fortunate enough to find myself at the beginning of the road of recovery yet again, in yet another Orange County detoxification program, more broken and battered than the time before. If you knew me when I was drinking and using, this whole train-of-thought would be less believable than if I were to tell you that a comet were to land in your backyard in the next twenty seconds. To say that I was hostile to the idea of a Higher Power would be a gross understatement. But eventually, both at times when I was active in my disease and in my recovery, I faced such horrifying pain that I actually didn’t believe people could hurt so badly. To endure spiritual and emotional pain to the point where it physically wracks your body is a life-changing event. There was no way I was getting out of it on my own accord and at that time did not think I would see the face of god in the middle of a San Clemente Rehab Center. But, every time I faced it and I turned it over to my Higher Power, somehow I ended up not only on the other side and not in pain, but I was much further ahead than I was prior to the setback, and I was even happy (gasp!).
If we stay clean and sober, we continue to have the opportunity to navigate our way back onto the path of recovery. Acquiescing to our disease only places more setbacks in front of us. For those that are truly blessed, this means that we will find ourselves in yet another California drug rehab. For those who are not so lucky, it means death and institutions. We will all face setbacks at one point or another in recovery, but it is how we deal with them that makes the difference between working a good program or not, and in the end whether or not we see long-term recovery.