August 2010


Dear Change Matters

I recently was advised by a close friend to enter into a 12 Step Programme. Yes, there is a history of addiction in my family of origin but I have never had any problems with substance abuse. When I asked why this advise I was told that I come across as if I am ‘walking on eggshells’ and as a result am always trying to control what is happening around me. Yes, I know I try to control things and it has sometimes backfires on me with disastrous results, at times, but I can fix it, so why the recommendation?

Yours sincerely


Dear Confused,

Addiction is not only about substance abuse. Although the 12 Step Programme originated from alcoholics getting together as a last desperate measure to address their addiction because all other attempts had failed, the programme itself addresses issues that other treatments do not.

One of the major differences is the concept of ‘powerlessness’ – we cannot fight our addiction head on by ourselves anymore. Part of changing what we do is to recognise and reach out to get the support we need to change our obsessive compulsive thinking and behaviours that are making our lives a ‘living hell’ in the first place.

Somehow we need to admit what this ‘living hell’ is all about – name it and come to the realisation that we can’t do this anymore if we are going to live an authentic life.

Try to picture yourself as a single sailor with no map and no crew about to push off from dry land in a leaky boat. Your present condition is like holes in a boat. Every time you get pushed off into life’s waters you start to leak and threaten to sink.

So before you can continue on your journey you need to take stock. Find out where the leaks are and get them fixed. You also need the map so that you can cross the waters without ramming yourself up against the hidden reefs lurking beneath.

What the 12 Step Programme does is that it supplies you a map to guide you through the tricky waters and the tools to fix your leaks. It doesn’t matter what type of leaks you may have or how big your holes are. In other words it doesn’t matter whether your condition is substance abuse or not or how unmanageable your life has become as it will provide you the support you need to become ‘sea-worthy’ and directions for a safe journey. An added bonus is the help you will receive from fellow sailors who are also working on their ‘boats’ or who have made the ‘crossing’ and know the waters.

So the first step is to admit that you cannot sail right now, that you need directions and tools to fix your boat. It is amazing what can happen when we do this.

Yours truly,

Fellow Sailor