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Stage II Recovery: Life Beyond Addiction

I rely my emotional sobriety from the time I turned involved with Earnie’s message.
Mary L, a member of AA

By life-j

Here’s the guide we’ve all been ready for. Or quite, it’s been waiting for us.

It was revealed in 1985. I don’t know the way it might have gone so unnoticed all these years. I first read it about 15 years ago, and simply pulled it down off the shelf and re-read it this last week. It’s a mere hundred pages of practical recovery advice. It makes use of most of the greatest parts of 12 step restoration, however with no nonsense, no faith, not even any twelves. It’s not even “a program” per se; it simply has numerous good recommendation on how a person can put collectively a very good program of action for themselves.

Stage II recovery is once we’ve sobered up and gotten a bit secure not consuming, and the actual work begins.

The writer, Earnie Larsen, was a therapist (died 2011) and appears to have had some affiliation with 12 step recovery. He doesn’t put it down, but he type of ignores it, and just lays out a a lot easier bunch of restoration tools. And he does it virtually utterly with none larger power speak, though he does promote prayer and meditation briefly – both principally as a non-religious contemplation follow.

He doesn’t speak about “character defects”. As an alternative he calls our problems “habits”, not even dangerous habits, just habits, and acknowledges that some habits may be useful, but most cause us hassle. So right here already, there isn’t a judgment, no defects, no shortcomings, no moralizing, that must be resolved by a deity. There are simply habits that don’t serve us. He calls every thing habits, even concepts like insecurity, it’s all habits we need to change. It’s a bit like a “comfort zone”: one thing which we now have gotten ourselves used to and which in some instances could be fairly snug due to its familiarity, however for probably the most half the habits only depart us stuck in dysfunctional patterns and relationships.

To access the ebook on Amazon click on the above picture.

This is simply a ebook with restoration advice, barely totally different than others in its strategy, however anyone who isn’t stuck on following a selected program to the letter can profit from this. Most definitely AA members, as a result of many parts are just like the 12 step program.

It’s simply laid out much easier.

Most of all, recovery is about change, and he stresses that our program needs to be one among action. If we don’t change our habits, our life, we won’t get much benefit from not consuming. We know this, in fact, but a lot AA recovery gets lost in the labyrinths of finding a god to show the entire mess over to as an alternative of specializing in doing one thing about it.

So Earnie begins out by defining Stage I recovery: Sustained abstinence. And that’s so far as many people get, and principally because they don’t have a clear enough program of action. So he starts with the next statement which is sweet for staying out of arguments inside 12 Step fellowships:

Let me additionally hasten to emphasize that Stage II is just not for individuals who assume they’ve “outgrown” the Twelve Steps. It isn’t attainable to outgrow the Twelve Steps. The religious knowledge embodied in the Twelve Steps is infinite. However as the program teaches, the steps can solely take us as far as we permit them to take us. And, as in so many areas of our lives, we are often only prepared to go thus far. Beyond that we are likely to float, in impact settling for “where we are”, because we don’t have the imaginative and prescient, or the desire, or the know-how to do any higher.

[Stage II Recovery, p. 7, author’s emphases and quotation marks]

And while I might perhaps assert that many of us are more likely to outgrow many points of the 12 steps, general his level is properly taken: most of us solely get up to now. So from right here on he lays out quite a lot of drawback areas and sensible ideas for action.

Chapter 1: RECOVERY IS THE GOAL. First a couple of pages warning about switching addictions, then a bit of defining recovery. We need to –  each certainly one of us – define what recovery means. It should kind of imply the same factor to all of us anyway – broadly speaking, dealing with our issues – but we every have to define what it will require from us. We have to outline our own particular drawback areas, and what the answer might seem like.

A whole lot of our drawback is in our relationships. Not that a lone drunk gained’t have issues, however these might be immediately associated to his consuming. It is typically in our relationships with different folks that our issues with actual restoration actually play out.

Chapter 2 is about SELF-DEFEATING LEARNED BEHAVIORS. He lists the most typical problematic character traits: caretakers, individuals pleasers, martyrs, workaholics, perfectionists, faucet dancers. Personally I can relate to all these categories, and all of the more since they appear a bit under-represented in normal AA literature, nevertheless it may need been good to include a few others reminiscent of bullies and the aggressive and actively controlling varieties.

So he goes over these with many descriptions to encourage the readers to take a better and more trustworthy take a look at themselves.

Chapter 3, HABITS. He goes into how these traits play out in the type of dangerous habits: “Who’s driving the Bus?” We stay our lives out of habits, most issues we do usually are not based mostly on informed rational selections, but on habits, acquired patterns of action which at one time might have served us, however not do.

“Habits defend reality” – a minimum of the truth we see, “our” actuality, not necessarily “the” actuality. They defend our unserviceable outlooks on life, encourage us to seek the consolation of the acquainted, and the familiar will all the time be more snug than the unfamiliar. If we’re going to change we might be operating primarily in unfamiliar territory, and that’s the reason restoration is uncomfortable, and why we so easily attempt to avoid rising. We’ll take a nasty, acquainted state of affairs over a greater, unfamiliar one, because shifting to the better one will saddle us with all method of discomfort, until we discover ways to handle the new one. That takes apply, and publicity, plenty of each, typically a seemingly insurmountable amount of both, but there isn’t a approach round it.

Chapter 4, CHANGE, lists many examples, and issues. Our unmanageable relationships. Religious actuality – he explains that we often already know rationally that change is needed, but that rationality not often suffices, or even helps a damn bit, till we attain an inside understanding which often isn’t arrived at rationally, however more somewhat experientially, which is a reasonably good right down to earth definition of spirituality.  Modifications vs Change: modifications suggest that we are numbering them, and limiting them, whereas change is just one thing, every little thing. Altering others (doesn’t work). Enabling. Techniques. And extra.

Chapter 5 is all about WORKING A PROGRAM. Right here he begins outlining how one can put collectively a program that works for you and offers with your personal specific points (and should I add, not simply the handful of problems Invoice W. outlined for himself on behalf of everybody else). A program needs to be concrete, sensible, targeted, and constant. And so he goes into defining that.

Crucial thing about having a program is that it provides you something to do, a course of action. This is a part of why the 12 steps do work – they provide you one thing to do. They will not be one of the best, they could not all the time put you to work on the stuff that the majority wants work, however they’re an entire lot better than a program of non-action which states that you simply simply have to cease consuming and all will probably be properly. We need to change our entire life, and we’d like a program that may give us a plan of action to try this. To assist with the design of our personal program, he provides us a guidelines, and explains how each part of it works. It’s good and practical.

Chapter 6 is about RELATIONSHIPS, and eventually Chapter 7, SUCCESS, the place, fairly than lengthy individual tales like in the Huge Ebook and lots of different self-help books, he just has a half dozen pages of excellent restoration quotes/affirmations. Let me decide a pair to wrap it up:

Although it’s not straightforward, I feel new internal power as I take control over my life. I’ve made some drastic modifications, and it’s a marvel that I’m not an emotional wreck, however I’m not.

I don’t let different individuals determine my moods anymore. Better of all, I don’t really feel responsible about it.

I’ve been sober so lengthy myself that statements like these hardly appear all that profound anymore, but I vaguely keep in mind how a lot it as soon as mattered to me to listen to stuff like this stated out loud. There’s all the time a liability in letting an old-timer evaluate a ebook principally meant for relative newcomers.

Believing in Myself

Earnie Larsen seems to principally tackle individuals whose main initial character attribute runs towards low self-worth slightly than an inflated ego. As such it goes alongside nicely with my own current article, Fix Broken Self Esteem with Ego Deflation, Huh?, posted on AA Beyond Belief.

So in fact I like this ebook. I consider his understanding and rationalization of Stage II may also help nearly all of us in recovery.

Finally let me also briefly point out one other e-book of his without going into a evaluate of it right here – the day by day reader, Believing in Myself, which he co-wrote with Carol Hegarty. It has been considered one of my favorites for a couple of years now. There’s virtually no god stuff in there, and a lot of the entries are about empowerment, having the courage to reside our lives extra absolutely.


Collected AA Articleslife-j obtained sober in Oakland in 1988. He moved to a Northern California coastal mountain village in 2002 and helped wake up the sleepy AA fellowship there.

He has written numerous articles posted on each AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief. You possibly can learn and/or obtain his guide as a PDF right right here: Collected Revealed AA Stories.