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BEATING ADDICTION by Claude Mills Featured

Archive Written by  Claude Mills Wednesday, 15 February 2012 09:31 font size decrease font size increase font size 0
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MORGAN IS a drug addict. He says that he has now enjoyed almost three years of clean time as a member of one of the 12-step groups that meet daily at Sts. Peter and Paul church compound at 120 Old Hope Road in Kingston.



Morgan says that there are "good days and bad days, but if you try real hard, and the good days outnumber the bad ones...then you are on the road to recovery."

"It is not everything about the programme I agree with but Narcotics Anonymous (NA) taught me to live. It took me almost eight months to complete step 4, but I did it. They say that I must avoid people, place and things that remind you of drug abuse, but I live in Rose Town (a Kingston inner-city community), and I have nowhere to go. I just use what I can out of the programme because if I am not in NA, I will die," he said.

This sort of siege mentality was obvious in the tone and tenor of one of the last week's meetings on Old Hope Road. These addicts cling to each other on the ocean of life while the breakers and waves of substance abuse batter them. They dare not let go.


"With the 12 steps, you're never cured, drug use is a thing in the mind, and there is always the possibility of falling back, you just have to keep aware of how tenuous your daily situation really is, or it's easy to fall back," said Errol who has been drug-free for the last seven years.

"At one point, I went to Narcotics Anonymous seven days a week for four years straight because I understood that if I didn't go, I would end up there was a great deal of urgency to my actions. It helped me to get in touch with a part of myself, my spirituality, that I had been running from all my life...I stopped denying a true part of myself, and I took it one day at a time."

"Right now, my whole development is more exciting to me than drug abuse. That was not always the case, but I have just kept growing, and everyday is more exciting to me because I can develop myself constantly," he said.


A ONE876reporter visited a 12-step meeting last week to get a first-hand view of how the meetings operate.

The meeting started promptly at 7:00 p.m. with a small group. During the next couple of minutes, people from all sorts of various socio-economic backgrounds began to drift in. Some members drift to the front, while some drifted to the sides and the back. A number of them were smoking.

The meeting began with the recitation of the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

After that, a few members read from literature on hand regarding the methodology of the programme. One man made a confession ­ prefaced by the comment, "My name is David, I am a recovering addict..." ­ to his personal struggles with the mother of his child. When he stopped, the members said in one voice 'thanks for sharing'.

Interestingly, there was a burning desire segment during which a woman ­ who confessed to being imprisoned for eight years ­ contributed the story of her heated and ongoing housing battle with her father.

"He thinks that I am a crackhead... but it is my money that helped to get that house, and I'd rather burn it down than allow him to live in it while I have to kotch all over the place with friends because he doesn't want anything to do with a coke head," she said.

This comment seemed to strike a chord with others who began to share their stories of personal torments and eventual triumph.

"Before NA, I was 10 feet tall and #$%@ bullet-proof. Nobody could talk to me, I would run you down with a machete, or hit you with a beer bottle if you did," said one recovering addict. Now, I turn over all my problems with "earth people' to professionals. If I have a legal problem, I get a lawyer, if I have a dental problem, I get a dentist, I don't get a pair of pliers and use a substance to kill the pain," he added to warm laughter and nods of agreement from other NA members.

At times, the progress of the meeting was somewhat strained, and a number of members kept watching the reporter, 'anxious about sharing their story with someone who they did not know'. Finally, I was asked to share my story.

I told them about smoking weed at the age of 14 and that I had a friend ­ a fellow weed-smoker ­ who was schizophrenic.

After this, the other members seemed to loosen up in sharing their stories. Words and phrases like 'clean time' and 'serenity' were bandied about. One man shared his story about the obsessions that seemed to dominate his life.

"With me, it is not about substances, but about attitudes and behaviour...I remember at age 8 hoarding candy, and I remember how one time, I became obsessed about ants and set my whole lawn on fire, the whole lawn, just to get at the ants," he said.

Laughter greeted this remark, but it triggered another round of sharing.

While confession plays a major role in 12 step programmes, karma and spirituality are important. One light-skinned man kept closing his eyes, resting his head back while his arms neatly folded on his chest, he seemed to break into deep periods of silent meditation at varying times of the meeting.

The meeting ended at about 8:00 with the members gathering in a circle and holding hands while reciting "God grant me the serenity...".

One woman looked at me, handed me a pamphlet ­ for "first-timers" ­ and implored and me come again, this will change your life.

How it works

Rules of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

The rules of AA (the original 12-step programme) govern all 12-step programmes ­ Narcotics Anonymous (NA); Gamblers Anonymous (GA); Cocaine Anonymous (CA); Overeaters Anonymous (OA). In meetings and discussions, the words AA are simply changed to NA or OA, for example, to reflect the nature of the addiction.


1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ­ that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to all alcoholics, and to practise these principles in all our affairs.



Read 2977 times Last modified on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 12:39

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