Getting Started in Step Work (12-Step Program) | Noah Bergland

life in prison, inmates making the best out of a tough situation, taking pictures and having a good time while incarcerated, see no evil, say no evil, see no evil | Noah Bergland, Dennis Cockerham, Michael Gardipee | Resilience2Reform

The disease of addiction means to me, the inability to stop using…the overpowering desire to use…denial, rationalization, justification, guilt, embarrassment, and isolation. These were all the things I was experiencing when my disease was in control.

As for the emotions I would experience, many times, contradicting ones at the same time. I knew I needed to stop when I was at my lowest point, physically and emotionally, I was a mess. I was ashamed of who I had become and isolated from my family because of it. But I continued by justifying my actions about why I had to keep drugs around: “It’s how I make money, I need to survive and pay the rent somehow, and if they, the drugs, are around, I have to use them.”

I wasn’t able to ask for help until everything was gone, Dacotah, Melrose, apartment, car, job, even couches to sleep on. I was sleeping in my car, one that I hadn’t made a payment on in months, and could be repossessed at any time. I finally met rock-bottom.

The disease of addiction is so cunning you just sit there and watch it all happen, powerless. It’s the master manipulator that will never meet its match, it will use you until there is nothing left to use and then it will lay dormant, just waiting for you to gain something worth taking, and then it will reappear, like an old acquaintance ready to be friends again.

It’s important to know that a characteristic of my disease is self-centeredness that affects not only me but the lives of those around me. I explain this as the devil on my shoulder, telling me it’s okay to treat myself because I deserve it. I have worked so hard and been good to so many people, it’s time to finally do something for me. Even if these things are not true, I am able to convince myself they are completely factual.

The actions or thinking I am trying to justify during these times are usually something detrimental to my life and my goals; drugs, gambling, making money in an unethical way, just to name a few in which I am looking out for number one. These things are fun, and I enjoy them, but they also got me where I am today.

But my disease started affecting people long before I was incarcerated. It showed up in my absence during birthdays and holidays. Even when I was there physically, I was not always there mentally or emotionally. My disease brought shame to my family as our name was dragged through the mud. It brought countless tears to the eyes of the people that love me the most, all because I was only thinking about myself.

Then there’s money, something I have never been able to handle responsibly. My disease has convinced me numerous times to go unthinkable depths to obtain it. Stealing from my parent’s restaurant, fabricating a fake business plan and pitching it to my loved ones, and running a multi-state drug ring.

It has been almost three and a half years since my last drug use of any sort. I have learned that even after the drugs are gone, my disease is still active in my life in a variety of ways.

As of lately, I have even lost sight of my recovery and didn’t even notice it, my sponsor did, however, as he asked me my view on “money.” He pointed out that it was in my writing and he was right, right there in my first two answers, we discussed it, and then he asked, “Who is Noah without it?”

I discovered new insecurities that day due to my lack of success and my dependency on friends and family and the guilt and shame I have been carrying because of my past actions and behaviors in regards to money, specifically the times I borrowed it and never paid it back, mom, grandparents, siblings, the list goes on and on.

Now I am scared of going back there, but I am unintentionally starting to build my relationships based on it. He says he wants me to be aware of it moving forward and to do some soul searching on the topic.

That’s my disease present in my life, even after the drugs are removed. It might appear more subtle, but over time, if nothing is done about it, the damage can be just as catastrophic. I lost sight of my primary purpose, by looking years down the road, years that will never happen if I don’t live just for today.

As I dug deeper into the patterns that I have followed in my life, I realized these patterns were more easily tracked by actions. But behind each action is the thought that causes it. The urge to use, the fear to run, and the insecurity to quit are a few patterns that I personally relate to. I never thought I was an insecure person until I started sharing my thoughts and emotions through my writing. Now the evidence is starting to pile up against me. So much that if this were a jury trial, the judge may even dismiss the case before any deliberation is needed. 


There I said it! What do I do when I feel insecure? I quit, I run, or I mask it with something else, typically a drug or some sort of obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Initially, I thought I was unable to relate to obsessive-compulsive behavior, I didn’t think someone with ADD could even focus on a task long enough to even allow it to get to that point. When asked to describe it, I guessed it would be like getting tunnel vision, where nothing else matters, and it controls your train of thought, which would then cause you to act in a compulsive manner.

I couldn’t think of a time when I had done such a thing, I guess I was trying to disqualify myself, but then it happened to me.  I spent all day worrying and dwelling on something that was completely out of my control.  I had two or three things that I wanted to get accomplished and I put it all off because I didn’t think I would be able to get any actual work done when my mind was focused on something else entirely. So I spent the whole day walking the track trying to get my mind off the issue.

Finally, the day had wound down, and I had started to realize I was over exaggerating the situation, and I sat down to complete a question in my step working guide, and the question is, “What is it like when I’m obsessed with something?” Well, there it is!

This is two weeks of work, I will keep you posted as I continue my journey of recovery. If there is something you are struggling with, in your life, try it out, and you don’t have to be an addict to benefit from step work. Give it a shot, take a leap of faith, and remember if you need help, go get it.

Thanks for listening!


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