Addiction is a special kind of insanity. The word insanity is used here in a popular, not a psychiatric sense. It follows that if you are counting on a Higher Power or Program to restore you to sanity (Step Two), then in the addiction you must have some kind of insanity.

The Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 35), tells about an alcoholic named Jim, who had several months of sobriety when he stopped at a roadside restaurant where they also had a bar. He ordered a sandwich and a glass of milk, and thought it couldn’t possibly hurt him to drink an ounce of whiskey in the milk, since it would be on a full stomach.

“Whatever the precise definition of the word may be, we call this plain insanity. How can such a lack of proportion, of the ability to think straight, be called anything else?”

Fear of Insanity

Some addicts, especially those with a history of mental illness in the family, experience fear when they think of themselves as insane. The good thing about addiction insanity is that it can easily be cured by the recovery process.

Faking sanity Many addicts are crafty and have good persuasion skills. This actually works against you in recovery, for you can act a lot saner than you actually are. You may be able to convince family, employers, counselors, or even others in the Program that everything is going well — you might even fool yourself, unfortunately — but recovery usually comes only from honesty, and a cooperative effort between yourself, your Higher Power or Program, and others in recovery.

Image management Many addicts, including most women and eating addicts, have some degree of distortion of body image. This kind of insanity improves only gradually, and you may simply have to accept that at times you may feel fat or ugly, and accept the word of other loving people that you are great just as you are.

Restoring Sanity

How does the restoration of sanity come about? Gradually. At first, you may make mistakes in your recovery, taking control and charging off into poor judgment, and only realizing afterward that you could have made better choices. Later, you may be able to catch yourself before the lapse, or relapse, has fully occurred, and reach out for help then. The sooner you can recognize addictive thinking and take recovery steps, the better, of course.

Sanity in Recovery

Sanity in recovery means listening for the support from your Higher Power and others in recovery, being honest, and following a course of recovery development, in physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. This is the spiritual awakening that Step Twelve talks about.

Sanity, see also: Acceptance, Crisis, Dichotomous thinking, Higher Power, Honesty, Magical thinking, Openmindedness, Power, Powerlessness, Prayer & meditation, Professional organizations, Program, Psychological problems, Religiosity, Self-centeredness, Serenity, Step One, Step Two, Step Three, Step Seven, Step Eleven, Stinking thinking, Surrender, Trust.

Updated 11 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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