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mental obsessionWhen it comes to addiction, many of us believe that alcohol and other drugs are the sources of the problems in our lives. As we begin the work of our 12-Step program, we come to learn that the underlying issues we have are inside of ourselves. Alcohol and other drugs were our solutions to the problems we suffered internally. Addiction is directly related to the phenomenon of craving. It is referred to as the mental obsession we have with alcohol or our drug of choice. This craving is out of our control and it is so powerful that we don’t always notice how devious its influence can be. Regardless of how long we have been sober, or how desperate we are to become sober, a true alcoholic or addict is constantly fighting this cunning obsession. Working a 12-Step program is the practice that helps us combat this mental phenomenon. Our bodies and brains are wired, as addicts, to convince us that drinking and using is acceptable, even sometimes necessary. The work of our program is something we must practice every single day if we are going to combat and survive our disease and obsession.

The Hidden Influence of Addiction 

In the literature from one of the 12-Step programs, there is a story of a man who was getting sober. He had begun to rebuild his life, reconnecting with his family, and returning to work for an automobile company he once owned. One day, he was feeling irritable so he took a drive to a place where he thought he could potentially sell a car. Stopping to have lunch at a restaurant he always visited, he comments that he had no thoughts of drinking or any noticeable urges. The restaurant had a bar, and even so, he claimed he had no instinct to have a drink. Suddenly, he says, the thought came to him that he could handle a small bit of alcohol if he added it to his milk. He had eaten a sandwich and his stomach was full, so the tiny amount of alcohol wouldn’t affect him negatively. After the first milk-drink, he saw no harmful effect, so he continued to drink them. Soon after, he was back in an asylum, suffering from the misery of returning to his addiction. His life was finally getting back in order, he had begun to work the 12-steps, but he admitted that his connection to a Higher Power wasn’t fully formed yet. Without the continuous practice of the 12-steps, he lacked the tools to prevent himself from a relapse. 

The Power of Recovery

The man in the story behaved similarly to many alcoholics and addicts right before a relapse. His claim was that he had no intention of drinking. No one offered him alcohol, he wasn’t in a bad mood, this day was no different than any other. And yet, suddenly, he had the thought to add alcohol to his milk. This is an example of the mental obsession that every alcoholic and addict suffers from. We fight so hard to move forward and avoid drinking or using other drugs, and yet our brains can tell us that we still can, that we can find a way to drink or use normally. Regardless of how long you have been sober, the phenomenon of craving and mental obsession will remain a part of you. We can’t remove them completely, or find a way to safely drink or use. Through the 12-step program, we instead find ways to manage these thoughts and cravings so that we can live a sober, more satisfying life. The man who added alcohol to his milk had not been practicing the 12-steps and was running on self-will. When the thought occurred to him, he didn’t reach out to his Higher Power or call another alcoholic. He wasn’t immersed enough in his program to have the tools to protect him from that relapse. His mental obsession and craving overpowered his desire to stay sober, even without his awareness. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

The 12-step program is designed to help alcoholics and addicts build a toolkit to restore their sanity. Each step builds on the last one to return balance to your life and to help you be capable of managing the mental obsession of addiction. However, this isn’t something that you complete in a few months and never revisit. The program is something that you practice every single day. The tools you learn are there to guide you through life so that you will know what to do when temptations arise or life doesn’t go as planned. Every day there are things that make us want to drink or use. These difficult times will happen. Through step-work and a relationship with our Higher Power, we are able to move farther and farther away from those harmful habits and are able to make healthier choices. 


Establishing any new discipline requires practice. We practice by praying and meditating every day. Working with a sponsor as well as sponsees is another way we practice the program. Understanding that we can never know everything there is to know and allowing ourselves to learn on a daily basis helps us turn our will over to our Higher Power. We must stay involved in our program at all times to maintain our sobriety and our sanity. Otherwise, one day we will have the idea that adding alcohol to our milk is alright. The phenomenon of craving and our mental obsession will overpower our will to recover and survive. If we do not practice the things we are taught in the 12-steps, we once again put our lives at risk. The 12-steps are there to teach and protect us and if we put in the required work, we will find that our lives are worth it. 


At The Guest House Ocala, we have personal recovery experience and over 12 years in the recovery industry. We have helped countless people recover, and we’re here to help you too. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.