12 Steps and Coda

12 Steps and Coda

12 things that may trigger relapse

12 Steps and CodaExhaustion: Allowing yourself to become overly tired. Not following through on self-care behaviors of adequate rest, good nutrition, and regular exercise. Good physical health is a component of emotional health. How you feel will be reflected in your thinking and judgment.

Dishonesty: It begins with a pattern of small, unnecessary lies with those you interact with in family, social, and at work. This is soon followed by lying to yourself or rationalizing and making excuses for avoiding working on your program.

Impatience: Things are not happening fast enough for you. Or, others are not doing what you want them to do or what you think they should do.

Argumentativeness: Arguing over small and insignificant points, indicating a need to always be right. This is sometimes seen as developing an excuse to drink.

Depression: Overwhelming and unaccountable despair may occur in cycle. If it does, talk about it and deal with it. You are responsible for taking care of yourself.

Frustration: With people and because things may not be going your way. Remind yourself intermittently that things are not always going to be the way that you want them.

Self-Pity: Feeling like a victim, refusing to acknowledge that you have choices and are responsible for your own life and the quality of it.

Cockiness: “Got it Made,” compulsive behavior is no longer a problem. Start putting self in situations where there are temptations to prove to others that you don’t have a problem.

Complacency: Not working your program with the commitment that you started with. Having a little fear is a good thing. More relapses occur when things are going well than when not.

Expecting Too Much From Others: “I’ve changed, why hasn’t everyone else changed too?” You can only control yourself. It would be great if other people changed their self-destructive behaviors, but that is their problem. You have your own problems to monitor and deal with. You cannot expect others to change their lifestyle just because you have.

Letting Up On Discipline: Daily inventory, positive affirmations, 12-Step meetings, therapy, meditation, prayer. This can come from complacency and boredom. Because you cannot afford to be bored with your program, take responsibility. Talk about it and problem solve it. The cost of relapse is too great. Sometimes you must accept that you have to do some things that are the routine for a clean and sober life.

The Use of Mood-Altering Chemicals: You may feel the need or desire to get away from things by drinking, popping a few pills, etc., and your physician may participate in the thinking that you will be responsible and not abuse the medication. This is the most subtle way to enter relapse. Take responsibility for your life and the choices that you make.

Codependence has received a lot of attention in the self-help literature. Perhaps it is really associated primarily with substance abuse. Perhaps it is a separate problem on its own that stems from other causes. It is not, however, a “personality disorder.”

Statements endorsed by codependent people

  • My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you and receiving approval from you.
  • Your struggles affect my serenity. I focus my mental attention on solving your problems or relieving your pain.
  • I focus my mental attention on pleasing you, protecting you, or manipulating you to “do it my way.”
  • I bolster my self-esteem by solving your problems and relieving your pain.
  • I put aside my own hobbies and interests. I spend my time sharing your interests and hobbies.
  • Because I feel you are a reflection of me, my desires dictate your clothing and personal appearance.
  • My desires dictate your behavior.
  • I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel.
  • I am not aware of what I want. I ask you what you want.
  • If I am not aware of something, I assume (I don’t ask or verify in some other way).
  • My fear of your anger and rejection determines what I say or do.
  • In our relationship I use giving as a way of feeling safe.
  • As I involve myself with you, my social circle diminishes.
  • To connect with you, I put my values aside.
  • I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.
  • The quality of my life depends on the quality of yours.
  • I am always trying to fix or take care of others while neglecting myself.
  • I find it easier to give in and comply with others than to express my own wants and needs.
  • I sometimes feel sorry for myself, feeling no one understands. I think about getting help, but rarely commit or follow through.


Psych Page, (2010) How to Assess Substance Abuse, http://www.psychpage.com/learning/library/assess/subabuse1.htm

Adult children of alcoholics appear to have characteristics in common as a result of being raised in an alcoholic home. Review the characteristics listed. If you identify with these characteristics then seek appropriate sources of support to understand and resolve them. You will find many self-help books on this subject. Additionally, there is Adult Children of Alcoholics 12-Step self-help community meeting, individual therapy, and group therapy facilitated by a therapist.

Common Characteristics

  • Isolation, fear of people, and fear of authority figures.
  • Difficulty with identity issues related to seeking constantly the approval of others.
  • Frightened by angry people and personal criticism.
  • Have become an alcoholic yourself, married one, or both. A variation would be the attraction to another compulsive personality such as a workaholic. The similarity is that neither is emotionally available to deal with overwhelming and unhealthy dependency needs.
  • Perpetually being the victim and seeing the world from the perspective of a victim.
  • An overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Concerned about the needs of others to the degree of neglecting your own wants and needs. This is a protective behavior for avoiding a good look at yourself and taking responsibility to identify and resolve your own personal difficulties.
  • Feelings of guilt associated with standing up for your rights. It is easier to give into the demands of others.
  • An addiction to excitement. Feeling a need to be on the edge, and risk-taking behaviors.
  • A tendency to confuse feelings of love and pity. Attracted to people that you can rescue and take care of.
  • Avoidance of feelings related to traumatic childhood experiences. Unable to feel or express feelings because it is frightening and/or painful and overwhelming. Denial of feelings.
  • Low self-esteem. A tendency to judge yourself harshly and be perfectionistic and self-critical.
  • Strong dependency needs and terrified of abandonment. Will do almost anything to hold onto a relationship in order to avoid the fear and pain of abandonment.
  • Alcoholism is a family disease which often results in a family member taking on the characteristics of the disease even if they are not alcoholics (para-alcoholics). Dysfunctional relationships, denial, fearful, avoidance of feelings, poor coping, poor problem solving, afraid that others will find out what you are really like, etc.
  • Tendency to react to things that happen versus taking control and not being victim to the behavior of others or situations created by others.
  • A chameleon. A tendency to be what others want you to be instead of being yourself. A lack of honesty with yourself and others.


Psych Page, (2010) How to Assess Substance Abuse, http://www.psychpage.com/learning/library/assess/subabuse1.htm

The 12 Steps

  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 alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


Psych Page, (2010) How to Assess Substance Abuse, http://www.psychpage.com/learning/library/assess/subabuse1.htm

Regards, Coyalita

Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Specialist & Addiction Counselor

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