Running head: THE POWER OF POWERLESSNESS 1
THE POWER OF POWERLESSNESS
The Power of Powerlessness
University of Massachusetts Lowell
This paper was prepared for Psychiatric Nursing Clinical NURS. 3150, taught by Professor Kathleen Courtney.
The Power of Powerlessness
The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) believed that “a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 2014). Spirituality has proven itself to have a significant impact on addiction recovery. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, AA’s principles, explains that a higher power can remove alcohol obsession and inspire abstinence. Whether this ‘higher power’ they speak of is God, Buddha, or nature’s forces, faith that there is something greater than ourselves can give anyone strength during times of weakness. I attended an AA meeting held at Lowell General Hospital that focused on a powerlessness mindset and the need for a higher power to overcome addiction. They read aloud Step 2 from this book and each shared their own experience of finding their higher power. I found that the group’s acceptance of defeat against alcohol, and their ability to surrender to their own form of God, is what empowers them to stay abstinent.
In an article from the Huffington Post, Thomas Rosen opens up about his battle with alcoholism and his recovery experience through AA. He argues an opposing article from The Atlantic that scrutinizes AA’s efficacy, while touching upon aspects of the group such as its controversy when compared to science and its benefits compared to medication therapy. Rosen acknowledges that the twelve steps are not the only way to fight addiction, but he reiterates the fact that this program has saved millions of lives, including his, over the past 80 years. He understands that there is lack of scientific research to prove it, but the program is “anonymous” for a reason. I agree with his observation, recognizing that yes there are other options but why fight the program when it has countless positive outcomes? Rosen has a holistic approach to recovery, he discloses that the happiest times of his life were those when he felt a sense of devotion to a purpose greater than himself (Rosen, 2015). When evaluating the pharmacological approach, he reminds us that “if [the drug] is taken alone without any therapeutic program, it will be no more than a Band-Aid for the deeper core issues of a person’s life” (Rosen, 2015). In healthcare we aim to treat our patients both mentally and physically. We are not doing society justice if this medication is hiding sickness instead of healing it. From my experience at the meeting, the devastating guilt and shame that AA members carry, needs to be liberated by expressing their personal suffering with other addicts as well as their trust in a higher power.
A research article from the Department of Psychology at Minnesota State University explores the spirituality principle of AA,...