Step 2 – Saying Goodbye to Defiance

Contributor: Bethany Winkel is a writer for My Recovery Helper

Portrait of handsome man outdoorsDefiance is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “a refusal to obey something or someone, or the disposition to resist.” People act with defiance in many areas of their life, but one of the ways defiance causes definite problems is when a person is recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.

Being defiant during recovery can truly cripple a person’s ability to succeed. Are you struggling with defiance? If so, it is time to say goodbye to that part of your life and move on with recovery.

Step 2 of Alcoholic Anonymous’ 12-Steps to recovery is: Believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. It goes on to say in the Big Book1 that the “roadblocks of indifference, fancied self-sufficiency, prejudice, and defiance” often stand in the way of one’s recovery.

Letting Go of Control

An attitude of defiance goes against all that the 12-Steps promote. It is responsible for keeping many people in their addiction, as they cannot bring themselves to let go of their control and admit they do not have all the answers. The problem with defiance is that it keeps the addict from humbling himself or herself to a higher power.

Rather than admit that a greater power could restore them, the addict will either deny the benefit of letting go of the control, deny the higher power exists, or try to cope with their addiction on their own.

Pride Keeps Us from Letting Go

Desperate businessmanDefiance can be shown in many different ways. Some of the ways are subtle, while others are much more blatant. Someone might outright declare that they do not have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse and do not need others telling them to get help.

Other people will begin treatment, but will not take to heart what they are being taught. They don’t apply the principles or open up to counselors, and are soon failing out of the program and relapsing. Still others try to take bits and pieces out of a treatment program, but never admit deep down that it all applies to them.

Admitting You Are Wrong

People who are defiant might resist any kind of help or concern, and will do the opposite of what their loved ones suggest.

No one likes to admit they are wrong. We don’t like to be told we are doing something harmful or dangerous. We like to rule our own lives, and we use a million excuses to justify our actions. When under the control of drugs or alcohol, these unhealthy attitudes become even more dangerous.

Pride and ego are huge parts of most addictions, and anything that threatens these is simply not allowed by the addict.

Leaving Defiance Behind

Human hands showing unityAfter analyzing human nature and the addict’s overwhelming need to protect his or her pride, recovery can seem far off and unlikely. But it is not. It is necessary to say goodbye to defiance, but this can happen in several ways.

A family intervention or conversation with the addict can help them see the damage their addiction is causing. This realization is sometimes enough to get the person to consider treatment. Once in treatment, counselors and staff work immediately to help the person see the trouble their defiance is causing in their life.

The person might have admitted in Step 1 that their life was unmanageable, but now in Step 2, they must accept that the key to recovery is that they need to give up control to a higher power to achieve sobriety. Daily therapy and counseling sessions can help the person find ways to put aside their defiance and turn things over to their higher power.

Losing Nothing and Healing

Many people mistakenly believe that they have everything to lose by admitting to an addiction and relying on the support of others to help them in recovery. In reality, a person has nothing to lose. The fact is that they have already brought dysfunction and destruction into their lives, and now are powerless to bring themselves out of it.

Letting go of the control allows others to come in and help them piece things back together. The trick is to help the addict learn to trust the kindness and love of others, and to believe that a higher power can and will heal them. With a sorted past and a history of painful relationships, this is often difficult to carry out, but it is the way to true recovery.

Are you holding on to an addiction because you haven’t found the humility to say you can’t do it all on your own? Search yourself and take to heart what the 12-Steps have taught millions over the years. Belief in a higher power means reliance, not defiance. Believe in your higher power and leave your defiance behind you for good.

About the Author:

Bethany Winkel is a writer for My Recovery Helper (, a free web-based treatment referral service. Bethany has been helping people learn about addiction and recovery through her writing for the past six years.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What is your experience with leaving defiance behind and coming to rely on your higher power? How has this impacted your recovery?

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addiction. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 21st, 2015
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