This one can. Rabbi Eitan Eckstein’s groundbreaking work brings the 12 Step program to non-addicts and addicts alike. Through this 8 part workshop, you experience the 12 Steps through horseback riding or bicycle riding. To the layperson, it’s a fascinating read and a peek into one’s inner self. To a horse or bike riding enthusiast, it’s a new means of self-empowerment and group empowerment.
It’s Your Move is based on the concept that life is a journey. Like any journey, you need a map and a compass in order to navigate. What happens if your compass falls and becomes damaged? You won’t be able to continue your journey without getting seriously lost.
An addict is someone whose internal compass is damaged; they think they are following the right path but in reality they have no idea which way is north.
Some questions explored in this book:
How do I approach problems? What makes me tick?
Is addiction a problem—or a solution?
Can addiction be prevented?
How can you motivate an addict to enter treatment?
Why do good kids from the upper socioeconomic strata of society become addicts?
Who is really in charge of my life, me or my emotions?
What is codependency and how does it affect the addict in my life?
Do we have to blame ourselves for our loved one’s addiction?
To purchase “It’s Your Move” by Rabbi Eitan Eckstein: $4.99
Here is an excerpt from It’s Your Move:
The World of Addiction
According to the laws of physics, every empty space seeks to fill itself.
Imagine a compass that whose base has been damaged. It’s dented inward and can no longer stand stable on a flat surface. Any material that will stabilize the base of the compass by filling this void will remain there. If the material filling the void has magnetic properties, the compass will seem as if it’s finally balanced and stable, but in reality the magnetic substance will divert the needle from the true North Pole to a false one.
To translate this analogy to the world of addiction, the blow sustained by the compass can be sexual abuse, denigration and humiliation, fear, trauma caused by a threat to safety, or any significant factor that can cause emotional pain. (It is difficult to quantify the severity of the blow needed to inflict significant emotional pain because the scale is unique for every individual.) The emotional pain creates a void in the person’s inner world, a void that causes suboptimal functioning. A person experiences this as a sort of incessant buzz in the head that is truly maddening. In order to quiet this noise, the void needs to be filled. And it is successfully filled, by a “magnetic substance”—not once but numerous times.
Take this example of an incident that occurred in Sderot, a town in southern Israel not far from Gaza. The people of Sderot suffered for years from rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The many casualties were injured or killed in full sight of the men, women, and children who tried to carry on with their daily lives as if all was normal. Obviously, the alarm and stress was traumatic—and ongoing.
It was a quarter to eight in the morning. The school bus, on its way to a Sderot school, was filled with the sound of laughter, chatting, and music leaking out from the earbuds of MP3 players. Just another ordinary day.
Until air raid sirens forced the driver to bring the bus to a screeching halt, shouting, “Everyone out! Run for cover!”
This was no drill. All the students rushed out of the bus and ran in different directions—all except Sarah, who remained firmly planted to the bus seat as if she had grown roots.
The driver, who could see her from his own sheltered place, called out, “Don’t try to be brave! Run!”
But Sarah was not being brave; she was mortified. From the shock and fear, she had wet herself. How could she bring herself to leave the bus in that state? Two courageous friends climbed up into the bus, covered her with a shirt, and found shelter together with her.
The story should end here, just like it did for all the other students. But for Sarah the story had only begun—not just a story but a whole “movie,” as she herself would later describe it. From that day on, Sarah began a steadily decline. She was ashamed to leave her house. She refused to go to school, sure that everyone would laugh at her and talk about the embarrassing incident. The only one she confided in about her burning shame was her pillow. Even the social worker’s home visits didn’t help.
Several months later, Sarah’s parents managed to convince her to go with them to a relative’s bar mitzvah. “Only on condition that we sit at a side table,” Sarah stipulated, and her parents gladly arranged this. At one point during the evening, she was left alone at the table while everyone else was celebrating on the dance floor. Sarah was thirsty, but all the soda bottles on the table were empty.
The only available drink was one glass bottle filled with a transparent liquid. Sarah was so thirsty, she poured herself a full glass. She almost choked on the drink that burned her throat, but suddenly, as if she had waved a magic wand, she felt nothing: no more pain, no more frustration, no more self-blame or shame. It was the most wonderful feeling ever.
After that, Sarah began to change. She resumed her old routine of school, friends, and extracurricular activities. Sarah’s parents were delighted that they’d convinced her to go to the bar mitzvah, since apparently it had contributed to all the seemingly positive changes that had taken place.
But Sarah’s reality was quite different.
No one knew except Sarah that what helped her out of bed was an amazing “psychologist” who is a master at helping people, adolescents and adults, cope with their problems—a “psychologist” by the name of Dr. Vodka.
Three months later, Sarah went with her friends to Retorno for “Hug Day”—a day of workshops dedicated to the prevention of addiction. At the end of the day-long seminar at Retorno, it dawned on Sarah that she was probably addicted to alcohol. This liquid solution that until now had helped her had itself become a problem. She would lie for it, steal for it, and trade anything for it. But it betrayed her. It had begun to demand more and more of her. She had no strength left—and so she was ready to seek help.
In our terminology, Sarah’s compass received a huge blow on the school bus that fateful day. The void that was formed then was filled with a magnet called vodka. This magnet caused the compass needle to deviate, creating vertigo in Sarah’s world. She began to change—to behave in ways that her own personal compass had not permitted before the incident had occurred.
Of course, this description is still too simple. There is no doubt that Sarah’s inner compass was very sensitive—perhaps because of a predisposition, or perhaps because the blow she absorbed at the time added to an accumulation of other blows from past incidents. Only in treatment, which in itself is not an easy journey, can suppressed memories arise into consciousness after being buried under a mountain of history.