Steps for a Lifetime
Reconnection: It forms the pattern of “Step by Step,” an interdenominational program for addicts run by Paul Bradley ’76 at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
Helpful in understanding a broad range of addictions, the program’s concepts can be applied to overeating and anorexia, drinking, gambling, drug use, overspending, sexual compulsion, rage and unhealthy relationships. “The common thread is that addictions keep us from being connected to ourselves and other people,” explains Bradley, an ordained minister who is also vice president for development and institutional advancement at New York Theological Seminary. “Reconnection is a doorway to freedom.”
Instituted five years ago, “Step By Step” integrates the tools of the 12-Step Recovery Movement developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. The most difficult step? Bradley says it’s the first one: admitting the problem. “Denial has to fall away. I have to admit that I’m not just buying a lottery ticket, I’m spending my paycheck on the lottery. I’m not just rewarding myself with a piece of cake, I’m eating the entire cake. It’s a matter of connecting with reality.”
Five years ago, during his final year at Union Theological Seminary, addiction was the central part of Bradley’s master’s thesis. Today, the themes of disconnecting and reconnecting have taken on even greater meaning in his work: helping others to break out of isolation, to connect with a community of people in recovery, to open themselves to the collective wisdom of others.
“It’s important to remember that connecting is not just a one-time occurrence,” he says. “It’s a lifelong process.”