What is a 12-Step Program?
It was 1935, in Akron, Ohio. Bob Smith and Bill W., both sufferers of Alcoholism, had been in contact with the Oxford Group. This group showed values in living spiritual lives and avoided alcohol. After Bob Smith and Bill W. met, they came to realize that alcoholism was a disease. This is when they decided to start a group to help others clean up their lives. Alcoholics would meet regularly as a coalition to stop their destructive ways. This group was called Alcoholics Anonymous, or A.A.
After 4 years of success, in 1939, Bill W. wrote and released a book that explained the core values and methodology that was Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Step Programs. This caught the eye of many publications and Alcoholics. In, 1950 it was recorded that there were now more than 100,000 recovered Alcoholics world-wide. Alcoholics Anonymous continued to grow and expand.
Over 200 different addiction programs were sprouted by the A.A. seed; Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Gamblers Anonymous were a few of them. All of which follow a similar twelve-step program to aid in the recovery of those suffering from their addictions.
The addicts who join these anonymous groups follow the steps provided, and with the help of their Mentors, they all seek recovery. But it is not an easy process. As it is so difficult to recover from one’s addictions, there are times when addicts find themselves relapsing.
Finding Faith After Active Addiction
The main idea behind the Twelve Steps Programs is finding support in your journey in recovery. The first step suggests letting a Higher Power or God assist them in their recovery. Step 2 in the Alcoholic Anonymous recovery model is: Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. This can be very difficult. Some addictions stem from personal loss, grief or as a coping mechanism. Many people often seek to self-medicate when they experience something traumatic. In addition to seeking their vices, these events have been known to cause some to lose their faith and to blame a higher power for their situation. This makes it hard for those people to allow themselves to be vulnerable to a higher power, or God, again.
In other situations, Atheists have a hard time with this because their beliefs cause them to dissociate with religion. A higher power can be hard to find when your core beliefs tell you otherwise. For those struggling to find a God, it can be difficult, but not impossible. The goal is not to find a God, but to seek something higher than themselves to aid them in recovery. During an interview with a man, who chose to remain anonymous, he explained how this was a step he could not follow.
“I’ve done rehab on 3 occasions. First time… was a 12-step program and I didn’t find that effective at all because I’m not religious… I do not like or use any 12-step programs so I can just say that I don’t find them appealing because they’re religion-based and that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t agree with the method… As far as faith, I am completely non-religious, so I believe a lot of my strength has come from within. “- Anonymous Addict who attended Narcotics Anonymous.
Step 4 and 5: Moral Inventory and Admitting Wrongdoings
The 4th and 5th steps of Alcoholics Anonymous can be the hardest. After a higher power has been found, it’s time to do some soul searching. Step 4 of the A.A. model is as follows: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Admitting to oneself that they have a weakness can be the hardest thing. Although very difficult, it is crucial in recovery to do this. Taking inventory in one’s life is what will assist in recovery and help with relapse.
In addition to the 4th Step, Step 5 can be equally as hard. Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. This is difficult for most as it can be hard to confront the fact that they have wrongdoings. Coming to an understanding of who they are, were and will be after addiction is difficult. This has the potential to cause a relapse. The reason is that the memories and feelings of wrongdoing can cause one to want to escape again. The easiest way to escape reality is through their addictions.
Step 9: Making Direct Amends
The 9th step of Alcoholics Anonymous is: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Sometimes confronting one’s past can be seriously difficult. Addictions have been known to hurt not only the user, but those around them. Owning up to past mistakes is hard. Apologizing and making up with them is even harder.
There can be feelings of guilt or shame when addressing those that have been affected by the mending process. People aren’t always going to forgive, and this can lead to relapse. Knowing that they caused permanent unforgivable damage if a very hard realization. The addicts have also known to be shamed or attacked during recovery by those who’ve experienced the hurt. This is a very good time for to reach on the ones sponsor for guidance.
Advice and Guidance: You are No Longer Alone in Your Journey in Recovery
Once the addict has decided to go to a meeting or seek recovery they are not alone. Sponsors and recovery addicts alike are there for support. It can be a difficult thing to grasp that everyone at these meetings are there to support one another. In order to have a steady recovery it is vital to surround oneself with a strong support system. It is important to keep people around that have your recovery in mind and look to aid in recovery.
If 12 steps do not work for the addict, there are different ways to seek recovery.