12 Step Program: Advice on Following One
Any 12 step program has its origins in the original AA 12 step program that was developed way back in the 1930’s by the founders of AA.
Nowadays the original 12 steps from Alcoholics Anonymous have been adapted to deal with all sorts of different addictions, from drugs to gambling and even sex.
And if you’ve read much of what I’ve written at all on this website, especially when it comes to treating alcoholism or drug addiction, I tend to recommend 12-step based programs above all others.
Because it provides a drug addict or alcoholic with a proven blueprint or map to follow to leave a life of addiction behind them. Is it the only way? Of course not! But my view is – why try and re-invent the wheel when you have a proven system that works?
So in a nutshell - A twelve-step program provides you with the map – but ultimately it’s how diligently you follow that map that determines your success in leaving a life of addiction behind you for good.
And then as you progress in your recovery and develop the belief and confidence that you will not relapse into your old addictive tendencies, you will get a sense of what really works for you and you can then be more flexible in how you use the 12 steps, or even adapt them to suit your requirements.
Many ardent 12 step program followers might disagree with that, but that’s what I did. As your self-awareness and maturity develops – you know what you need and what works for you – and so you can do what you need, to ensure you don’t relapse into those self-destructive habits again.
For me personally it's ensuring that my life maintains a spiritual core, which is the foundation on which I build everything else, and then devoting myself to continually try and grow and develop as a person. I do this through meditating daily, reading voraciously and trying to be the best person I can be, flaws and all.
So I don’t follow the 12 steps as they are laid out anymore – but the premise of the 12 steps is a spiritual one, as is the premise of my life.
But when you’re starting out – I do think it’s a good idea to follow the steps because it gives you a certain purpose and direction. And that’s the time you’re most vulnerable.
Plus you gain a certain comfort and strength from the people you meet by going to meetings – and so the feelings of isolation, loneliness and ‘always being the outsider’ that most addicts experience – is replaced with a sense of belonging and identity knowing that there are others going through what you are.
And eventually without even realising, the desire to drink, take drugs or whatever will have left you. Why that happens exactly, I don’t know, but it does.
There are many people that never go through rehab etc. that manage to leave the worst addictions like Heroin behind them – just by regularly going to 12 step meetings.
There is definitely a certain ‘indescribable something’ or power that permeate the steps – if you WORK them. People change and transform in the most wonderful ways.
Of course there are many people doing the 12 steps that ‘fall off the wagon’ – but they’re usually the one’s not working the steps or aren’t really ready yet to commit to changing old ways.
I’m certainly no 12 step program fanatic. I’ve just tried to give you my perspective on them. At least commit to the steps initially and give them a try – and if you then find you outgrow them or want to move on, as I did, then fine.
The 12 StepsHere then is a general version of the 12 steps based on the original AA 12 step program that can be used with any addictive tendency and that isn't AA or NA specific. For their versions visit the AA and NA websites.
Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable
Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out
Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
Obviously there's a lot more to understanding these steps in depth - that's why I believe you should get to a meeting and try them yourself before passing judgement on them.
Some people get scared off by the use of the word God - don't be! Any 12 step program is non-religious. You can relate to God, The Universe or any Higher Power of your choosing however you want.
Further Suggested ReadingIs the Prevention of Alcoholism a realistic aim? I'm not sure, but I do discuss ideas as to how we can at least reduce the rapidly increasing numbers of people that succumb to alcoholism and drug addiction.
Relapse Prevention strategies are fundamental to ensuring you maintain your sobriety and ensuring your 12 Step Recovery Plan works.
The Prevention of Drug Addiction looks at strategies and ideas to stop more people, especially our young, succumbing to a life of addiction.
If you're struggling with any form of addiction, have you thought about trying Drug Addiction Counseling or Recovery Coaching? Having your own coach can help you on your journey of recovery.
To find out more about a couple of resources that I have found that will help you get more out of any 12 step program you work and help you create lasting and meaningful change faster than anything I have seen, visit the Addiction Recovery Toolbox area
The success of any 12 Step Program is ultimately dependent on the quality of treatment you receive and the things you do in your ongoing Recovery from Alcohol or Drug Addiction.
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