(even if you dislike or don’t agree with the 12 step concept)

There is much disagreement on the efficacy of the 12 step approach to recovery with many claiming it is not effective. Others object to the “God” aspect, or call the 12 step approach a cult. Still others claim there is no “scientific” research to show it works or that there is no such thing as an “addiction illness.”

However, in spite of the on-going arguments, there are 5 key benefits that almost everyone can agree on and that make the 12 step concept of addiction recovery one of the most amazing phenomena of the 20th century.

1. The 12 steps provide a structured, step by step approach to recovery. Addiction is an incredibly complex situation, because it involves every area of life—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. The 12 steps help simplify the road to recovery by offering simple (but not easy) action steps that can be taken by anyone who is willing and there are millions who have used this program to achieve a sane and happy lifestyle. In fact, looked at from another perspective, one could make the argument that the 12 step program is a design for living.

2. The 12 step program suggests newcomers ask someone in the program to sponsor them. They recommend the member find someone who has the kind of recovery s/he wishes. The sponsor is there to act as a mentor (sharing what has been handed down to her/him and to take the newcomer through the steps. ) This provides not only a model for the newcomer but also lets the newcomer identify with someone who has been in the same spot s/he finds himself. This is the beginning of the end of the isolation which is so common to people who are addicted. The sponsor is able to spot where the newcomer may get in trouble and offer support as well as holding the newcomer accountable.

3. There is probably nothing that will reach an addict as powerfully as walking into a room of complete strangers and hearing someone talk out-loud about all the secrets he has been so carefully hiding from everyone—and maybe hiding from himself. It is life-changing to hear others talk openly about fears, hopes, victory over seemingly “hopeless” situations. It can be likened to those who have been rescued from a shipwreck. The book Alcoholics Anonymous puts it like this: “We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from shipwreck when camaraderie, joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain’s table. …The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us.” (p. 17)

4. There is support available 24/7 in every country in the world as well as online meetings. There is never a time nor a place where the hands of 12 steppers cannot be experienced. If one looks in the phone directory or online, 12 step programs abound. For a list of many different groups, click here. (List is at the bottom of the page)

5. As soon as a newcomer is able, the service aspect is presented. Most addicts and alcoholics become pretty self-centered and isolated by the time they reach the rooms. For most, it is a scary prospect to ask for help and to begin to break out of the desolation and depression that accompany addiction. To once again feel as though he can contribute, whether it means simply setting up chairs for a meeting or making coffe, can be a way of staying involved and connecting. Later, he learns that he cannot keep his sobriety/recovery unless he gives it away. As his recovery evolves, he will sponsor others as he has been sponsored. In this way, the newcomer learns to contribute to the well-being of the group as well as gaining self-esteem and feeling good. That sense of belonging is often underlying at least some of the reason many choose to drink or use substances. And self-esteem comes from acting in a way that is esteem-able.

12 step programs can be an important part of recovery—and the best part…IT’S FREE!!!!
To find out more about recovery, get your free book here.

Author's Bio: 

Sandra Lenington, MA is an authority on the psychology of recovery with a purpose of assisting others to experience the psychic change that is sufficient to assure a life of irresistible joy and balance. As a life-long learner and lover of new and fun techniques, she insists that recovery be joyful...otherwise, why do it? The bottom line? If it doesn't work, try something else!

She also trains other coaches and previously has worked as a physical therapist as well as having owned several companies that develop websites; she has worked for NASA as a research engineer. http://crossaddictionrecovery.com/12stepPrograms