12 Step Recovery Programs

Meeting2The structure that started with Alcoholics Anonymous has spread far and wide in the 75 years since its inception. The 12 step model for recovery has been copied in a wide variety of areas where human beings struggle to overcome their harmful desires.

While not all step programs necessarily pattern themselves after AA, most do. They use the original 12 steps and modify them to fit the specific problem area. The word “alcohol” is replaced by “overeating” or “gambling” to match up the concepts.

Doing this gives an established structure and plan to what otherwise might be an undirected wandering. Addicts of all stripes can see, going in, what the road looks like and take heart in having a map to follow. It also helps give substance to meetings. Addicts and those struggling with a problem behavior can share stories and talk about working the steps. Some feel that these sharings are just as important as the steps themselves. In some ways, modern psychology duplicates this with group therapy. There is certainly a power in hearing from someone’s own lips about their own struggles and successes.

The main criticism of 12 step recovery programs is their lack of professional input from the medical community. However, they are not meant to replace therapy when therapy is warranted. When addicts can gather together in a joint effort to actively work toward sobriety (and at no cost) they are acting to empower themselves and take control of their own lives. This is hard to argue against.

To find out more about a particular 12 step recovery program, search with the name of the addiction or problem. There are a surprising number of programs available.

One difficulty is evaluating them for your own particular needs. Because most 12 step programs do not fall under a central controlling authority, what actually happens may depend on the group you attend. While all have some value, one group may resonate with you more than another. Don’t give up if the first meeting you attend doesn’t seem to be worthwhile. Stick with it.

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