Are 12 Step Support Meetings a Waste of Time?
Many people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction continue to experience physical discomforts long after they’ve stopped abusing substances. Whether in detox, residential or outpatient treatment, these discomforts “seem” to account for much of the difficulty involved with maintaining continued abstinence. Considering how physical discomfort seems to lie at the root of persistent drug cravings, it can be easy to view 12 Step support meetings as a total waste of time.
While the day-to-day grind of addiction recovery may indeed be uncomfortable on a physical level, the psychological underpinnings of addiction actually drive the ongoing drug cravings a person experiences in recovery. In this respect, 12 Step support meetings can prove invaluable as a means for addressing the actual root of ongoing drug cravings.
Whether it be alcohol or drugs, the root of addiction takes shape within the areas of the brain that determine a person’s psychological make-up. Before this happens, the brain undergoes fundamental changes on a physical level.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addictive substances in general have the ability to alter the brain’s chemical configuration. These interactions set the stage for physical dependency to develop, which plays an active role in driving continued drug use. As physical dependency soon brings on symptoms of drug withdrawal, it can be easy to associate the physical effects of drug abuse with the drug cravings that persist after a person stops using addictive substances. However, continued drug use triggers a whole other cycle of dependency as the brain continually adapts to a changing chemical environment.
In effect, chemical imbalances reach a point where the areas of the brain involved in thinking and emotions start to change in response the ongoing effects of addictive substances. Herein lies addiction’s home. Once these areas of the brain become affected, a psychological dependence starts to form, at which point a person’s motivations, priorities and overall mental outlook becomes fixated and obsessed with getting and using addictive substances.
The Role of 12 Step Support Meetings
According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, the 12 Step support approach centers around the steps a person has to take in order to undo the addiction mindset. From there, a person learns to develop healthy coping strategies and behaviors for managing everyday life without the need for drugs (or alcohol). In effect, the 12 Step support model specifically addresses the psychological underpinnings of addiction within a person’s day-to-day life.
While 12 Step support meetings do adhere to a 12 step model for personal growth, the guiding principles behind this approach can be boiled to:
- Accepting compulsive drug and alcohol use as a serious problem in one’s life
- Changing one’s attitude towards drug-free living
- Developing healthy belief systems towards self and others
- Changing one’s daily habits, routines and behaviors
Through ongoing 12 Step support meeting attendance and participation, these principles, combined with support and guidance from other like-minded individuals, works to undo the psychological aftereffects of addiction that drive continued drug cravings.
If you or someone you know are considering entering a 12 Step support-based program and have further questions about how this treatment model works, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-653-7143 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.