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How to Work a 12 Step Program to Recover from Addiction

Updated on October 5, 2016
Kathleen Odenthal profile image

Kathleen is a 29 year old mom who struggled with anorexia for decades. She is now in recovery & hopes to educate others about this disease.

Find Serenity - Find Sobriety

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was the book that helped me realize how powerless I was over alcohol. It also helped me realize I wasn't alone. If you are

What is the 12 Step Recovery Module?

The 12-step recovery module, which originated in the 1950s through the program of Alcoholic's Anonymous, has now become widely used tools to help people suffering from all kinds of addictions abstain from various behaviors and achieve recovery.

From drug addictions to food addictions to shopping addictions, twelve step fellowships are popping up all over the place as a resource for people to find serenity and lead a better life.

The basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous, entitled the Big Book, declares the program as a successful way to recover from addiction right in the beginning of the book.

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path, those who do not recover are men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates, they are not at fault. They seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty." - The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The three key components that are required by any person struggling with an addiction who is truly seeking recovery are honesty, open mindedness, and willingness With these traits, addicts are well on their way to healing themselves from their addiction.

Always Remember to Bring it Back to the Basics - In AA, that Refers to Steps 1, 2, and 3

Addiction isn't Just About the Addict

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How Do 12 Step Fellowships Work?

The growth of twelve-step fellowships is tremendous and their popularity should be made known. These programs are respectable and reputable, encouraging next right action and good moral works. Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness are the cornerstones of these twelve-step fellowships and the backbone of the spirituality of the program.

The main principle is that the person finds some power greater than himself to help him recover from his addiction, or whatever he may be struggling with, and he surrenders to that power.

Sponsorship is a key part of the program. A sponsor takes his/her sponsee through the twelve steps. It is said that only in giving away what one has does one gain the ability to keep what one has received, so service is of the utmost importance. Therefore, commitments are what hold together the meetings. Every twelve-step fellowship was built around twelve steps and twelve traditions; they are the foundation of twelve-step recovery and more importantly the program’s survival.

There are no requirements for membership. There are no dues or fees. All that is required is a desire to get better. This is not a residential country club, a typical college fraternity, nor is it an elitist society or a cult. These people have worked hard to get where they are.

They know what it’s like to be in the pits of hell and want to help others like themselves trudge the road of happy destiny. They have found lives beyond their wildest dreams. Once in the depths of despair, they have found new light, and now their goal is to carry newcomers through the program the same way they were so many years before.

Twelve Step Programs are Used to Treat Many Issues

Today there are 12 step programs for alcoholics, addicts, overeaters, undereaters, people in debt and more.
Today there are 12 step programs for alcoholics, addicts, overeaters, undereaters, people in debt and more. | Source

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Who Attends 12 Step Meetings?

Men and women of all ages across the globe are joining hand in hand in the fight to take back their lives, and with the help of the twelve step program, the twelve step fellowship, and a faith in a power greater than themselves, they are doing just that!

Food addiction, chemical dependency, sex and love addiction, nicotine addiction, spending addiction, and gambling addiction are all common twelve step fellowships. Meetings can be found all over the country and even the globe.

The twelve step program has become a world wide phenomenon - a way of treating what was once thought of as an untreatable condition.

All are welcome, and none are judged in these meeting rooms. People from all walks of life can find unity in strength, bonding over a common problem through the 12-steps. Regardless of age, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or gender, when addicts come to meetings, everyone is the same, and they are all treated as equals. That is the bond that holds the fellowship together.


Addictions Come in Many Forms

Alcohol isn't the only addiction that people have 12 step meetings for, in fact, the 12 step recovery module is used in many treatment centers helping people suffering from eating disorders, drug addiction, weight issues, debt issues and more.
Alcohol isn't the only addiction that people have 12 step meetings for, in fact, the 12 step recovery module is used in many treatment centers helping people suffering from eating disorders, drug addiction, weight issues, debt issues and more. | Source

Many times in recovery, we are asked to write about our current and past struggles. This guided journal helped me realize barriers in my recovery and helped me

Components of Recovery from Addiction

The 12-steps are only one component of the fellowship. A popular saying in AA is that "faith without works is dead". This means that actions must be taken if you truly want to recover from your addiction.

Meetings, sponsorship, support, service, and a belief in a Higher Power, are all foundations upon which recovery can be built. If you work the program with rigorous honesty, your life will improve, this program is a testament to that.

The remarkable change that takes place in the rooms of these meetings can be astounding, as lives can be reformed and people are reborn. But a common slogan heard throughout the program is that "it only works if you work it," and many find that statement to be very true.

Addiction is the disease, and the steps are the medicine, if practiced daily, it is shown that people can recover, but "faith without works is dead."


© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal Romano

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    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image
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      Kathleen Odenthal Romano 2 years ago from Bayonne, New Jersey

      That is the sad truth with addiction, most of us do not recover. It can be very difficult to find that small bit of courage inside you when you are at your lowest that drives you to recover. I tried and failed many times before getting sober, and now I have over three years sober after ten years as an addict. I know it is possible, but I know it is also extremely hard. I know the damage you speak of because it happened to my family, only I was the one causing it. I can never make up for my past, but I can try by living a better future.

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      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Very good......Bravo!.....You have stated true facts and expressed the importance of these programs for all to understand.

      Having been married to a man with more than one addiction for 12 years, my experiences have been up close and personal. Although I may have earned an invaluable education, I can state quite truthfully, it is not something I would ever care to repeat in my lifetime. ( He is long gone from my life, remarried and now driving another co-dependent woman crazy) Amen.

      While I have much compassion for individuals dealing with addictions..and wholeheartedly trying to be victorious over them....I have seen more than I ever cared to, in terms of the struggles and results.

      I know several people who have been successful and work the program every day of their lives......but sadly, I have also witnessed many failures that ultimately ended tragically.

      IMHO..."Addiction" despite it's spelling, is actually a Four-letter-word.

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