All over the world, people in recovery follow some version of the Twelve Steps. But what does that mean?
For over 80 years, generations of substance abusers have been helped by Alcoholics Anonymous. AA is support and fellowship group made up of alcoholics helping other alcoholics. In addition, Narcotics Anonymous was founded in 1953. Although a separate entity, NA’s philosophy uses the same principles as AA.
Since then, more than 200 distinct “anonymous” groups have been founded. These groups address almost any addiction – Cocaine Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and so on.
There are even special meetings held for specific demographics – women, teens, LGBTQ? people, etc. In other words, if you need support from others who have been where you are, there is a group for you.
There are groups available for anyone who has been affected by someone else’s substance abuse – Al-Anon or Alateen, for example. Because addiction is a generational disease, many people belong to both kinds of fellowship groups.
"The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us."
~The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
Every group follows some version of "The 12 Steps”. Many professional recovery programs incorporate the Steps as well, to augment evidence-based strategies.
But what are the 12 Steps, exactly?
Think of the Steps as a blueprint detailing a process that helps you recover from any out-of-control, or compulsive behavior. In other words, the Steps help you restore manageability to your life.
Here are the Twelve Steps and why each Step is significant:
Twelve Steps: The First Step
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol/our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable."
Experts say that people struggling with addictive disorders must freely admit that a problem exists before recovery can really begin. But the First Step means much more. Namely, it means rejecting the self-deception and denial that characterizes addiction.
An addicted person must accept the fact that their disease of addiction is beyond their ability to control it. In other words, they are “normal” way of doing things just doesn’t work. And, once they realize THAT, they become open to the idea that they need help.
Here are the two key concepts introduced in the First Step:
- Powerlessness – The individual has lost all control over their drug/alcohol consumption. They, can’t regulate when or how much they drink or use. The addiction has taken over.
The important consideration about powerlessness is this – the addicted person CANNOT use drugs or drink "safely" or “in moderation”. In addition, it means that staying sober isn’t about trying harder or using willpower.
- Unmanageability – Substance use is negatively impacting multiple areas of the person's life:
- Health – hangovers, overdoses, injuries, illnesses, mental health issues
- Relationships – quarrels with family, loss of trust, alienation
- Legal problems – DUIs, underage drinking, theft
Painful emotions – guilt, shame, remorse, resentment
Twelve Steps: The Second Step
"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."
There are two things to consider in the Second Step.
First, this Step represents HOPE. Instead of an existence of unending disease, dysfunction, and despair, the addicted person learns that a better life IS attainable.
To clarify, even though the substance abuser is powerless over their addiction, that does not mean that there isn’t a solution. Recovery IS possible.
Second, this Step suggests is that the addict can find inspiration, strength, and motivation from something greater than and apart from their own abilities. Provided that, of course, they put their own stubbornness and ego aside.
To sum up this Step – is hopeful and humbling. Hopeful, because there is a way out of the hell of addiction. And humbling, because it means that YOUR way of doing things doesn’t work. The answers lie elsewhere.
Because everyone’s addiction is different, your progression through the Twelve Steps is unique unto you. As a result, you work these Steps at your own pace. There is no set timetable. In fact, you may repeat certain steps again and again. More than likely, you will complete ALL Twelve Steps many times during your lifetime.
- Alcohol/drug detox
- Intensive Outpatient Programs
- Residential Rehab
- Medication-Assisted Therapy
- Holistic Options
- Twelve Steps Meetings
If your teenager is struggling with any kind of substance abuse problem – alcoholism, the misuse of prescription medications, or addiction to illicit drugs – Teensavers is ready to help. Contact Teensavers today to discuss your situation and get the answers you need.
by Albert Fontenot