Over the years, there have been many arguments against the 12-step method. One common one is that it’s too spiritual. It asks too much of someone who simply wants to end their substance use. And it teaches abstinence – no alcohol or drugs whatsoever – versus weaning off a drug slowly, such as in the harm-reduction model.
Certainly, these arguments are valid and as a result there have been many other alternative programs that have been created. However, there is reason why the 12-step model has lasted this long, why it’s become so popular around the world, and why it’s helped millions of people get sober and stay that way. This article series will review four primary reasons to consider the Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step method in recovery.
For instance, the 12-step model provides the following:
1. A clear path out of addiction. When someone who is still drinking or using drugs begins to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, they are encouraged to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. It’s the classic AA invitation to new recovering addicts. Anyone who wants to support their drug treatment experience should attend a meeting every day for the next three months. This kind of instruction is important. And someone who comes to an AA meeting for the first time and who has no idea what to do might welcome this kind of guidance. The instructions are clear: attend a meeting once a day every day for 90 days – and don’t use. That will get you on the right track. That will get you sober. And the truth is most people who want to stop using need that level of support to keep clean. Plus, someone who attends a meeting a day follows the AA maxim of “one day at a time”. In general, it’s best to make small steady changes towards a large goal. Just like starting a business, which is going to require many small action steps, the same is true for someone who wants to achieve sobriety. When large goals are broken down into smaller items, it can eventually add up to reaching the goal. The AA community provides this not only in their beginning instructions to a newly recovering addict, but also in their encouragement to stay sober one day at a time.
2. A structure to change your life. When someone is ready to stop using and they are attending meetings regularly, he or she is given a set of guidelines to follow. They are guidelines not only to end an addiction but to create a new lifestyle that does not include substance use. Each of the 12-steps have proven to be a path towards creating a great life change. When those who want to stay sober continue to practice the 12 steps on a daily basis, they can eventually find sobriety. The 12-steps are below:
Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
Step Two: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God
Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
Step Five: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
Step Seven: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Step Ten: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
The above are two primary arguments for the success of the 12-step method. Of course, anyone in recovery can choose what is right for his or her path. And there are a number of alternatives. If you’re considering the 12-step method, keep reading. The second part of this article series will provide two more arguments for using the 12-steps in your recovery.
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