This article is the second in a series discussing the benefits of the 12-step method. Certainly, there are a number of various addiction treatment programs out there. And yet, because of the success of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community, it continues to be the means by which many men and women find sobriety.
The 12-step method provides a recovering addict with:
A mentor to facilitate change. When someone begins to attend meetings regularly, he or she is assigned a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can guide a sponsee through the 12 Steps. A sponsor is none other than a mentor; and mentors, no matter what area of life – career, health, school, spirituality, relationships, and sobriety – have proven to dramatically improve one’s ability to reach their goals. Some addiction treatment centers are now offering the opportunity to have a mentor as a part of their drug treatment aftercare – and for good reason. Mentors can be a guiding light, a hand to hold through fiery times, and a companion on the bridge to long-term sober living. You may already know that having a mentor can significantly boost your success, confidence, and ability to create life change, including your ability to sustain your sobriety outside of treatment. One of the reasons why having a mentor as part of drug treatment aftercare is so successful is because of the mentor-mentee relationship. In fact, when the sponsor/sponsee relationship is secure with a strong rapport, it can be the foundation upon which a newly sober individual can find hope, support, and faith in the process.
A community. An accepting community is essential for continued sobriety. For many, once they realize that they are not alone in the alcohol or drug recovery process, there’s hope. There’s hope that it’s possible to get sober, especially when at each meeting there are many others who have gotten sober and having maintained their sobriety for years. Furthermore, belonging to a group can heal that sense of separation, from others and from yourself. Being with others who are in recovery can provide you with a listening ear, honest feedback, and therapeutic experiences. For instance, hearing stories of those who share their feelings and fears that perhaps you are familiar with too but only when you hear it said out loud do you realize that you’ve experienced that too. In other words, relating to the stories of others can be incredibly healing for learning about yourself. It’s an extension of the best sober living experience described above – being welcome for all that you are, including your feelings, passions, and intensity. In this way, perhaps one of the greatest benefits of being in a community with others who are also maintaining their sobriety is the fact that it can be similar to group therapy. Recovering addicts can support one another by sharing personal stories and providing a level of support that family and friends who are not on the same path cannot. It’s common for AA meetings to be incredibly welcoming. Everyone there knows what it’s like to be at the beginning of recovery. It’s a tender place to be. Furthermore, many recovery addicts don’t ever lose that tenderness and vulnerability to relapse and having to start all over again. Having a community that is embracing and accepting can be the pivotal piece to one’s recovery.
In addition to the 12-step method there are programs like Moderation Management, LifeRing Secular Recovery, Rational Recovery, SMART Recovery, and the Harm Reduction model. There are many choices for someone who wants to achieve sobriety that meets his or her unique needs. Whether or not to include spirituality, a firm structure, and abstinence are important factors to consider when finding your own unique path in recovery.
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