Overcoming any substance abuse disorder can seem like trying to ascend the steepest mountain cliff. When we attempt to overcome alcohol or drug problems alone, we invariably become increasing more demoralized by failures to stay clean and sober.
Across many states, like in New Jersey, not all treatment center programs follow 12-step recovery models exactly. However, hundreds of alcohol and drug treatment facilities do maintain strong roots in the 12-step philosophy. Here’s why.
Basic 12-Step Program Theory
The basic principles used in a 12-step program are usually attributed to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. A pair of drunks based their successful recovery on a series of suggested ideas. They practiced these steps on a day-to-day basis to stay sober.
The model worked. These steps were incorporated in a now world-renowned book. Literally millions of recovering addicts and alcoholics have read and reread the 12-step philosophy proposed more than 80 years ago in the A.A. Big Book.
Since Dr. Bob and Bill W. laid the groundwork for 12-step recovery ideas, dozens of self-help and personal development strategies have used all or parts of this 12-step philosophy. A few words and directives have been altered to meet individual circumstances.
However, the 12 core ideas remain fairly consistent. The idea is to realize the hopelessness of a situation, appreciate we cannot overcome it by ourselves, so we try as best we can to follow a series of suggestions to improve gradually over our lifetimes.
Why 12-Step Theories Work
Literally millions of stories tell of those among us who have tried valiantly to overcome alcoholism or drug addiction via our own mental and emotional willpower. The paths of recovery are littered with such heartbreaking failures.
One key part of a traditional 12-step recovery model targets this frequently unrealistic, over exaggerated notion of willpower. A foundation of the traditional 12-step program is to gain a sense of power through the act of surrendering this willpower.
This seems to be the epitome of an oxymoron. Give something up to get something seems like a questionable idea to say the least. The underlying thought that many addictive behaviors cannot be overcome, regardless of how much we bombard them with personal willpower, is a vital notion to accept.
This is probably why the 12-step approach has endured successfully for decades, successfully helping people deal with a multitude of seemingly insurmountable problems. Recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, overeaters, obsessive gamblers and the like, put destructive behavior behind them.
They begin by acknowledging there is a problem, realize that repeatedly using the same fatefully unsuccessful strategies to fix it is rather insane, and appreciate they need help. The rest of the 12-step theory is really a sort of guide for personal improvement.
Talking to others, finding a source of power greater than ourselves, and holding ourselves accountable for poor behavior are lifelong tools. Clearly, these tools can be applied to just about any human dilemma, which revolves around obsessive and compulsive behaviors such as alcoholism or drug addiction.
Many uninformed people falsely assume that the 12-step philosophy is somehow attached to religion because of the reference to the word God. Millions who have overcome destructive addictive behaviors collectively crack a subtle smile.
It simply isn’t necessary to use some type of religious dogma to create a belief in a greater power. Funny are the stories of those in recovery who started out with a tree as a higher source.
The key is to find something to offset the failed attempts to use our own willpower to kick the alcohol or drug abuse habit. Frequently, that power is the family we discover during our time at a treatment center, whether the format is 12-step based or not.
Many treatment centers follow a 12-step philosophy, even if only in a generalized format. The key is to find a series of workable suggestions that can guide us along a journey towards an ultimate objective; to stay off the booze and the drugs.
The just-for-one-day concept can make any series of recovery steps more manageable. However, that first step needs to be taken. It is the smallest step of all, but sometimes it can seem like the hardest.
It is a step everyone on the road of recovery made at one time or another. This seems so simple, but tragically far too many never take it. It is the step in recovery that realizes we need help. If you feel you might have a problem with drugs or alcohol, make the call to ask for help.
The streets of broken dreams, jails, mental health facilities and cemeteries are tragically filled with souls who failed to take this one vital step. Ask for help today, because tomorrow might be too late. Give us a call at 833-610-1174.