It was the 1930’s and a group of men got together to discuss the problem of alcoholism. In the middle of the room, on the table, was a bottle of wine. This bottle was to serve as a reminder that alcohol is everyone in society and so easily accessible, especially to those who want to quit. That meeting was the first of millions to come across the globe. Today, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings can be found in every state and in many countries around the world.
AA meetings (and other meetings that address other types of addictions) follow the path of 12 steps. These 12-steps are essentially a program designed to assist the freedom from addiction. The steps include recognizing a powerlessness to substances, making amends with yourself and others, and establishing a connection with a higher power. Because of these components and more, AA has been incredibly successful and has facilitated sobriety in millions of people.
If you’re interested in incorporating the 12-steps in your recovery, here are some suggestions to do just that:
Attend regular AA meetings. Perhaps this is an obvious suggestion. AA meetings will focus on sobriety and give you an opportunity to meet others who are also using the 12 steps to stay sober. The AA community tends to refer to it as “working the steps”. So, in addition to having an hour or so of encouragement to stay sober, you’ll also get to know others who are using the same program to facilitate sobriety.
Get a sponsor. Another advantage to attending AA meetings on a regular basis is that you’ll be encouraged to get a sponsor. The role of a sponsor is to facilitate your journey through the 12-steps. Because he or she has this role, you’ll need to find someone who has much more experience in their sobriety than you do. In this way, you can learn, grow, and heal in your recovery. Someone with at least 2 years of sobriety can serve as a good sponsor. However, the more years of sobriety under their belt the better.
Work with a therapist that specializes in addiction. If you want more than just a sponsor, you might work with a professional trained in addiction and healing the mind. A therapist can facilitate insight, teach you coping tools, uncover contributing factors to your addiction, and also walk you through the 12 steps.
Attend an addiction treatment center that incorporates the 12 steps in their program. Many addiction treatment centers, outpatient centers, sober living homes, and other transitional living environments often include AA meetings and working the 12-step program. In fact, some centers require it of their residents. If you’re looking for an addiction treatment center, look for one that includes the 12-steps in their program.
Hire a sober mentor. Some people are adverse to working with therapist, perhaps feeling too exposed to one single person. If you’d rather keep your recovery focused on the present and not how the past influenced your addiction, you might hire a mentor. There are mentors that specifically work with those who have just come out of addiction treatment and who want to continue to have the extra support. It can be challenging to come out of treatment and suddenly lose the professional assistance that treatment provided. However, a mentor can facilitate working the 12-steps, keep your eye on sobriety, and give you the courage to continue facing the challenges you’re facing while sober.
If you’re looking for a way to make the 12-steps a part of your recovery, the above list may be helpful. However, if you would like additional support in working the 12-steps or in your recovery, contact a mental health provider in your neighborhood.
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