12 Step Recovery News

12 Step Recovery News

The Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step model is widely spread across the world. More than 1.3 million members in Alcoholics Anonymous have created a global sobriety community.

The History of the 12-Steps

Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) started in 1935, by founder Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob who outlined their experience and ideas of alcoholism. Among others, a friend wrote about the positive impact alcoholics had upon people's lives.

AA has a documented how the program and spiritual foundation comes together in the book titled "Alcoholics Anonymous" and referred to by AA members as "The Big Book". The Big Book offers history, stories of recovering alcoholics and most importantly exactly how to "work the steps".

Psychologists and psychiatrists, trained to provide cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy to treat patients with alcohol-use disorder, can have a hard time admitting that the lay people who run AA groups do a better job of keeping people sober.

Facilitate Engagement

The only requirement for membership in a the AA program is the desire to stop drinking, in the NA program it is to stop using.

Alcoholics Anonymous Step Facilitation

In essence the 12-step program covers specific issues by maintaining complete abstinence and systematically addressing and applying the twelve steps in all our affairs.

In AA participation to stay sober you will address step facilitation usually with a sponsor. The terms that are synonymous with the twelve steps are:

  • higher power - finding a higher power you believe in is important in step work. Concerns over the word God from many individuals are over come by applying other thoughts and other interventions to find like minded people and similarities one can relate to.

  • personal inventory and fearless moral inventory - a person takes stocks of the good and bad character traits and writes them down to share with god, themselves and another human being

  • all these defects of character - this is where someone recognizes how their alcohol or drug addiction led them astray. They begin to repair the damage they have caused believing they are entirely ready and has humbly asked to have god remove said defects

  • direct amends is made and a new relationship with a power greater than themselves is relied upon

  • when wrong promptly admitted - this is a vital part of applying the principals of the twelve step philosophy

Does AA have Patients?

No AA offers social support via fellowship. The AA support groups are vastly varied so an individual can find the best support group they are most comfortable.

What is the effectiveness of 12 steps?

A significant question is the effectiveness of the 12 steps. Do the 12 steps achieve helping alcoholics who drink too much or have an alcohol use disorder stop drinking? Can the 12 steps allow such people to have a spiritual awakening, learn the exact nature of their disorder and changes their lives?

According to the Cochrane Review:

The authors found high certainty evidence that clinically delivered and manualized Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF) programs designed to increase AA participation can lead to higher rates of continuous abstinence over months and years, when compared to other active treatment approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Abstinence rates are not scientifically rigorous. All research is based solely on self reporting, findings regarding attendance at meetings or loose outcomes from aa participation while in a treatment program.

The 12 steps are designed to help a person maintain abstinence from alcohol or drugs. Although the twelve-step philosophy may not be suited for everyone, it can help those who are dealing with addiction to substances acquire new coping abilities.

SMART Recovery an Alternative to the Twelve Step Model

SMART recovery and moderation management use a peer-sharing approach and don't believe in surrender or a conscious contact with a higher power. Instead, SMART recovery supports a person to take control over their addictive behavior.

The treatment for an alcohol use disorder will be left to the person and therapist leaving the twelve steps out of the equation Emotional support is found in peer to peer interactions or online.

Government Programs and Addiction Treatment

Currently, Medicare and Medicaid provide subsidized treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. In most states eligibility is decided, and the sum is allocated. Some treatment centers will not accept Medicaid or Medicare as payments. Several state-funded alcohol rehabilitation programs provide short-term rehabilitation based primarily on detoxification, and some provide long-term treatment incorporating residential care.

Support Groups

It is possible for someone to engage in AA and self-help support groups and mutually beneficial activities to address alcohol use disorders with meditative exercises and to have an individualized recovery plan.

Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), Narcotic Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA), and many more have served as primary sources of change in utilizing adjunct behavioral sciences and therapies.

Elizabeth R. Spallin Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Recovery Research Institute said, “Alcohol use disorder can be devastating for individuals and their families and it presents a significant, worldwide, costly public health problem. Alcoholics Anonymous is a well-known, free, mutual-help fellowship.

In AA meetings a person can discuss their experiences with other members and may also assist them in maintaining the abstinence process. Abstinence habits can cause an increase in what some experts call flourishing, positive mental health and can improve long-term recovery.

How can a social worker or a behavioral healthcare professional help?

A social worker or a behavioral healthcare professional may have encountered people suffering from substance use disorders in various practices other than their specialty of treatment. Community-based resource services are usually available. AA has offices in most major cities and is just a phone call away.

Spiritual Awakening

Part of the spiritual principles in alcoholics anonymous is doing 12 step calls. This is when someone calls the local AA office and asks for a member with knowledge to pay a visit or call the person with addiction.

The mental health is priority for the person making a 12 step call. The sober life and commitment to the principles of AA includes paying it forward and answering the call for help.

Readiness and Expectations

Addiction clients connecting or being matched to the suitable 12-Step program might depend on their readiness and expectation.

Some have experienced 12-Step groups and are aware of how they operate and the expectations like meeting attendance and getting a sponsor. However, people that do not know 12-Step groups could benefit someone recovering from addiction accompanying them to a meeting.

If someone is involved in health care and seeking a new life with out using or drinking, it is best to share information about the AA self-help group and have the phone numbers available for that region.

Evidence-based 12-Step Interventions

When a person enters a rehab facility for the first time, it is often a shock to know outside AA meetings are part of the curriculum. The effectiveness in guiding a patient or client to 12-step meetings or involvement in 12-step recovery activities is best handled by peers that have had a good experience.

The Path to Recovery

The path to recovery is individualized for each individual. Research and evidence based treatment programs are the best way for lasting recovery. Depending upon the level of care for addiction treatment most patients are very active in the treatment process.

Working with an addiction counselor can help you find the best method of rehabilitation.

Final Thoughts

It is free to attend meetings. Treatment centers are not for everyone, that said, they can be quite helpful in starting a person with an alcohol use disorder on the road to recovery.

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