When rehab is mentioned, most people immediately think of the 12-step program. Although these groups are most often associated with alcoholism, the 12-step program can be used to address any addiction. While 12-step programs have drawn their share of criticism, millions of people have overcome their addictions in AA and similar programs. From people who simply have trouble saying no to a drink to those who show symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when they don’t drink, 12-step programs have helped many people overcome addiction. For many of the same reasons, the AA/12-step program works for me.
You make the Diagnosis
If someone else tells you you’re an alcoholic, your immediate reaction is defensiveness. With a 12-step program, you can attend a meeting, listen to the stories of others, and decide whether their stories are similar to yours. By doing this, you overcome some of the denial about your addiction.
You meet others who are experiencing the same thing
The concept behind a 12-step group is that belonging to a group of individuals who are going through the same struggle makes you feel stronger. When dealing with addiction, the most common reaction is to deal with it by yourself. Addiction can be a very isolating disease and these groups allow you to reach out to others and ask for help.
You see that recovery is possible
Seeing and speaking with others who have overcome their addiction (or addictions) is not only empowering, but it can give you the confidence you need to change your life. You learn that those who succeeded didn’t do anything out of the ordinary; they simply followed the principles of the 12-step program. If they did it, you can too.
You can learn from hearing other’s recovery techniques
The members of your 12-step group are a vast resource of advice and coping techniques. By listening as speaking to people who have been through the same things you can find out how they coped with certain situations and get ideas from people who have been there. You can also reassure yourself through them that what you’re feeling and experiencing is normal.
There is no judgment
Addicts often find sharing their emotions difficult. This is, in part, because they fear that no one will understand them and in part because they fear criticism and judgment. Keeping all these feelings and emotions bottled up makes it even more difficult to stop using. The members of a 12-step group are very non-judgmental because they’ve heard it before; they’ve probably done it before. They know that you aren’t a bad person because of the things that you did while using and you will be reassured that you aren’t the only person ever to have acted this way.
There are many more benefits to 12-step programs and while they don’t work for everyone, they certainly work for many people. One thing to remember is that you need to find the right group for you. Each group is different and you’ll like some and dislike some. Each has its own personality and if you feel that you don’t fit in your chances of recovery are lessened. Try different groups until you find one that is comfortable rather than just choosing the most convenient. One of the beauties of these groups is that there is a vast number to choose from and finding one that you connect with is not very difficult.