12 Step Programs: Recovery Support Systems and Group Therapy

My Testimony


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Wikipedia defines a 12-Step Program as, “a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion and other behaviors (Wiki, 2017).


Different 12 Step Programs Available

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous, as the name would suggest, focuses exclusively on alcoholism. It was the first 12 Step Program and was initially formed in 1935. Alcoholics Anonymous published their eponymous book in 1939 and with its publication, the 12 Steps were introduced to the masses. AA meetings can be found in over 170 countries and it is reported that there are over 2 million members.

Al-Anon/Alateen

Al-Anon wasn’t officially founded until 1951, but it got its start around the time that Alcoholics Anonymous started. Al-Anon is a fellowship whose goal is to help relatives or friends of people who suffer from alcoholism or addiction. They incorporate the 12 Steps into their program and they focus on learning to heal from the damage caused by a loved one’s addiction and learning to detach in a healthy way from that person.

Alateen is the Al-Anon program directed at teenagers, usually ones whose parents’ have a problem with alcohol or drugs. It offers the same support as Al-Anon but directed at a younger audience.

Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous got its start in 1953 in California. It was initially an offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous but with the focus on drug addiction rather than alcoholism. Early members found that being in a setting where there was homogeneity of usage seemed to be more helpful for them in overcoming their illness. In 1982 they published Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text and today there are NA meetings in 139 countries throughout the world.

Cocaine Anonymous

Cocaine Anonymous is one of the largest of the 12 Step based fellowships that focus on specific drugs. Cocaine Anonymous was started in 1982 and they use the book Alcoholics Anonymous in their fellowship. Like all of the other fellowships listed, they employee the tenets of the 12 Steps in order to help their members overcome their addiction to cocaine.

Gamblers Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous is a 12 Step fellowship for people who have an addiction to gambling. It is not commonly known how destructive an addiction to gambling can be. People often lose their homes, their families, their careers, etc., due to this addiction and it is estimated that over 1 million Americans have a gambling addiction. Gamblers Anonymous is smaller than AA or NA but it can still be found in over a dozen countries.

Overeaters Anonymous

Overeaters Anonymous uses the same Steps in order to address problems with food, such as compulsive overeating, under-eating, food addiction, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or over exercising. Overeaters Anonymous was started in 1960 in California and today, meetings can be found in more than 80 countries, with around 54,000 members. It has helped countless people regain control of their eating disorder and saved thousands of lives.

Sex Addicts Anonymous

Sex Addicts Anonymous was founded in 1977 in order to help those who had an addiction to sexual behavior. Sex Addicts Anonymous is interesting because celibacy is not necessary in order for the Steps to be worked, but rather members created their own definition of what sexual sobriety means to them, based off of their personalized list of compulsive sexual behaviors.

Adult Children of Alcoholics

Adult Children of Alcoholics got its start in 1973 in Long Island, New York. It differs from Al-Anon and Alateen in that its focus is to help individuals recover from the effects that are often produced from growing up in an alcoholic household. There are an estimated 40,000 members in ACOA, but as they state this is only a small percentage of the possible 300,000,000 adult children of alcoholics worldwide.

Programs patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous

Fellowships in this section follow reasonably close variations of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

They have every type of meeting. I myself have been to CoDa…codependents anonymous. Then they have Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, overeaters, gamblers, hell,I even saw a group called underearners anonymous. lol.


Alcoholics Anonymous

The first 12 step meeting was initiated by two alcoholics seeking freedom from their addiction. Dr. Bob and Bill W. started the program of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939. It started off as a tiny group of men that would get together and talk about coping with their addiction on life terms. They came because they had a common problem. They came to find a solution.

Originally entitled,”A story of how 100 men recovered from Alcoholism,” the book which we have termed, The big Book”, establishes a set of spiritual principles, by which we must live in order to rid ourselves of our past behaviors and alcoholism. The book was published in 1939.


The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

The relative success of the AA program seems to be due to the fact that an alcoholic who no longer drinks has an exceptional faculty for “reaching” and helping an uncontrolled drinker.

In simplest form, the AA program operates when a recovered alcoholic passes along the story of his or her own problem drinking, describes the sobriety he or she has found in AA, and invites the newcomer to join the informal Fellowship.

The heart of the suggested program of personal recovery is contained in Twelve Steps describing the experience of the earliest members of the Society:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Newcomers are not asked to accept or follow these Twelve Steps in their entirety if they feel unwilling or unable to do so.

They will usually be asked to keep an open mind, to attend meetings at which recovered alcoholics describe their personal experiences in achieving sobriety, and to read AA literature describing and interpreting the AA program.

AA members will usually emphasize to newcomers that only problem drinkers themselves, individually, can determine whether or not they are in fact alcoholics.

At the same time, it will be pointed out that all available medical testimony indicates that alcoholism is a progressive illness, that it cannot be cured in the ordinary sense of the term, but that it can be arrested through total abstinence from alcohol in any form.


HOW IT WORKS
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do
not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program,
usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of be ing honest with themselves.
There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that
way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which
demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer
from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the
capacity to be honest.
Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and
what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to
any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps.
At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we
could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough
from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was
nil until we let go absolutely.
Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is
too much for us. But there is One who has all power—that One is God. May you find Him
now!
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection
and care with complete abandon.
Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become
unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
understood Him.
(OVER)
P-10.qxp_P-10_howitworks.qxd 11/16/16 12:56 PM Page 1
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of
our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends
to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so
would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted
it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the
power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this
message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.’’ Do not be discouraged.
No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these
principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.
The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather
than spiritual perfection.
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventuresOur description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures
before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
Reprinted from the book Alcoholics Anonymous ®

Resources and Literature:

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting Schedule
  2. Literature
  3. Sponsorship and AA
  4. What is a homegroup?


Narcotics Anonymous

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In 1953, attendance to the AA meetings was thriving and growing as did public awareness. Jimmy K. and others founded Narcotics Anonymous in 1953. There are not many differences between the AA program and the NA program (NA.org. 2016). Like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous wrote a “manual,” if you will. The Step-working guide in NA was modeled off of the Big Book in AA. Jimmy K. and others, in forming the group that we know as Narcotics Anonymous today, wrote a book that serves as the equivalent of the Big Book to Alcoholics. In Narcotics Anonymous the name of the book is The Basic Text. They devised a set of 12 steps to work while progressing through the recovery process. Each step reflects spiritual principles. Three of the spiritual principles that are crucial to recovery are; Honesty, Open Mindedness and willingness.

After 1939, up through the seventies, the Alcoholics Anonymous group produced some literature. Also, the twelve traditions of Narcotics Anonymous and The Step- Working guide that goes with it .

  • AA Big Book, Steps and Traditions
  • NA Basic Text The Basic Text: 6th edition
  • Daily meditation; Just for Today
  • Step Working Guide
  • How it Works: A supplemental guide to Writing your Steps

    February 5
    Keep Coming Back!

    “We are grateful that we were made so welcome at meetings that we felt comfortable.”

    Basic Text p. 80
    Remember how scared we were when we walked into our first NA meeting? Even if we walked in with a friend, most of us recall how difficult it was to attend that first meeting. What was it that kept us coming back? Most of us have grateful memories of the welcome we were given and how comfortable that made us feel. When we raised our hand as a newcomer, we opened the door for other members to approach us and welcome us.

    Sometimes the difference between those addicts who walk back out the door of their first meeting, never to return to NA, and the addicts who stay to seek recovery is the simple hug of an NA member. When we have been clean awhile, it’s easy to step back from the procession of newcomers�after all, we’ve seen so many people come and go. But members with some clean time can make the difference between the addict who doesn’t return and the addict who keeps coming back. By offering our phone numbers, a hug, or just a warm welcome, we extend the hand of Narcotics Anonymous to the addict who still suffers.

    Just for today: I remember the welcome I was given when I first came to NA. Today, I will express my gratitude by offering a hug to a newcomer.

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