12 Step Programs

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12 Step Programs and religion

12 Step Programs & Religion

The less religious someone is, the more they notice how prevalent the focus on God and religious symbolism is in AA. The word God appears 315 times in the Big Book of AA.

What makes the 12-step conception of religion unique is that every addict can use their spiritual conception. Since there is no specific dogma that guides belief, there is an infinite variety within the membership of the groups.

The Christian Background of AA

The first 12-step program was Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and it is very much a product of its time and place. Founded in a time when the United States was a very Christian and Protestant nation.

The two founders of the organization, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, were firm believers in Christianity and many of their ideas had blossomed out of religious-oriented seminars they had participated in. Not surprisingly, the basic AA literature is strongly influenced by these beliefs. When they refer to a Higher Power, they explicitly refer to God.

Another religious element in 12-step meetings is the “serenity prayer”:

“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.”

Although it does not contain material that is strictly Christian, it was written by an important theologian of that faith. However, the wisdom behind Dr. Rheinhold Niebuhr’s prayer transcends religion and belies a deeper universal truth.

However, the founders of AA were well aware that not all of the members of the fellowship are Christian and they wanted the program to work for everyone. Therefore, the original literature does not refer specifically to Christian doctrine, even if it does use that language extensively for cultural reasons.

12 Step Meeting for Heroin

12 Step Programs for Heroin Addiction Recovery

When it comes to the disease of addiction, finding a 12-step program is crucial to one’s physical, spiritual and emotional health. In many cases, it is a matter of life or death. For struggling addicts, 12-step programs are commonly used in order to help one arrest their addiction because there is no cure for this disease. Although there may not be a cure for drug addiction, recovery is possible within the rooms of 12-step meetings.

12-Step Programs

While there is no cure for drug addiction, it has proven to be a treatable and manageable disorder. 12-step programs are usually non profit organizations that come together in order to help individuals recover from their addiction. While Alcoholics Anonymous was the first 12-step program, many groups began forming after its founding in the 1930s and started addressing other problems, such as substance abuse and behavioral compulsions. Because there are so many different problematic areas, it is important to find a group that can specialize in the addiction that one is suffering from.

Do 12 Step Programs Work?

How Effective are 12-Step Programs?

Addiction can be incredibly difficult to overcome. It has psychological, physical, and spiritual components, and every individual experience it differently. Also, there are so many different types of addictions that can shatter the lives of those suffering.

There are a plethora of substances to which one can develop an addiction, from alcohol to organic plants, through narcotics, not to mention nicotine, and even readily available cleaning products and bath salts. Meanwhile, behavioral addictions can turn out to be just as debilitating. People report addictions to gambling, overeating, sex, and compulsive behavior such as hoarding.

Finally, every individual addict has a different genetic and psychological makeup. For some, addiction has a strong genetic component, passed on from generation to generation. For others, it can be a specific traumatic event or process they underwent earlier in life which sparked addiction. Meanwhile, for some, the cause is mostly physical. For them, addiction may be the result of a desire to numb significant physical pain.

Therefore, there is no one size fits all solution to addiction and no magic bullet which can cure every type of dependence.

Tips on How to be Successful in 12-Step Programs

Tips on How to be Successful in 12-Step Programs

Recovery is hard. There are many pitfalls and days when we feel weak and unable to handle it all. The good news is you are not on your own.

If you are part of a 12-step program, you have a support network to catch you when you fall. One of the great things about a 12-step program is that by helping others, you also make the most of it for yourself.

Here are some tips for making the most of your recovery in a 12-step program, and enjoying yourself in the process!

Get a Home Group

12-step programs are based on a belief in the power of being part of something bigger than us. Humans are social animals and we do not fare well alone. Our recovery and our lives in general, are greatly served by being part of a group that offers mutual support.

In order to succeed in a 12-step programs it is important to regularly attend meetings. But it is best to mostly attend the same group and build bonds with the other members.

Therefore, it is best to find a group that meets two criteria: they are located conveniently to help you attend meetings regularly. Just as importantly, you should feel comfortable with the people in that group. Once you have found that place where you belong, cherish it and hold on to it.

Nature as a Higher Power

The 12 Step Program “Higher Power”: What is it and how do you choose one?

The concept of having a Higher Power to guide us is an integral part of the 12-step vision of recovery. Indeed, six of the steps deal directly with the relationship between members and God. This concept serves a crucial purpose in the process. Recovery involves a realization that our own best judgment has derailed our lives and led us to an unmanageable state. To pursue a better path in the future, we humbly put our life path in the hands of greater power. This process is at the core of the first two-steps.

The program encourages not only belief in a Higher Power, but rather forming a spiritual relationship with that entity which is an integral part of our lives. Many of us fall into addiction and relapse because we feel powerless and lose our self-esteem. The cultivation of a daily relationship with our Higher Power can restore meaning to our lives. We do this through daily meditation and prayer. Prayer helps us talk to our Higher Power, while meditation helps us listen. This is the essence of step 11.

A deep spiritual connection with a Higher Power also helps alleviate some of the core causes of addiction: loneliness and isolation. The importance of this aspect of recovery cannot be stressed enough. Once the steps are completed, we know our place in the world and that our Higher Power cares for us. For many of us, knowing we are being watched over makes us feel part of something important. Knowing that we have a place in this world and that we aren’t alone can motivate us to quit drinking or using it. This can be a key part of recovery.

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