Addiction Treatment and The Twelve Steps

by Daniel · 0 comments

At some of these [steps] we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.
—Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., pg. 58 

Bill W. Bill W.

One of the biggest misnomers when looking into treatment for addiction is the idea that a treatment center is a “Twelve Step Program.” Truth be told, when it comes to addiction treatment, the term is “process” and not “program.” The “Program” refers to the mutual support groups that utilize the process that Bill Wilson, Doctor Bob and friends founded during the 1930’s. Treatment centers advertise or market themselves as “Non-Twelve Step” Programs or “Twelve Step” Programs, and that is deceitful marketing. Why? Because a treatment center may teach, or encourage their clients to embrace the “Twelve Step” approach or process, but they are not a “Twelve Step” or “Non-Twelve Step” program.

Treatment should consist of “Best Practices” i.e. a therapeutic clinical program that addresses all aspects of an individual’s life. Why all areas? Simply put, addiction is not just a physical ailment, it affects every aspect of life; physical (medical), mental, emotional, spiritual, social, vocational, and educational. A successful treatment program will address all of these areas as well.

Simply addressing the medical aspect of addiction is typically fruitless. “Detoxification (or “detox”) is medically supervised withdrawal from drugs with gradually reduced doses of medication to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It is short-term, usually lasting no more than 21 days. The goal is to reduce the medications slowly and discontinue them by the time the person is discharged. Research shows that without further support or treatment, medication assisted detoxification is not likely to result in long-term recovery. Relapse is common among people receiving less than 90 days of treatment.” SAMHSA

The Twelve Steps can be utilized to address many if not all areas of concern. Treatment Centers that dismiss the Steps are limiting the consumer’s tools and are typically doing so for “Marketing” purposes. They are appealing to past failure in AA or NA or the fear of “Religious” affiliation and frustration on the part of the consumer. Yes, the Twelve Steps as written are based upon the Judeo-Christian philosophy of “Atonement.” However, a deeper look into the steps will uncover the therapeutic basis and functionality of the process. A few years ago I wrote a therapeutic version of the steps to highlight the functionality of them, I have since made a couple of slight adjustments.

Step One:  Have you ever used a drug or drank alcohol knowing that there could be consequences or that there was significant risk involved, based upon your past experience?

Step Two:  At the basic level of recovery; do you believe that people before you have accomplished abstinence and recovery, and you have not been able to yet?

Step Three:  Can you copy the successful strategies that these same people have accomplished?  Are you willing to COPY them?

Step Four: We make a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves; where we address all personal and internal potential roadblocks within ourselves.  We look for any potential negative stressors, anxiety provokers, or sources of irrational fear that has the potential to set us off and back into negative self-destructive behavioral patterns.

Step Five: Admit to Ourselves and another Human Being of personal significance the exact nature of what we have uncovered in our Fourth Step.

Step Six:  By our actions and desire to live a productive life we become entirely ready to make better choices and become the positive and loving human beings we truly are.

Step Seven: We humbly seek reprieve from these burdens, by taking positive action in the direction of improving our lives.

Step Eight: We make a list of all the people, places and things that we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them.

Step Nine: We make direct amends to these people except where we could potentially cause more damage than good.  

Step Ten: We continue on our new path and take a daily personal inventory to monitor our progress and remain congruent with whom we are as “Human Becoming’s.”

Step Eleven: Seek through (Prayer and/or) Meditation to improve our continued growth spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Step Twelve:  Becoming who we have always been and dreamed of becoming, we realize the significant improvement in our lives as the result of these steps and principles.  We share and carry this spiritual message to others recognizing that we cannot keep it if we do not give it away.  Finally, we continue to practice these principles of discipline in all areas of our lives.

Rejecting the Twelve Steps due to a “Religious” perception of the steps, past failure(s) in AA, NA or other mutual support groups and or any other potentially uninformed reason is a mistake that may cost you or your loved one, their life! Clinical interventions are essential in “Rehab” but that is not the be-all end-all of treatment and recovery. Implementing new principles, daily disciplines, mutual support, and individual guidance into your recovering life is the most prudent and successful way to recover.

Life is Goooood!

Go, Go, Go…

Dan 🙂

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