A Quick Guide To 12-Step Programs

Anyone entering recovery or anyone who has a loved one entering recovery will be informed of the importance of adding any 12-step fellowship to you or your loved ones’ recovery program. For those of you who may not have any experience with a 12-step recovery program, the only knowledge you may have could be because of Sandra Bullock in 28 days or the cast from Thanks for Sharing. If you haven’t seen those movies, then you may not know what to expect. Recovery and treatment are already an overwhelming process, knowing what to expect from 12-step programs might make things a little easier. The following is a quick guide as to what to expect.

A 12-step program simply put is a group of people that follow a specific 12-step guideline on how to recover from any kind of addiction. The most popular 12-step programs are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). However, there are 12-step programs for almost any kind of addiction or affliction out there. 12-step groups typically meet for weekly meetings to share anything that is going on with its members. At these groups people may share a hug or a handshake. Some of them are intimidating to walk into but for the most part everyone is there to try and get help from whatever is plaguing them. They may ask you to introduce yourself to the other members just, so they can be familiar with new members that might be joining their meeting for the first time. It is important to remember that everyone is there for the same purpose and there is no need to be embarrassed or overwhelmed.

In these groups you will hear terms like sponsorship, Higher Power, fellowship, and service. These are the basis on which most 12-step programs are formed and continue to operate under. Sponsorship or a sponsor very simply put is a person there to guide you thru the 12 steps of the fellowship. This is someone who may ask you to call them or meet with them to begin going thru the 12 steps. A Higher Power may be a cause for concern for some people. Remember that a Higher Power can be defined as God or any other power that is bigger then the disease of addiction or the person suffering from that disease. Some people use the groups or something such as nature to define their Higher Power if they struggle with the concept of God. Fellowship is simply the group of people that surround you at these meetings and make up the 12-step groups. People use the term fellowship to define “meetings after the meetings” where people may get together for coffee and talk about how they are doing and overcoming their addiction. Finally, service is the foundation of the program. Remembering that the disease of addiction is self-centered and driven off selfishness the only way to combat that is to remain in service toward others. This may be simply making coffee at the meeting or being of service to your community. Remaining in service is important to any person living in a program of recovery.

Knowing what to expect can make entering a 12-step program easier for yourself or understanding what a loved one is going thru. Understanding that within the first 90 days any 12-step program will suggest making what is called a “90 in 90” meaning that you should be attending a meeting daily for your first 90 days in treatment. The hope for all who enter a 12-step program and really make the commitment, especially in those first 90 days is that you remain open minded and find some reprieve and hopefully a solution to your problems. Show up, ask for help, continue to pray. There are people here to help!

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