Your Step-by-Step Guide to Making the Most of Your 12-Step Program
By: Cumberland Heights
12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have skyrocketed over the years as more people are finding the true realm of support and guidance that can be offered here. If you’re just starting our recovery journey– or have recently made the decision to begin attending 12-Step programs – it’s important to consider what type of commitment you need to make in order to reap the most benefits for your mental, physical and spiritual health.
Anyone can attend 12-Step meetings, but what are the differences that separate those who go on to build incredibly fulfilling lives, versus those who remain stuck in old, negative behavioral patterns? By learning more about what you can expect – and what it takes to succeed – you’ll be that much more confident in putting your best foot forward in recovery.
12-Step programs began as the foundation for guiding those in addiction recovery to lead more fulfilled, spiritual lives. These programs haven’t been altered from an alternative societal concern – they’re based specifically for these conditions. The 12-Steps as a whole meant to address the spiritual implications of addiction – the part of recovery that’s often hard for science and medicine to address in clear, distinctive ways.
The 12-Steps themselves are straight-forward, yet difficult to implement at times. The following is a quick breakdown of each step, put simply:
- Honesty – admitting that we have a problem
- Faith that a Higher Power can help us
- Choosing to surrender to something bigger than ourselves
- Beginning to discover oneself
- Building integrity
- Accepting character defects
- Humility by accepting the need for a Higher Power
- Willingness to make amends
- Understanding a Higher Power
- Serving others
The first step, for instance, requires that those in recovery admit they’re powerlessness over their addiction – and in doing that, individuals admit that the basis of humanity: that nobody’s perfect and that we simply can’t control everything, even if we’d like to. Writer Mike Sturm wrote for Medium last year that it’s about dedicating yourself something greater – a greater purpose through God or another Higher Power that helps those in recovery find the strength to push through in recovery. He stated,
“If you are self-centered, self-serving and self-involved, the odds of actually becoming a better person are pretty low. Rather, devoting yourself to service – serving someone or something bigger than just your own desires – not only will the rewards be greater, but the motivation will be more persistent.”
A problem that many people face in 12-Step programs, however, is the continuation of participation. It’s a common myth that attending only one meeting every now and then will still lead a person to reach many benefits in recovery; the reality, however, is that the amount of effort and persistence a person places on their 12-Step program dictates how much they gain from it altogether.
Tips for Success in 12-Step Programs
If you’re ready to make the most of the program, consider the following steps:
- Never miss a meeting (if you can help it)
- Always participate in discussions, even if you don’t feel like it
- Get to know other people in your program
- Learn more about your potential sponsor before officially asking them – and once you do, create expectations and guidelines for how the relationship will work
- Attend 12-Step retreats, social gatherings and service projects when possible
- “Work” the 12-Steps outside of the program
- Rely on your peers and recovery leader if you have doubts, concerns or questions regarding whatever step you’re working on
- Understand that there’s no “quick fix” in recovery – it takes a lifetime of dedication for a person to fully embrace abstinence and mental, physical and spiritual health in life; however, there does come a point in time when stability and maintenance can be reached
Integrating the 12-Steps into Your Program
Previous studies have shown that 12-Step programs work incredibly well alongside official treatment programs; the social support, group discussions and added resources tend to lend well to the more formal component of treatment. As Henry Ford once stated,
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”
If you’d like to become involved in 12-Step programs alongside receiving high-quality care from a healthcare team at Cumberland Heights, speak with a professional today.
Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program located in Kingston Springs that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966, and is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998