Tag Archives: 12-Step Programs

Tag Archives: 12-Step Programs


5 mistakes to avoid during 12-Step programs

There have been so many success stories published from those who’ve worked the 12-Steps in their addiction recovery – and while every person’s journey is different, all of these stories have an underlying similarity: hard work. The way you perceive your recovery is what will have the greatest influence in the long run, so it’s time to assess your expectations about recovery to see if they align with reality.

In the early stages of dependency, feeling connected to a 12-Step program can be challenging. A sense of belonging hasn’t fully developed and a deep understanding of the importance of the program hasn’t totally settled in. It can be easy to disregard the 12-Steps and not pay the program, or people in the program, proper respect.

Take a look at the following mistakes that many people make in recovery when it comes to the 12-Steps:

  1. Do you believe that your 12-Step program serves as a “quick fix”?
  2. Have you been missing meetings in your 12-Step program because you feel that you can “get by” without attending all of them?
  3. Are you holding back from participating in your 12-Step meetings because you believe that simply “showing up” will be enough?
  4. Have you been abusing substances and showing up to your meetings, with the belief that being high or intoxicated doesn’t have an effect on your progress because you’re still attending?
  5. Is there strong doubt in the back of your mind that everything you’re learning in your 12-Step program isn’t really going to help you?

If you can say ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s time to re-evaluate where you’re at in your recovery. Last year, Very Well Mind, a website that publishes information related to psychology and disorders, stated that,

“Many members of 12-Step recovery programs have found that these steps were not merely a way to stop drinking, but they became a guide toward a new way of life.”

Sobriety is a lifestyle, and you have to fully apply what you learn as you work through the 12-Steps to every aspect of your life. Not doing so could be holding you back in recovery.

Cumberland Heights in Nashville, Tennessee on Music Row is a 12-Step based alcohol & drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. We offer personalized assessments and treatment plans, as well as convenient evening hours to accommodate your workday schedule. To get started on your recovery journey today, call us at 1-800-646-9998.

A guide to recognizing spirituality and self care while in addiction recovery

12-Step programs – such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – serve as a strong foundation for many in recovery. They provide clear steps and spiritual guidance that have helped thousands find their place in the world – alongside building a network of supportive people and a life that’s more fulfilling. Self-care is essential in daily life, but those in addiction recovery have often neglected self-care for quite a long time. Whether you’ve just begun your journey to recovery or you’re considered taking that courageous step towards treatment, it’s important to explore self-care and how it connects to 12-Step programs; because although it’s not talked about as often, there are many links there.

What is Self-Care?

There are many definitions of well-being; Yoga International defines self-care as,

“…what happens when you meet yourself as you are, and where you are”.

When we practice self-care, we’re recognizing that we’re human – and that as human beings, we don’t always have the ability to control what happens to or around us. Instead, we can acknowledge that we’re going to make mistakes – and by doing this, we can start taking steps towards making our lives more fulfilling as we can direct our focus up (to God or another Higher Power) and out (to our community).

In 2018, The Fix, a website that publishes relevant information on addiction and recovery, noted that when addiction is active, we’re more likely to neglect our personal mental, physical and spiritual health. Addiction is a disease that progresses and reels us in as we go – and with it, we may lose parts of ourselves even for a brief moment, along with relationships, jobs, money and more. They recommend the following exercises to implement self-care in recovery:

  1. Writing about how you’re feeling. Get a journal and start keeping track of your thoughts, moods and overall feelings about yourself, your life and your recovery. These brief moments of writing will help you release any pent-up anger, sadness or stress you may be feeling – and, over time, they can also serve as a way to observe patterns in your behavior so that you can take steps to ease your journey.
  2. Taking time to be alone. Addiction often brings people who abuse substances together – but all that substance use does is take us away from the present moment. Spend some time in recovery sitting alone and just breathing. Mindfulness is a beautiful practice that can truly change your life if you embrace slowing down and simply being.
  3. Taking breaks from technology. It’s easy to get caught up in other people’s lives – especially if it feels like there’s more time to relax in recovery. At Cumberland Heights, however, you’ll be involved in a schedule with a lot of activities to keep you focused on your recovery goals – and you’ll find that it’s a nice break from technology.
  4. Move your body. Nutrition and exercise are vital components of wellbeing. As you work towards your physical health, you’ll want to get moving – even if it’s just a walk – so that you can start embracing how wonderful it feels to participate in life at a steady pace.
  5. Connect with others. Previous research has shown just how important it is to build a strong support system, and Cumberland Heights can provide you with many opportunities to do this.

12-Step Programs and Self-Care: What You Need to Know

12-Step programs are made to integrate self-care through weekly meetings and updates. By talking about the problems we’re experiencing and connecting with others, we’re doing a number of self-care acts:

  • We’re relating to others, which builds our sense of community
  • We’re opening up about our problems, which relieves stress
  • We’re problem-solving, which enhances our lives
  • We’re adopting new perspectives which shape the way we lead our lives
  • And more

Several years ago, a study was published in the Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment which assessed 12-Step program effectiveness alongside treatment programs. Researchers found that individuals who participated in 12-Step programs with regular treatment were more likely to remain active participants in their recovery; the 12-Step philosophy encourages people to look beyond themselves and into something much greater. From here, it becomes not only an act of self-care – but acts of care towards a Higher Power and one’s community, too.

Accountability is a highlighted component of 12-Step programs, and they remind us that not only are we not alone but that our actions do have an effect on others. Self-care then becomes part of relapse prevention and daily maintenance, as we attend 12-Step meetings, eat healthily, maintain contact with our sponsor, and participate in other recovery programs to feel continuously uplifted.

Seek Help Today


If you’re ready to push past addiction and build a life that’s fulfilling, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first. For more information, call 1-800-646-9998 today.

Woman making the most out of her 12-Step Program

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 Expectations

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:

  1. Honesty – admitting that we have a problem
  2. Faith that a Higher Power can help us
  3. Choosing to surrender to something bigger than ourselves
  4. Beginning to discover oneself
  5. Building integrity
  6. Accepting character defects
  7. Humility by accepting the need for a Higher Power
  8. Willingness to make amends
  9. Forgiveness
  10. Maintenance
  11. Understanding a Higher Power
  12. 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

Transitioning from residential treatment to outpatient treatment recovery

Outpatient treatment is explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as a program that can be quite comparable to residential treatment – but those recovering from substance abuse will find there’s more independence, and the nature of the program may vary depending on a person’s individual needs. Outpatient treatment is a beautiful stepping stone for many who want to transition from residential treatment to something that provides them with less supervision – because they want to be able to return home and to start picking up responsibilities in a “normal life”. If you’re ready to begin an intensive outpatient treatment program, you’ll find there are many components that can make you stronger in recovery:

  • Ongoing 12-Step programs
  • Weekly individual and group meetings
  • Case management
  • And more

In addition to this, you’ll be able to return home each day while being able to actively participate in recovery processes that reinforce your goals. There are some major hurdles you’ll experience along the way, though – because with every major transition, there are going to be aspects that take some time to adjust to.

Common Hurdles of The Outpatient Treatment Transition

A publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains that engagement can be challenging for those in outpatient treatment programs, and in several ways not unique to the program itself:

Personal issues – such as health problems, psychological concerns, motivational status, etc.

Issues with others – problems at home with a significant relationship, family dynamic, support system and others

Societal concerns – cultural differences, fear of stigma and more

Structural implications – treatment policies and procedures may be different from what a person is used to

These particular issues can challenge a person’s ability to attend treatment programs, engage in them or otherwise maintain them over time. In addition to these broad, sweeping concerns that can weigh heavily on a person trying to succeed in outpatient treatment, there are other, more natural hurdles to consider upon entering this type of program:

Home environment – a person needs to ensure that upon their return home, they will have no triggers (such as living in a hostile environment, coming home to other friends or family members who are using drugs, etc.) so they can succeed in meeting their recovery goals

Social support – for optimal recovery, a person truly needs a strong support system at home; people who will be there for them through the good and bad times, and individuals who will not bring them backwards in their goal of sobriety is incredibly important

Discipline – outpatient treatment programs are different from residential programs because there’s much less monitoring and supervision. A person must feel ready to implement the lifestyle they’ve developed in treatment at home, too.

Transportation – with greater independence comes greater responsibilities, and part of outpatient treatment is ensuring that you have a car or other mode of transportation to get you to your recovery activities on time

Responsibilities – work hours, child support and other responsibilities need to be arranged beforehand so a person can carry out their treatment program with as minimal of issues as possible

Overcoming Barriers to Treatment

Despite all of these issues that can arise throughout treatment, there are just as many ways for a person to succeed and overcome these obstacles. First and foremost, communication is essential – if you speak with your support network at Cumberland Heights, you’ll be able to identify these barriers and find ways to work through them alongside people who care. A 2017 study published in The American Journal on Addictions found that motivational interviewing – an approach used in therapy to help a person identify the benefits/negatives of seeking and maintaining help – was greatly beneficial in increasing a person’s engagement in outpatient treatment. Rely on your support team – they’re there to help you push through these barriers and find ways of motivating yourself in recovery.

In addition to communication, organization is essential to ensuring all details are checked off the list for your entrance to the treatment program. Speak with friends, family and managers at your job well before you begin your outpatient treatment program so you can have these responsibilities handled (such as who is picking up the kids, what days you will go into work and what days you will need off, how you’re going to get to treatment and back each week, etc.). Lastly, and most importantly – don’t give up.

Everyone has issues they’re dealing with, but you’ll find that you’re more confident and stable than you’ve ever been once you’re at a good pace in outpatient treatment. This type of program is intensive, but it still provides you with everything you need to continue following the path towards the life you’ve always wanted.

Cumberland Heights in Crossville Tennessee is a 12-Step based outpatient alcohol and drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals age 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. If you’re ready to seek help today, call us at 931-250-5200.

Learning to overcome obstacles in sobriety with 12-Step programs

There is so much ambiguity about what the future holds, and recovery requires that we take a giant leap into the unknown. Whether you’ve been sober for 1 month or 1 year, you’ll find that obstacles will always come and go; while it can be an incredibly nerve wracking experience, the reality is that everyone is trying to navigate a journey that isn’t always predictable. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions explains that even communities as a whole face obstacles such as access to treatment, access to other professionals, access to peer support groups and barrier to confidentiality – but what about individuals specifically in recovery?

There’s no doubt that you’ll run into obstacles throughout your recovery, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t face them. With so many ways to manage and work through these obstacles – and with so many people ready to support you, you’re only one step away from getting closer towards your goals.

Obstacles Faced in Recovery

Just as each person is different, there are unique obstacles every person faces as they explore the journey to sobriety. In 2017, writer Emma Miah wrote for Your Story – a website that publishes various stories of triumph and news from around the world. She identified several obstacles, such as:

Fear of change

The ongoing pattern of addiction can become comforting over time, as a person has relied on substances to ease them at various times or situations in their lives. Recovery entails finding newer, healthier outlets – and this change can be intimidating at first.

Fear of relapse

Relapse is one of the most commonly talked about fears for addiction recovery, because nobody wants to feel as though they’ve “failed” or that they’re “weak”. Relapse is actually quite common – but that doesn’t make it scary nonetheless.

Becoming too bored

A number of people in addiction recovery have feared that they won’t be able to have fun anymore – and for the first few months (or even the first year), it may feel like there’s nothing to do. In treatment, however, daily schedules are meant to combat this fear of boredom.

Fear of rejection and/or abandonment

The realization of the harm that’s been done to others as a result of addiction can bear too much stress, anxiety and shame for a person – and in learning of what happened when a person was “high” or intoxicated, it’s commonplace for a person to worry that they’re friends, family and other loved ones may not want to be around anymore.

Difficulties in discovering one’s identity

Recovery requires that a person to reshape their life – and during this time of healing and rejuvenation, a person learns more about who they really are. It’s a scary process, especially if an individual feels lost in figuring it out – but it’s a journey worth taking.

12-Step Programs and the Benefits

Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous tend to serve as beautiful additions to treatment – and through these programs, a person can build their social support network to include not only the peers around them, but also a sponsor whom they can rely on in times of need. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) explains that addiction isn’t a destination, but rather a journey; and 12-Step programs embrace this journey through a number of avenues such as:

  • Working with a therapist
  • Attending and engaging in 12-Step meetings
  • Collaborating with a sponsor and building a strong bond
  • Exploring problems or psychological resistance to the program
  • “Working” the 12-Steps not just in meetings but also throughout a person’s life
  • Becoming involved in 12-Step activities, such as in social events, retreats and conventions
  • And more

Many of the fears experienced in recovery can be ameliorated through 12-Step programs because they remind those in recovery that they’re not the only one going through problems. Spirituality – such as developing a stronger connection with God or another Higher Power – can help save a person’s life by helping them find purpose and fulfillment in daily life. ASAM noted,

“Twelve-Step Recovery addresses the psychology of the person with the addiction as well as the individual’s spirituality – his/her values, his/her connectedness to others, and his/her willingness to engage with others and humbly ask for help.”

By applying oneself fully to the program while also attending regular treatment, the fears expressed earlier seem much less intimidating – because there’s an entire group of people whom a person can relate to.

Seek Treatment Now

If you’ve been struggling with addiction and are ready to turn your life around, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. There are always going to be obstacles in recovery, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move forward with treatment because of them – in fact, treatment will provide you with the tools you need to work through these obstacles and become a much stronger person.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Learn to develop healthy coping mechanisms

Everyday, we’re surrounded by people who are making a number of choices about how they want to “deal” with their anger, stress and sadness. Oftentimes, we begin seeing different coping mechanisms as a young child – and as we get older, we begin applying what we’ve seen around us to our own lives, because those coping mechanisms – whether healthy or unhealthy – seem to be normal. It’s not uncommon for many to find themselves battling with unhealthy, unproductive, downright harmful coping mechanisms well into adulthood – because coping isn’t something that’s talked about often.

What are Coping Mechanisms?

GoodTherapy.org, a website that pairs individuals with online therapists, define coping mechanisms as,

“…The strategies people often use in the face of stress and/or trauma to help manage painful or difficult emotions.”

There are a number of events that can cause us to utilize coping mechanisms, such as divorce, moving, getting married, having a child, buying a new home, losing a loved one and more. While some of these events may feel quite positive, they can still bring about lots of stress; and, if not handled appropriately, that stress can extend into something greater – such as a mental illnessor or even an addiction, especially if a person relies on a substance for too long. There are two types of coping mechanisms people tend to use:

Positive Coping Mechanisms

  • Support – relying on friends, family or coworkers to help a person feel confident about moving forward or to help navigate difficult situations
  • Relaxation – practicing healthy self-care activities, such as taking a hot shower, getting a massage, laying down and reading a book, etc.
  • Problem-solving – becoming an investigator of the problems a person is faced with – and focusing more intently on finding a solution rather than sinking in the problem
  • Humor – making efforts to laugh in the midst of stress as to gain some perspective and release some tension
  • Exercise – going to the gym to release cortisol, the stress hormone; working out has been physically proven to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression and other discomforting sensations
  • And more

Negative Coping Mechanisms

  • Escape – becoming socially isolated or withdrawing from friends and family; if escape is used as a coping mechanism, a person may allow themselves to become entrenched in reading a book, watching T.V. or spending time online
  • Unhealthy self-soothing – certain behaviors can become unhealthy if done in excess; for instance, food, alcohol, sex, video games and gambling can become unhealthy coping mechanisms if done often to soothe certain discomforting feelings
  • Numbing – some individuals may pursue behaviors such as alcohol or drugs, eating an excessive amount of food and more to “disconnect” from how they’re feeling; oftentimes, they’re aware of what they’re doing but they desperately want to get away from what’s going on inside
  • Compulsions – theft, reckless driving, physical abuse, gambling and more can become not only physically and mentally damaging, but can also bring about criminal implications as well
  • And more

How They Develop & How to Fix It

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior explains that those who struggle with addiction often struggle with maladaptive coping strategies; it could stem from denial, blame, guilt, trauma, abuse and much more. Thankfully, a person who grew up learning unhealthy coping mechanisms isn’t “stuck” in employing these strategies for the rest of their lives – in fact, addiction treatment includes exploring this area of a person’s life and helping them to identify and employ some of the healthier coping strategies when difficult thoughts, emotions or situations arise.

There are a few helpful behavioral therapy approaches that therapists can use to help a person transition from unhealthy to healthy coping mechanisms. These approaches may include:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

An evidence-based practice, CBT helps clients identify unhealthy, unproductive thought patterns so they can explore how those thought patterns affect their behavior; over time, clients work closely with their therapist and through completing “at-home” assignments to begin choosing thoughts that are more rational, positive and productive for their lives.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

Similar to CBT, DBT helps those in addiction recovery to come to grips with the “grey” areas of life; for some, life is viewed as black or white, but that leaves little room for all the nuances that occur from day to day. As Very Well Mind indicates, DBT is meant to help others live in the present moment while by learning about mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation.

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET)

For clients who are “on the fence” about whether or not to seek treatment, therapists can utilize MET to guide a client through the costs and benefits of seeking help.

12-Step support groups

Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) give those in recovery the opportunity to follow a path that leads them to greater spiritual wellbeing; for many people this positive reinforcement emphasizes healthy coping mechanisms for them to use over time.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Woman making the most of 12-Step Programs for recovery12-Step programs have been around for many, many years now as Bill W. and Dr. Bob started Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the first 12-Step fellowship, back in 1935. Since then, the program has expanded to over 2 million participants worldwide – and for many people, 12-Step programs serve as a strong foundation for living a life of sobriety. A 2015 article published by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) emphasizes that 12-Step programs are much more than merely “advising a person to go to AA”, but rather encourages attendance and participation, explains the potential benefits of working with a sponsor, explores problems and psychological resistance to attending meetings, guides people in “working the steps”, opens the door to 12-Step related activities (such as social events, retreats and conventions) and more. 12-Step programs provide many opportunities for a person to grow, but how can they truly harness this potential?

If you’re ready to make the most of your 12-Step program, remember that you’re going to get out of it exactly what you put in. For example, if you only attend a few meetings a year, you’re not going to get much – because you’re not able to immerse yourself in the culture, and little time will have been spent understanding the true dynamics of these types of programs. You can, however, get much more out of these programs by doing the following:

Engage in Meetings

In 2016, a person shared their experience with 12-Step meetings via Straight Up, a website that engages young people on advocacy and education related to social change. They stated,

“…The meetings I attended this time had a larger turnout and more people shared, so it was more interesting to sit in, and I learned a lot. I got to learn about people and their experiences and struggles with sobriety and recovery.”

The only way we can grow is to practice being vulnerable around others, to share our troubles and success as well as gain insight from people’s stories. To get the most from 12-Step programs, you need to not only be present – but to participate fully.

Connect with a Sponsor

Sponsorships do take a lot of work on both ends – and the most conducive relationships are those who both work to make the relationship meaningful. The Fix offers several suggestions for sponsorship, such as:

  1. Determining what type of sponsor would fit your needs most
  2. Taking time to meet with someone and get to know them before officially asking them to be your sponsor
  3. Learning about your potential sponsor’s story and what they’ve gone through to get to sobriety
  4. Asking your sponsor about the expectations they have for you
  5. Making it clear to your sponsor what you hope to get out of the relationship

Apply the 12-Steps to Your Daily Life

Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated that one of life’s biggest compensations is that nobody can truly help others until they’ve helped themselves. By applying what we’ve learned about the 12-Steps, we are helping ourselves to become stronger and more resilient in recovery – especially by releasing some of the ideals we’ve previously held about ourselves and the world.

Attending the meetings and reading through the Big Book can only get you so far – you have to be committed to working through the 12-Steps in every aspect of your life. By applying the principles learned to your life outside of 12-Step meetings, you’ll be much more invested in your own recovery – and you’ll be able to ask your fellow peers and sponsor for advice when something doesn’t go as planned. The ASAM notes that the 12-Steps are meant to take people on a personal journey where they can learn and grow – and if you don’t actively apply them, you miss out on this opportunity.

Provide Service to Others

In Part III of the Big Book, a person shared their story of 12-Step success and how much service played a role in their recovery. They stated,

“…I have become increasingly more devoted to this program that saved not only my life, but my wife’s also. Eventually I became involved in A.A. service and helped get a central office started for our groups. We both became active in general service…What a joy we found in this!”

When you apply yourself to the program, you’re much better able to become a part of something much larger – much more meaningful – than you ever thought possible. In fact, it’s through service that many people find their purpose and passion in life.

Live with Passion

Recovery is a beautiful chance to start living with more vitality, more energy, more purpose than ever before – and if you’re ready to transform your life, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today to get started. It’s never too late to find healing and restoration through 12-Step programs, along with many other effective components of treatment.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Gaining spirituality in 12-Step Programs12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can not only provide structure and support to a person’s treatment program, but they can also strengthen a person’s sense of spirituality.

This has a direct effect on a person’s sense of self-worth, their purpose in life, how they connect to others and so much more.

A 2015 study published in the journal Religion & Addiction explained that 12-Step programs help build upon six different facets of spirituality:

  1. Release – for many people in addiction recovery, there’s an intense need to control the thoughts and emotions that we’re experiencing when everything seems out of place. We lean towards substances because we believe that is the only way we can drown out the pain – 12-Step programs emphasize the fact that we have to leave everything up to a Higher Power, because we’re simply not strong enough to hold the weight of the world.
  2. Gratitude – when we’re caught in a cycle of pain, we lose everything that we’ve gained. Through 12-Step programs, we’re reminded that there are so many forces working for us – we just have to embrace and recognize them.
  3. Humility – one person shared their story of humility through the 12-Step program via a UK-based website. He stated,

“I started to make real friends and started to gain a belief in myself that I had never felt before. I started to understand that I couldn’t do this alone and realized that as long as I was humble enough to ask for help…I could actually do this.”

  1. Tolerance – because we’re human, we’re always going to come across painful emotions. 12-Step programs reiterate the importance of learning to tolerate these moments of discomfortability by relying on social support and a Higher Power to guide us through.
  2. Forgiveness – with the 12-Step program, those in recovery not only ask for forgiveness from others, but work towards forgiving themselves, too.
  3. Sense of Being at Home – one of the most foundational components of spirituality is feeling a sense of being at home – of fitting in with this world and having a sense of purpose. 12-Step programs help others rediscover themselves through community and faith.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

How 12-Step programs offer social supportSocial support is one of the most influential aspects of recovery, and previous research has proven this. A 2015 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology highlighted that addiction recovery is a process of social identity change in and of itself; as a person moves from viewing themselves as “one with addiction” to “one in recovery”, their social networks change – and this social support only reinforces the recovery goals they’re working towards. Support, structure and guidance are vital components to healing, and 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) foster these aspects.

There’s always been a shared sense of community for those in 12-Step programs, not just because of the layout itself but also because the discussions are centered around topics that everyone in attendance can truly relate to. In 2017, a person shared their own experience with this community via The Fix. The stated,

“…12-Step programs work for me when I stick with people who commit to the full program…The skills I’ve learned in 12-Step groups by doing the steps and learning the traditions are valuable everywhere. I’ve rebuilt my support group.”

In 2016, researchers from the New York University School of Medicine highlighted that peer support – such as those found in 12-Step groups – can have a significant impact on those in recovery by sharing knowledge and experiences, coping strategies, and offering understanding. Recovery leaders in 12-Step programs are individuals who’ve gone through the steps themselves – and have been working them for quite some time. This type of guidance, along with having peers who are also working towards recovery – only strengthens the sense of community that those hoping to build strength truly need.

If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery today, contact Cumberland Heights for information on treatment programs and support through 12-Step programs. While recovery may seem daunting, you’re not alone – and that’s what building a recovery community is all about.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Adolescent benefiting from 12-Step programsPrevious research has shown that treatment is best when it’s integrated – because everyone has unique histories, interests and learning processes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that comprehensive, personalized treatment works best for adolescents in addiction recovery and this often takes place amongst several components:

  • Behavioral therapies – such as counseling, psychotherapy, group therapy, etc.
  • Activities – such as horseback riding, rock climbing, canoeing and others
  • Group meals – so that adolescents can get to know other teens who are recovering
  • School assistance – which allows adolescents recovering to continue their education and not get behind
  • 12-Step programs – to provide a community in which adolescents can become a part of

12-Step programs can be incredibly effective for teens in recovery because it gives them an opportunity to connect with others while following a structured path towards healing. In 12-Step programs, teens can rebalance and restore their mental, physical and spiritual health; a 2015 study published by a student in the Harvard University Extension School found that greater involvement in 12-Step programs leads to lengthened sobriety. The 12-Step program is often supplemental to other forms of treatment, and it’s these various approaches to recovery that give a person a more personalized experience.

While being promoted to live a drug-free lifestyle, adolescents in recovery can work through deep-rooted issues in psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for instance, is a therapy approach that helps individuals uncover negative thought processes and replace them with more positive, meaningful ones. Group therapy sessions – aside from the group discussions explored in 12-Step Programs – can help teens explore greater issues that have been at play in their lives – whether it relates to friends, home life, school, mental health concerns or something else.

One person shared their personal experience with a 12-Step program via Recovery and Me. Here is an excerpt from their story:

“I learned about the power of connection between one recovering person and another; where sharing experiences, strength and hope with each other provide examples and inspiration to continue ‘one day at a time’.”

The strength garnered from 12-Step programs, in addition to other treatment modalities, can only serve to strengthen an adolescent’s journey to recovery. The period of adolescence is already marked by a rollercoaster of emotions and development; teens can find strength in a safe community found through Cumberland Heights’ ARCH Academy.

 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.


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