Tag Archives: 12-Step Programs

Tag Archives: 12-Step Programs


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.

Since 1966, it has been Cumberland Heights’ mission to transform lives, giving hope to those affected by alcohol and drugs. Cumberland Heights recognizes addiction is a family disease and wants to provide support whenever possible. Our Family & Community Education Program is designed to provide education and support for those seeking recovery and those already taking the steps to transform their lives. Please join us on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month, from 7:00-8:30PM at Indian Lake Peninsula Church at 235 Indian Lake Rd, Hendersonville, TN 37075 to learn more about how you can support yourself and your loved ones and what is available to you throughout this process.

Details:

Family & Community Education Program Biweekly Event

For more information, please contact Stacy Bridges, Events Coordinator at stacy_bridges@cumberlandheights.org or call (615) 390-8224.

Two young adults benefiting from 12-Step programsYoung adults ages 18-29 years old experience unique challenges, as they’re often in social settings that promote substance use. Colleges are known for their “drinking culture”, and even young adults in the workforce find themselves at after-hour work events and social gatherings that beg them to “unwind”. American culture sets us up to believe that after a long, hard day at work, we should reward ourselves by drinking (or, for many, using drugs). What many young adults don’t realize, however, is that this substance abuse can have very real consequences – consequences that can truly take hold of their life.

12-Step programs have been around for hundreds of years, and people of all ages have benefitted from them. The 12-Steps guide people through recovery, along with the opportunity to for fellowship in weekly meetings and sponsorship, which connects them to a person who has maintained sobriety for at least a year in most cases. For concerned parents, friends and family, these 12-Step programs may seem to provide a lot of the structure and support that young adults need – but how might they react?

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment sought to explore the effects of 12-Step programs for young adults; they found that for this age range in particular, 12-Step programs benefitted them regarding decreased substance use, and for a number of reasons:

  • 12-Step programs allow young adults to meet others who are struggling with similar concerns, which forms a shared sense of community
  • Weekly meetings establish structure for many young adults, which can make it easier to participate
  • The principles of many 12-Step programs are aimed at helping those in recovery restore their mind, body and spirit
  • Sponsorship gives young adults the opportunity to learn from those who have previously walked in their footsteps
  • And more

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that 12-Step programs can oftentimes extend the effects of treatment, which only serves to reinforce their recovery.

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.

A sponsor boosting success in recoveryIn 12-Step programs, sponsors are those who facilitate the process of recovery; they live a sober lifestyle, they’re an active member of 12-Step fellowship and they must have completed the 12-Steps successfully. Each sponsorship is different depending on the nature of the relationship, but generally sponsors will answer questions you may have about recovery, may provide feedback on your progress and may provide you with moral support to help you along the way. If you’re thinking about joining a 12-Step program, you may be wondering a bit more about sponsorship and how this could benefit you. It’s normal to feel hesitant – after all, it’s a new process. The good news, however, is that, if done right, sponsorship can greatly improve your chances of recovery. Here’s how:

A 2016 study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence assessed 302 young adults enrolled in residential substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. The participants were assessed at 3, 6 and 12 months intervals, and it was noted whether they had a sponsor throughout this time or not – as well as some other factors of their recovery. This is what they found:

  • Participants who had a sponsor and maintained contact with them (as well as formed a good connection) were found to have greater 12-Step participation and abstinence, on average.

Ultimately, it seems that if you’re able to form a strong relationship with your sponsor and maintain communication with them, you’re much more likely to succeed – and it’s because you have someone who genuinely supports your recovery. Now, you may be wondering – “How exactly do I form a close relationship with a sponsor?” Just like any professional relationship, it takes time and effort.

The Fix noted in 2016 that you have to find a sponsor with a similar approach to recovery as yourself. It is recommended to have a sponsor with at least 1-year of continuous sobriety, and to be of the same sex as you. Get to know a person before you officially ask them to be your sponsor, that way you feel confident moving forward. Learn about your sponsor, ask them questions and make sure it is clear – on both ends – what the expectations are for the relationship.

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.

Using yoga and spirituality in addiction recoverySpirituality is what brings many in addiction recovery from a place of loneliness, isolation, shame and desperation to a place of gratitude, connectedness, community and vitality. We all experience pain, and sometimes that pain takes us far beyond what we would have imagined. We become entrenched in this endless loop of negative thinking, drinking, criticism and more, which holds us back from truly living a life of recovery. If you’ve been ready to make a change in your life – one that is truly transformative – focus on spirituality.

In 2018, Very Well Mind, a website that provides information on disorders, self-improvement and more, identified several components of spirituality that is truly discovered by each person in their own recovery journey:

  • Understanding the faults, mistakes and weaknesses that we have as part of being human
  • Respecting oneself and others
  • Learning how to use a moral compass to guide oneself through life’s situations
  • Gaining perspective on one’s problems
  • Letting go of pride and asking for help when it’s needed
  • Receiving and giving support to other people
  • And so much more

12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), help people become more “spiritually fit” through weekly group discussions, sponsorship and community support. Other holistic activities, such as yoga, provide a beautiful blend of mindfulness meditation, breathing, exercise and balance to those in recovery. A 2016 study published in the journal Life Science Global noted that yoga practice, meditation and self-reflection are all excellent spiritual activities to build one’s sense of self-awareness, improve behavioral responses to stress, increased mindfulness of emotions and more.

Holly Glenn Whitaker, a yoga and meditation instructor has been working diligently in her recovery from addiction for many years. In her blog, Hip Sobriety, she mentions that yoga has helped her replace “artificial highs” for more natural ones, become more engaged in a community, establish more control over her mind and discover an incredibly healthy coping mechanism that she can use virtually anytime, anywhere.

If you haven’t already, look into attending some yoga classes alongside your 12-Step program. The possibilities – and benefits – are endless.

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 AA addresses 4 core aspects of recoveryAlcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a 12-Step program that was created in 1935 in Akron, Ohio. As a worldwide recovery mutual-help organization, AA has helped many people find their way from addiction to a life of recovery and as a non-denominational organization, there is truly something for everyone. A 2017 study published in the journal Addiction confirmed this by the assessments of many pieces of literature regarding AA; researchers found that AA generally supports a “spiritual awakening” for those in recovery, as well as living a life of sobriety by providing those in the community with resources to get there. One individual shared his personal success story via the AA official website. Here is an excerpt from his story:

“…My mind was open because A.A. is not a religious program. So, I found a sponsor and I continued down the path [of recovery]. It has been the single best thing I have ever done in my life. Coming to terms with the past me, how I really ‘ticked’ and how I perceived life was such an awakening.”

With so many people having had such transformative experiences with 12-Step programs such as AA, it’s important to understand the many areas of recovery that AA addresses.

Core Aspects of Recovery

A study published in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly explored the many ways in which AA works for those in recovery and these were some of the topics covered:

1. Regulating Emotions

A core component of AA is the belief that addiction doesn’t derive from pleasure, but rather from psychological suffering. Pleasure may certainly be involved in addiction, but it is often within our own feelings of loneliness and despair that we turn to other things – such as substances – to distract us from what we’re really feeling. 12-Step programs, such as AA, help individuals understand why sobriety is so important in solving life’s problems along with guidance to becoming more flexible and willing to grow in these areas of life instead.

2. Self-Esteem

Much of what AA speaks to is the pain of the “self” and how many elements of narcissism are often found in alcoholism. This inflation of self is what causes us to develop a “big ego”, which leads to us feeling bad for ourselves or unimportant and that’s often where alcohol and other substances make their way in an attempt to bridge this gap. 12-Step programs remind us that we are only human – and while we can’t control everything that happens in our lives, we can control our own actions. Ultimately, this gives us an entirely new perspective on ourselves, placing that “selfish” part of us to the side and opening our hearts to others.

3. Relationships

As the study emphasized, the group dynamics of AA promote engagement with others, along with a universal understanding that as humans, our suffering should not be faced alone. The way we view ourselves and our problems is often what leads us to distance ourselves from others and AA works to counter feelings of shame and guilt with the building of connection to others. In addition to this, people find that admitting their mistakes and apologizing for the pain they’ve caused others actually fosters further development of those relationships which are so meaningful to them.

4. Behavior

AA emphasizes the powerlessness and loss of control that is associated with alcoholism. This statement of responsibility and vulnerability opens pathways for those in addiction recovery to connect with others without judgment and many find that it helps them understand the importance of self-care as well as adopting a more genuine approach to caring for others.

Getting the Most Out of 12-Step Programs

As with every aspect of recovery, a person must create space in their mind, body and spirit for healing. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment sought to explore “readiness factors” and what best prepped individuals for success in 12-Step programs such as AA. The two most important factors were quite simple: 1) prior involvement in AA and 2) active engagement. If you’ve recently begun exploring the world of AA, don’t give up. Become connected to others in the program and engage in self-care activities along with other recovery efforts to strengthen your treatment.

12-Step programs can work beautifully alongside outpatient treatment programs, as a person explores more personal issues through individual and group therapy in treatment and builds their support network through AA and relevant programs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that 12-Step programs are,

“…a fundamental component of the substance use disorder treatment system.”

If you’re looking for a safe environment where you can meet others on their journey to recovery while also engaging in meaningful discussions on topics such as sobriety, relapse and more, AA could be an excellent option for you. Don’t wait any longer to start strengthening your mind, body and spirit.

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.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.


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