Tag Archives: 12-Step Programs

Tag Archives: 12-Step Programs


Using the 12-Step programs to enhance mind, body and spirit

Recovery is much more than treating a substance use disorder (SUD) as it is finding one’s balance in mind, body and spirit. Many people attest to leading a happier, more fulfilling life once they’ve dedicated their life to sobriety and purpose – and the 12-Steps also aid in this type of journey as a person finds their way to healing. A few years ago, writer Johnny F. shared his experience with the 12-Step program and rebuilding his mind, body spirit connection. He explained:

“…As my alcoholism progressed, my drinking increased and life became more and more unmanageable…Many speak of the spiritual and cognitive shift which is necessary for peace to exist in our world. Due to the good people of AA, the Steps are already known and well respected…where millions of lives have already been changed.” 

12-Step programs offer a structured program for those who are lost to come and find a path towards solidarity and purpose. With a goal of abstinence, those in addiction recovery can utilize the 12-Step program to bolster their support against relapse, while also strengthening their connection with a Higher Power.

12-Step Philosophy, a blog space for sharing ideas, experiences and resources related to addiction recovery and the 12-Step program, notes that life circumstances such as illness, traumatic events, emotional issues, and other life challenges can shake up the root of our core – and in many instances, this is where we’ll find ourselves battling substance abuse or another harmful addictive behavior.

It’s often that desire to seek something external – something outside of ourselves (such as love, success, money, etc.) that keeps us distracted and makes it hard for us to focus on what really matters. If you’re ready to embrace a life of sobriety and build a strong network of people through 12-Step programs, 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.

How participating in 12-Step programs can help build a support system

Formalized treatment often provides the structure that a person needs to restore their mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing after the ups and downs of addiction – but another major part of recovery is social support, and this is often found through recovery-related activities. Individual and group therapy serve as safe spaces for learning and growth, but there’s another component of recovery that can provide a person with a number of contacts and an additional structure for healing: 12-Step programs.

All About 12-Step Programs

12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), were founded back in the mid-1930s as a mutual self-help group. Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith and Bill Wilson started the first 12-Step fellowship in Akron, Ohio, and since then, thousands of chapters and people have engaged in it. The 12-Step program is a beautiful support program for those in addiction recovery, as the 12-Steps have led many people into forming a life of sobriety that’s all based on faith, hope, and love. A connection with a Higher Power is sought through these types of programs, and there are many principles that can be found through them:

  • The belief that a Higher Power is needed in order to live a fulfilling life, and that as human beings, we simply don’t have the power nor control to carry out what’s needed
  • The request of a Higher Power to remove all of our shortcomings
  • The admittance that we’d become powerless over our addiction, and that a Higher Power can help us carry out His will
  • And more

Over time, 12-Step programs have evolved into covering a variety of conditions such as eating disorders, gambling, nicotine addiction and more. It’s quite common for those in 12-Step programs to have a spiritual awakening, which has ultimately led people to lead a life with greater love, happiness and overall fulfillment.

In 2018, Very Well Mind, a website that publishes information related to mental health and wellness, explained that 12-Step programs have served not only as a way for people to recover from addiction but also as a form of guidance for life – and through this, connections can be made that only further endorse recovery and sobriety.

Social Support and Sobriety

It’s not uncommon for the people around us to greatly influence our attitudes, thoughts and behaviors. All too often, people fall victim to substance abuse because their social circle endorses it – and once you’re caught in the endless cycle of substance abuse, it’s incredibly difficult to get out. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that it’s this exposure to outside influencers – along with environmental factors (such as low cost and accessibility of the substances) and psychological influencers (such as stress and history of trauma) can also affect a person’s susceptibility to addiction.

Social support is about finding people who uplift your dreams, goals and plans for sobriety – it’s about surrounding yourself with individuals who help you become the person you want to be, rather than take you away from it. By forming a strong support network through a 12-Step program, you can enjoy numerous benefits such as:

  • Having people you can rely on in times of need
  • Being able to surround yourself with people who positively reinforce sobriety
  • Obtaining a sponsor – someone who can help guide you through recovery
  • Engaging in recurring meetings that can serve as a constant in an otherwise seemingly chaotic world
  • Gaining confidence in recovery-related efforts by no longer feeling alone
  • And others

Of course, social support systems only become stronger with greater involvement – and it’s crucial that you fully participate in 12-Step meetings and other recovery-related activities in order to get the most benefit. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that 12-Step programs can,

“…Offer an added layer of community-level social support to help people in recovery with abstinence and other healthy lifestyle goals.”

Building a Community

An unfortunate belief by many who’ve struggled with addiction is that they’re all alone – but the reality is that there are many more people who are also suffering, and who are in need of support. 12-Step programs offer a new chance at a fulfilling life – and that’s not only through the connection of a Higher Power but through the connection of others who want to build one another up. In 2015, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) described the 12-Step program as a “tried-and-true proven approach” that involves far more than simply advising someone – but also fosters community relationships and sponsor-sponsee connections that can enhance someone’s life.

Part of building a social support network is becoming vulnerable and opening up about the challenges we go through, as well as serving as a listening ear to those who need it as well. Holistically, support is a process of give and take – and, over time, we may find that we make connections that serve as lifelong friendships. Furthermore, the building of a relationship with a Higher Power means that we no longer have to feel alone in our pursuits – there is someone else watching over us, and we can rely on Him to help us lead a more fulfilling life.

Jean Venier once stated,

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals.”

If you’re ready to take steps towards building a lifelong support system, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. It’s never too late to ask for help – and in doing so, a number of opportunities become open.

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.

Learning to share your recovery story in 12-Step

Many people who’ve battled addiction feel as though they’re the only ones who’ve had the challenges they’ve gone through – and sometimes it can feel lonely. In fact, most of us tend to have this perspective because we already feel so left out from all the happiness and glamour that’s portrayed in music videos and on social media – we think to ourselves, “How can anyone else possibly know what I’m going through?” Even when we don’t realize it, it’s this type of thinking that perpetuates further isolation, when truly we all go through pain. 12-Step programs are an excellent part of recovery, a way to bring people together and remind everyone that they’re not alone – and if you get a moment to hear someone else’s stories, you may realize just how similar we all truly are.

Your Story is Important

It Brings People Together Through a Commonality: Emotion

The way you tell your story is extremely important because of the words you use, the way you explain your challenges and how you’ve grown from them, and the path you describe as recovery can uplift people who may feel down or “broken”. One person shared this benefit via the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP); they explained that even if one person is inspired by your story, it’s a success.

Last year, writer Taylor Markee shared via The Odyssey, a website that publishes information related to communities, that even if part of your story “feels” small – it doesn’t feel like worth mentioning – it could probably help someone else who needs a message of hope. Taylor explained that she’d gone through a lot of pain; she stated:

“I used to be ashamed of telling my story. I was afraid that people were going to judge me, or leave…but since I’ve gotten older, I have really been able to see that telling my story is something I should not be ashamed of.”

It was after she received a text message from her roommate that her story was inspirational and that it was a clear indicator that she’d grown – after sharing her story, she concluded that she could help people in ways she never thought possible, just by telling people of her experiences.

It Improves Your Health in Many Ways

Not only does telling your story help others, but it has some mental and spiritual benefits, too:

  • 12-Step programs emphasize sharing your story so that other people can find a sense of connection, but also so that individuals can feel strengthened from knowing that they’ve come a long way
  • By telling your story, you may gain a new perspective on hard situations that have happened in the past – and this could spark learning and growth
  • Greater faith for the future could occur as you witness positive changes take place in other people’s lives that derived from your story
  • You may find that you’re able to better make peace with what you’ve gone through
  • The values that you’ve set for yourself may be reaffirmed in the telling of your story
  • Your sense of self may become stronger, especially in recovery – because you have a meaningful story to tell and other people need to hear it
  • And more

12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) ask people in the last step to reach out to others and give back to those who need help. By sharing your story, you’re giving back – and you’re making a difference in people’s lives whether you witness their direct effects or not.

Tips for Telling Your Story

Just thinking about sharing your recovery story can feel a bit intimidating – there are likely so many thoughts, feelings, and events that have taken place over the years, so how are you supposed to fit that into a compelling story that contains a finite beginning and end? First, it can be helpful to think about the stories we’ve been inspired by. What did you like about those stories? What didn’t you like? Typically, the best stories contain the following:

  • A clear introduction, story, and conclusion
  • A description of how you’ve overcome a particular challenge (or a few)
  • An explanation of your thoughts, attitudes, values, feelings or beliefs that contributed to your downfall and/or recovery
  • A sense of sincere passion for how far you’ve come

The decision to share your story is an important one. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect what’s most important is that it’s heartfelt.

Don’t Compare

In telling your story, you may find that there are similarities and differences between yours and others’. Remember that you cannot compare your pain to that of others, nor the response you had to various situations – because everyone’s lives are on different paths. What you can do, however, is to share your story with openness and honesty – and tell it with the goal of inspiring others to pursue recovery, too.

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.

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.


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