Tag Archives: Alcoholics Anonymous

Tag Archives: Alcoholics Anonymous


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

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.

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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