Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

What are the issues with twelve step programs?

Asked by wundayatta (58349 points ) February 23rd, 2010

In response to a question suggesting that twelve step programs use language that encourages participants to identify with their addiction, @marinelife said that there are a number of issues with these programs.

What are the issues with twelve step programs? Why are they issues? How could they be fixed?

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46 Answers

Seek's avatar

One is that they are inherently faith-based.

There are no 12-step programs that apply to atheists.

Just_Justine's avatar

While I agree with Seek in that they are faith based, I don’t agree with his statement that atheists cannot use it. In that the word Higher Power can be anything from the group you belong to, to electricity as one person I met put it, or if you use any belief in anything more powerful than your self. The power could even be the groups collective consensus.

Silhouette's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Sure there are. Doesn’t matter if your higher power is God, the program still works if you work it. The atheists that run from the program because it’s faith based are looking for excuses not to attend. Higher powers can be as simple as I don’t like what I’m doing to my life and I want to do better. My higher power was the desire to stop and the will to get it done.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr There is a program called Rational Recovery. My wifes girlfriend went through this for aftercare following heroin withdrawal. It’s based loosely on the twelve-step program, but de-emphasizes the religion aspect. As I understand it, their equivalent of the “higher power” is something that you discover within yourself.

girlofscience's avatar

12-step programs are shit. They’re not based on any scientific research on addiction, and (though I don’t have the cites at the moment) any studies done on 12-step programs have revealed that there’s actually a greater rate of recovery for equally addicted people who did nothing rather than those who used a 12-step program.

12-step programs claim to be “spiritual, not religious,” but meetings based on 12-step programs require the group to say the Our Father at the end of the meeting.

12-step programs require to give up belief in your own free will and admit that you are “powerless” against your addiction. I don’t know how relinquishing complete control over an addiction is ever supposed to give you control over your actions…

You are required to believe that you are governed by a “Higher Power.” Rather than yourself. Basically, they force you to completely give up on yourself. Sick.

There is a very cult-like feel to 12-step programs. It’s pretty disgusting. People lose their sense of self in identifying with their addiction and this larger group. When people stop attending the meetings, the other members of the group won’t even talk to them. And they harass them pretty heavily. This article discusses the cult-like nature of AA (a 12-step-based group) pretty well.

People who go through 12-step programs (if they’re “turned”) become complete nutcases. They are no longer themselves, and they use the meetings as a new addiction to replace their old addiction. Also, they come across as complete freaks when interacting with non-12-step members of society.

Facade's avatar

I’m guessing the programs cater to the majority. Isn’t the majority of people spiritual in some way?

Just_Justine's avatar

@girlofscience I’ve been going to meetings over 20 years not sure where most of your information comes from? I am yet to attend a group that says Our Father. No one is horrible nor harasses anyone whether you go or not. Recovery is entirely in your own hands. They offer strength and hope. Your answer saying it is a cult amongst other things, is just ignorant. Loads of people go from HIndu’s to Atheists, to Muslims to people who believe in nothing. Most people are spiritually bankrupt when they start the program anyway.

Val123's avatar

If people skip a step, it won’t work. I knew someone, once very close to me, who went through it, and damn near broke her arm patting herself on the back in congratulations. However….she never made amends for all of the times she embarrassed me, screamed at me when she was drunk. Never made amends to anyone. And to this day she may not drink, but her personality hasn’t changed at all.

kevbo's avatar

@girlofscience, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don’t understand attacking 12-step progams with an article that relies on the testimony of disgruntled addicts and throws academic literature out the window.

“AA is not a cult because it meets certain objective criteria established by academics; it is a cult because it appears to be one. Social and behavioral scientists do not often make new discoveries, they typically exploit discoveries by quantifying, describing, referencing, and analyzing discoveries made by common people. They know little of the real phenomena about which they expound, each building upon the ignorance of their esteemed colleagues.”

Is this your standard for fact?

Substance abuse addicts, in particular, blame everyone but themselves, so trolling for anti-12 step comments will always produce plenty of results whether those comments are reality-based or the product of addictive thinking. And, recovery is a disruptive process by any measure, so of course friendly and family ties get tested.

I do think it is more religious by degrees than it claims to be, but the “spiritual formula” is pretty universal for anyone who is acknowledges a spiritual basis for life. Those who don’t, I’m sure will have bones to pick with that aspect as much as they would with any odor of religion or spirituality in any aspect of their lives.

I would agree with you regarding the potential to replace booze (or whatever) with religious nutcasery, but for an addict, that might be the only next best option. Besides, we all have our addiction or our religion if you would believe the words of one author:

”... in the day to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing… or some inviolabe set of principles is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.”

@wundayatta, wikipedia has common criticisms noted. Here’s a starting point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12_step_program#Criticism

BoBo1946's avatar

@Silhouette well said sport!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

There are programs based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that don’t rely on groups, “higher powers” or the idea that one is in a continual state of recovery. These teach recognition of the inner voice that draws one to substance abuse. Some call it “the Beast” and learn to ignore it or redirect thoughts away from it. Such programs emphasize individual responsibilty; not using a group or “higher power” as a crutch. The Rational Recovery process actually abandoned group therapy about a dozen years ago.

Seek's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land

That sounds like a much more useful situation.

My father went through AA at least five times in the eight years I lived with him. He was an excommunicated Catholic, so any mention of “god” or “higher powers” or whatever probably did far more harm than good, as God had already renounced him.

My husband did a 12 step rehab when he was 19, also. I don’t think it was AA, but it was a faith-based one as well. The lack of personal responsibility turned him off completely. He knew full well he was the one that made the choice to drink, and putting the responsibility on someone else to keep him from drinking was the opposite of help.

davidbetterman's avatar

None, for those who can’t quit on their own.

kevbo's avatar

“inviolable,” sorry

Cruiser's avatar

One step, 12 steps or 20….doesn’t matter how many you take if you stop taking them.

susanc's avatar

I was helped by a 12 step program but it was difficult to be around the other people in them.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Our friend and business partner Genevive tried three times to get off heroin. On the third try, the rehab center made her attend NA meetings while she was an inpatient, but my wife had lined up a RR/CBT therapist for her as soon as she completed the program. The third time was a charm. She has learned to take responsibility for her own behavior, organize her life and set goals. She’s been clean for five years now, is a totally changed person and a highly competant farm manager. All through her own effort, no group or “higher power” can take credit for her hard-won achievement.

loser's avatar

Somebody is always going to have an issue with something. That’s why they tell you to “take what you need and leave the rest”.

nisse's avatar

Remember, there are successful 12-step programs:
Step 1: Collect underwear.
Step 2–11: ...
Step 12: Profit!

OneMoreMinute's avatar

I went to ACA in the late 80’s and some Co-dependent, some AA meetings. I sensed back then that something important was still missing, that it was not a complete program, and saw flaws in the ointment. I am told it’s saved millions of lives, so I am grateful and respectful of the good that it has done. Many of my family members have caused great heartaches to others and some died from alcohol/drug things. and no, they did not work a program.

That said now, here’s my 2 cents worth of constructive critisism.

When does the person (or addict) ever get to take back their power/own their power that they apparently gave away to the addiction?

It seems like it’s another society with free coffee and cookies that supports people who disown their power. So that brings this to identifying that “Empty Hole they try to fill”

And finally, it ignores the Godself Source that is within everyone, yet acknowledging a separate Godself Source from outside of themselves. (Separation)

12 Steps have done wonderful things for millions, and for that I thank them, and hope “they keep coming back,it works!”
but when will someone add the 13th step being “Hello, I’m OneMoreMinute, I am My Authority and I consciously claim my Power back” “Hello OneMoreMinute!”

I’m guessing that wouldn’t fly well with religions.

Please remember, I am just a jelly fish, and I’m sorry if my stingers touched you. But I have been wondering this for many years, and this is a really great question to consider.
I’m not looking to offend or change what works. this is just my observations that I noted.

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

The obvious obstruction is the faith-based philosophy, that can be avoided by just changing the higher power to something material. It’s part of the process to be broken down into your bare elemental self then to rebuild you. All of it requires acceptance, of your condition and faith. That’s what I have noticed by second hand accounts. Well it almost has to have you identify you as your disease, a lot of the population doesn’t see addiction as disease or mental health as a legitimate medical term. It’s a moral failing, so if you just give up and accept “your place” It actually makes more sense to many people.

Just_Justine's avatar

@wundayatta the steps are simple as the saying goes dont over analyse KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid.

wundayatta's avatar

@Just_Justine Are you being sarcastic? I hope so. Because otherwise, I can’t believe you just said that. Unless your mind has been taken over by an alien. No. You have to be making a joke. Sorry. I’m a bit slow.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m not sure if this is going to directly address your question, but here goes.

The 12 steps are a simple program for complicated people. It’s just my opinion, but I think the issues with the programs lie with the participants. I have been a member of a 12 step program for over 10 years, and it has worked a miracle in my life.

Where I was a hopeless, helpless alcoholic before, it has brought me joy, peace, and serenity. I couldn’t stop drinking. No amount of will power on my part was strong enough to keep the plug in the jug. But by following a few simple rules, I have been given a full life. Those simple rules were
1. Get a sponsor
2. Work the steps
3. Pray even if you don’t believe it
4. Read the book Alcoholics Anonymous
5. Be of service to others
6. Go to meetings

I have seen with my own eyes the transformative power of the 12 steps work in my life and the lives of thousands of other people. I have seen homeless people build lives and become productive members of society. I have seen broken homes fixed. I have seen anger-filled persons commit acts of simple service to help fellow sufferers.

I have seen lives of anguish turned to lives of joy. Mine is one of them.

Jeruba's avatar

I think the issues are not with the programs but with the people in them. You can make a commitment to being clean and sober without following a program. Some people find that a twelve-step program supports them well in their efforts and some don’t. It is still a personal effort. Any one person can be 100% successful in recovery, but that does not mean that everyone will; nor does the failure of some mean that it can’t work for anyone.

It makes as much sense to blame a program for one’s own failure as it does to blame the diet you’re on if you don’t reduce your calories and increase your exercise. The program is a means to an end; it is not an end in itself.

Just_Justine's avatar

@wundayatta not at all it has been found a lot of people fail to reach their goal with a 12 step program because they over analyse it. They failed because they were too clever.I have been sober (as I used the program for alcoholism) since 1988 and I also used to analyse the program too much. It was found too, that most people “did” the steps one after the other. The most important step is step one. It also means you are powerless of people, places and situations. It should read I accept that I am powerless over people places and situation. Because they found that many people used control in their dealings with their addiction. Or did it in reaction to situations they were in, or people they blamed or who had hurt them. The steps need not follow each other you can work on one that is relevant to your need at the time. But never, until you accept your addiction as above. For example remorse would then be a prelude to making amends (only if you felt remorse) and then when you did not to harm anyone. (I shagged your wife I am so sorry).

I was lucky as I was in AA in the old days. My sponsor had been off booze for some fifty years, He took the simple approach. Many around him achieved sobriety. He would always shout at me, Keep It Simple Stupid. Which reminded me of my primary focus there. To get sober and to shut my mouth and open my ears. I had a lot to say in those days. But I was still drunk they were still sober. When I took the steps in their simplicity I came right. I’ve been clean since 1988.

I recall him saying step 10 and step 1 being the most important steps. Because if you don’t accept you have a problem the other steps are worthless. KISS is often used with the program.

I am glad you asked I am never sarcastic as far as I am aware. I hope that clarified it?

wundayatta's avatar

@Just_Justine It makes sense that if you don’t accept it, you can’t go anywhere. I have not accepted that I have an addiction. First, I don’t know that I even believe that love can be an addiction. Second, even if you can be addicted to love, I’m not sure I would fit the criteria for that. I’ll go for some more times to see what kinds of stories people tell—to see if they are talking about the same thing I am thinking about. I can’t say I have an open mind, but I’m willing to go and see.

susanc's avatar

@wundayatta: what 12-step program are you in? because… substance addictions are
a little bit different from relationship addicitions. I went to Hazelden, a recovery program based on 12-step, in 1989, for a week. It cost laughably little (it has a huge alumnae-based endowment) and was startlingly to the point. This was difficult for me because I too had always believed that cleverness should suffice.
I was in the Family Program, which is partly geared to people living with substance-addicted loved ones. But you can also get help from programs like this if “all you are” (!) is “co-dependent” – a hideously annoying label which fit me to a T.
Maybe you know all this stuff. Keep talking.

Jeruba's avatar

Just making a guess here, @wundayatta, but you might find greater relevance in an OA meeting (overeaters) than AA and NA.

The difference is crucial. For alcoholics and drug addicts, the goal is total abstention for the rest of your life. But when it comes to food, it is not an absolute prohibition, obviously. Instead—and here’s the guesswork because I’ve never been there—there has to be something about the right proportion, or the right relationship to food in your life. I don’t think you want to learn to live without love and sex. I think you want to have them occupy a healthy and not obsessive place in your life. Right? So the 12-step model might be useful, but perhaps not in the AA/NA way.

I’ve read about a possible connection anyway between overeating behaviors and love/sex issues, so it might not be altogether misdirected.

wundayatta's avatar

Sex and love addicts, @susanc.

I think you’re right, @Jeruba. I wonder how they decide what the correct balance is.

Just_Justine's avatar

@wundayatta You keep saying love. Love as in how? I am just curious because if you are talking about “falling in love” all those wonderful chemicals it creates, then it is simply another altered state. Similar to any addiction.

wundayatta's avatar

@Just_Justine It’s called a love addiction. There are books about it. There are patterns of behavior that suggest the problem. It’s not a diagnosis. It’s just a popularized behavior that people believe should be treated. The things I’ve done in the past couple of years fit the pattern of behavior that one book I read attributed to love addict. My therapists (and wife) are very excited that I am looking into SLAA meetings.

Just_Justine's avatar

@wundayatta oh I see. In the old days we called it falling in lust addiction. It really felt great. Some people did it over and over, to perhaps change brain chemistry. It’s just I battle to reconcile the word Love with addiction. In the real meaning of love as it often implies commitment, caring, establishing and setting up permanent factors in order to spend time with someone we would only ever want to spend time with. So in a way the love thing doesn’t make sense to me. Love is a more permanent state as opposed to falling in love. You know the whole “boundary snapping back” wondrous falling in love scenario. Because once truly in love why would we seek more love? Or do you require loads of different people do give you love. I am a bit confused sorry.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@wundayatta I feel like I’m putting you on the spot, but I have been following this link, and have been wondering something. I need some clarification.
Addictions leave footprints of destruction, damage, great pain, even legal problems. There’s fingerprints, signs and symptoms. It hurts others and costs a lot of money. I have been wondering how Love can leave a damage trail? I thought Love heals all wounds. So, I’m confused. I understand Sex, Alcohol, Drug, Co-Dependents, Gambling, Work, Eating, Shopping addictions. But I’m unable to put Love and Addiction together to make sense. When/how does Love become toxic or destructive?
wow, I just read Just Justines… interesting. I’m gonna post this anyways.

wundayatta's avatar

@OneMoreMinute I’m with you there. I am not interested in short term sexual, lustful situations. They don’t help me. What helps me is being known and being accepted in a deeply connected way. That is the only thing that I have ever experienced that will fill the empty hole inside me for any period of time. It stabilizes me and makes me able to withstand a lot of other shit in life.

It was certainly a reflection on my existing relationship that I didn’t feel like I was getting that. I started seeking out these relationships when I got manic. In fact, I now think it’s one of the signs that I am getting manic. But after the mania, I plunge into depression, which breaks the new relationship. Except, sometimes it left me with a real relationship, of the kind @Just_Justine describes, which made things very complicated, because the feelings were real, and I couldn’t just drop them.

I tried to make myself believe that internet relationships were just fantasies made up in my head. My therapist agrees with this idea, but few people in the online community do.

One sign of love addiction is thinking of someone obsessively. Ok, but isn’t that what people do when they first fall in love? Another sign is that if the beloved goes away, you get depressed, and when they come back, you feel a lot better. Again, this seems normal to me. But after a while things calm down, and the obsession turns into something more stable. You trust each other more. You don’t need each other all the time. You start liking and caring for each other, instead. It all seems like a normal progression.

So is that addiction? Is the very idea of a love addiction sensible? Does it have to be an addiction because you care deeply for and love more than one person at a time? Is that, by definition, impossible?

Of course, having a new relationship when you have an existing relationship can create destruction, damage and great pain—oh yeah, and the legal problems of divorce. It hurts your spouse and the children. So, if, knowing this, you still get involved with someone else, does that mean it’s an addiction because you are knowingly doing something self-destructive—or potentially self-destructive?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I know what people would say to someone is this situation. They would be very clear that it is wrong and it should stop and that it is impossible to keep going. They would lose respect for the person doing that. And the person, if they have any brains at all, wouldn’t be able to deny any of that.

So the model of love addiction requires a treatment that seems designed to get the addict to conform to the prevailing moral conventions of that community. Maybe it’s a way to take the shame off the love addict, which allows them to recover (which, I gather, is one of the points of twelve step programs).

When I did this, I was manic. I believed, however, that I was in love with each of the women I did it with. They were all internet relationships—so no exchanges of bodily fluids. They certainly had fantasy components, but there weren’t just lusts, I don’t think. I am still friends, indeed, very close friends in one case, with three of them. I could be friends with others if I wanted to. At the time, it was too much for me to change the relationships. Besides which, I needed to stop all that fantasizing in order to work on my marriage.

Is this unhealthy? I think it looks unhealthy upon first glance. Or even second and third glance. But these women, I believe, helped me recover. I know that one of them kept me from killing myself. They helped keep my self-esteem from falling into a black hole. Incidentally, they were responsible, largely, for my decision to quit Askville and come here. I needed to get away.

But the urge to be loved has not gone away. The feeling that there is not enough love in the world for me has not gone away. The need to physically make love in order to believe that I am loved has not gone away, and so, I am in danger of doing this again, and that’s why people want me to go to the love addict meetings.

I would dearly love to be able to feel ok on my own, without external love. I’m told that this is what other people can do. I am skeptical that this avenue is available to me. But the love addict group and, I gather, other addiction groups, claim to be able to help you fill this empty space with your “higher power,” thus saving you from needing to “act out” in order to feel ok.

I know that my higher power would be the group. It would be the sense of belonging to something larger than myself. However, that is a difficult thing for me to sustain, and so far, I have only felt it when the group is assembled. I need constant support. That’s part of the reason why I spend so much time here. I need to be relating to people—fairly intensely.

In the group, it is easier to talk, because everyone has shared that experience. We won’t judge each other. We’ll understand. I’ve never really talked about this here before because I am afraid of the judgments and of how people will feel about me and what they will say to me.

Yesterday, in my marriage counselor’s office, I finally broke down and confessed a lot of the shit about my wife that bothers me. I’d been fearful of doing this for a number of reasons. Primarily, I was afraid that if I spoke them, she would be so upset, she would make my life miserable, if not kick me out. I also was afraid of her defensiveness. She can spin a gazillion reasons about why I am wrong to feel as I do in two seconds. It stops me from saying anything, usually. I was afraid of hurting her—which is why she gets defensive and angry and lashes back. I didn’t want to hurt her. I was/am afraid these things are unsolvable. She loves me and I love her but I don’t know if that’s enough.

I have been willing to live with this misery partly because I didn’t really know it was there (I had never articulated it until then), but also because I don’t want to hurt or lose my kids. She, however, wants more stability. I hurt her when I get depressed. I try to push her away. She doesn’t understand this, and my explanation doesn’t make sense to her. I think that if I have another episode, our marriage will be over. She said she can’t stand any more of it. I don’t blame her. It is miserable to live with someone who is bipolar. I hope she doesn’t bug out, but I’ll completely understand if she does.

There is also a self-destructive part of me that thinks if she does kick me out then I don’t have to care any more. I can stop taking my meds. I can do whatever I want—travel, have fun, try to meet women. I won’t succeed but I’ll have fun until the money runs out and then I can be depressed until I die.

No. To be honest, that’s just a romantic, self-pitying fantasy. I suppose it could happen, but I would try to prevent it from happening. But on my own it would be so much easier to stop caring for and about myself. Although, knowing that I don’t have any more chances makes me eager to get it over with. I’ll fuck up sooner or later. The temptation to get out from under Damocles’ sword argues for sooner.

Just_Justine's avatar

@wundayatta I have heard that it is common for bipolar sufferers to be obsessive about people. I know in the AA hand book , “One day at a Time” it speaks of such obsessions . I know I am referring to AA again, but I thought I would mention it as if you remove the alcoholic part of it the wisdom it delivers deals with this. I can’t recall being obsessed with anyone. I’ll have to think on that. I have two bipolar friends (girls) and they became very obsessive over me so I had to cut of the relationship. I was getting 10 texts a day from the one. This was just in a friendship context. So I think it is very common with us lot!

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@wundayatta I am SO GLAD I ASKED. That was the most heartfelt sharing I have ever seen. You words have such healing energy in them. I wish I could express myself like that.
The whole/hole uncovering/recovering process. The pure vulnerability you risk reveals how strong you really are, and your willingness and determination to clear.
I have no words, this brings such tears, my heart is with you. If I was sitting next to you, I’d cry a river with you.
omg, I need a Codependency meeting, like right now!!!
(((@wundayatta)))
You sound like you are making gigantic progress through understanding. Thank you for sharing your truth and your power.

wundayatta's avatar

@OneMoreMinute First, thank you very much.

Second, can I get a translation? There are words that I know mean something different to you than to me. Sharing. Whole/hole (I get this, but I wonder what it means to you or to people in the 12 step community). Uncovering/recovering. How is uncovering supposed to lead to recovering (if that’s the process). Clear. That’s a word I’ve heard, but I’ve never had explained to me—what it means in this context. I can’t even guess. Codependency meeting?

Is vulnerability strength or foolishness? Or both? But in what balance?

People have told me before that I seem to be making progress or am very close to some kind of breakthrough…. They are speaking of something spiritual, and it always sounds like satori to me—some sudden explosion of aha!

But nothing like that ever happens and I never feel anything more than incrementally more knowledgeable than before, which makes sense, but I still dream of that enlightenment experience. It will never come to me that way, though. That’s not who I am.

You are very encouraging and I appreciate that more than I can tell you. I live and I write in hopes of touching people this way. It happens so rarely (and unexpectedly) and is very moving when it occurs. If you started crying than I would, too, and for all that I believe the theory that it’s ok for guys to cry, I hate doing it, and I almost never do it.

Again, thank you so much.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

ok, you are welcome.
I’m not as great with words as you, but I’ll give it a go. Only cuz you gave me such a good cleansing cry. Thanks. I like a good eye ball bath! My soul does anyways.
A little rain for the heart brings out the rainbows! Then my faries and unicorns play nice!

This I’ll share with you. Some parts come from a book, class, people, and my own deductions. It may not be FDA approved! But it’s all from my own personal experience of various addictions 1st hand and from my family and close people throughout my entire life has gotten me only this far on my path of recovery. I’m not out of the woods yet. But at least I can see and even smell the trees! It’s not about the individuals drug of preference/distraction preference used to numb the pain, or fill the hole, it’s about realizing and letting go of self-created illusions of powerlessness and believing those lies of insanity. Layers and levels mismashed upon each other.

It’s all a mixed up confusing self destructive spiral in the wrong direction. It’s hard to differentiate the chicken or the egg first. I was born into it, so it’s in my DNA. So I’ll just jump in. Just relax, and not pay as much attention to my words with your brain, close your eyes and read along with your heart.

It doesn’t even have a start. It’s always been there as far as I can remember. Maybe it began with the Big Bang! Starts somewhere with myself believing I’m powerless in my consciousness. Except I don’t find this out until much later in the story.

Powerless to choose. By default, to be subjected to deal with whats seemingly placed on my plate. A belief in being unlovable will find outlets to act out in unlovable ways to gain attention and love. TOXIC SHAME is part of the addiction. It grows into GUILT (anger from the past) and that creates a need to be punished and for pain. And that turns into not feeling loved. That acidic belief corrodes a hole. Something/someone comes along and is pleasant and then our brain creates chemicals that flow in our bloodstream that feel good. We repeat as often as necessary to fill the “hole”. We associate that with something outside of us, when it’s all happening inside us. There’s the illusion, or blind spot. We are faked into believing that something outside of us did it. it makes those feel good chemicals in our brain. All of this is happening inside. We can’t see this because of the distractions. We fool ourselves. It’s magic. We believe. We are the last to find out. Everyone else will know before we will.

Only in a supportive and safe environment will uncovering the secrets leads to Recovery. Vulnerability developes an inner strength that supports the space where the secrets were hidden and festering. Clearing the wounds of shame with truth will assist healing if done with compassion. Allowing for the return to wholeness. The reclamation. The ReClaiming. The Taking back our power. Our power to do what?

***I think we need to break for a commercial!!!***
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It’s Miller time!
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——-

The power to Choose to create what we truly want. All that we want.
I’m am so close. Are you going to push me?

OneMoreMinute's avatar

authors note: I use “We” in place of my fragmented self. I’m not yet whole-eyezed or Singulary-teed yet.
That’s my Great Work In Progress. Still unfolding, still cooking!

OneMoreMinute's avatar

Whew! pant-pant-pant!!! That was certainly a painstaking task. I think I know what an Egyptian dung beetle feels like rolling a ball. This may look like a short walk around the block, but it’s the masterpiece of about 30 years worth of recovery. Let’s call this part A.

I am now on part B of my recovery. Learning how to Choose. Thoughts, words (power of the spoken words), feelings or emotions, actions, and on and on. And testing choices.

It almost seems insane. But that’s the nature of addictions.
wish me luck!

SeventhSense's avatar

@girlofscience
It’s called humility.

12-step programs claim to be “spiritual, not religious,” but meetings based on 12-step programs require the group to say the Our Father at the end of the meeting.

There are no requirements for membership at any 12 step meeting including saying the Lord’s Prayer. You can simply refrain, join with the group in silence or leave the meeting at meet others outside. Again this has to do with being part of a community and not being self willed to the exclusion of others which is what landed people in trouble in the first place- an obsession with self directed and self destructive behaviors. These are the strongest resistances for a reason. They are the nature of addiction. “I can do it alone.” “I can stop whenever I want.” “I don’t need anyone etc.”

12-step programs require to give up belief in your own free will and admit that you are “powerless” against your addiction. I don’t know how relinquishing complete control over an addiction is ever supposed to give you control over your actions…

The basis of becoming an alcoholic/adict is that you are in fact powerless over your addiction or you would not have arrived at complete devastation in your life. This is not a plot to make you weak. It’s an admission of your current state when you walk into those rooms. Do you think people become alcoholics because they are paragons of self control? No they come because they can’t stop using. Now to admit powerlessness and leave you in a state of helplessness is not the goal. The next step is that you can be restored.

You are required to believe that you are governed by a “Higher Power.” Rather than yourself. Basically, they force you to completely give up on yourself. Sick.

Again the best behavior and thinking of the alcoholic/ addict and their thought patterns and every waking moment was hellbent on suicide. How rational is this person? Can you not say that relying on a higher self/God, ideal, principle or others who only want your best would be anything less than the most rational act of this dying person in contrast? If your best thinking brought you to deaths door maybe a little “outside of the box” thinking is in order.

As far as the cult like atmosphere. This is just silly. Any group whether it be a classroom, church or family has a “cult” like atmosphere in that there are unspoken agreements among its members and certain behaviors. I would also add that there are many who become overly zealous and these are usually people with strong addictions and lean heavily on the principles of recovery. And maybe these are annoying but they are happy to be alive. Many come into those rooms and really don’t know the utter devastation and complete degradation and complete loss of self can result from addiction. Many like the Courtney Loves of the world just continue in their insanity and others like her widow Kurt Cobain die needlessly in their self imposed prison. Should they take offense and die in their pride?
Through the actions of two men- alcoholics themselves and hardly Sunday School characters an organization was begun that has saved the lives of millions of people. If you’re at the end the fact that is there’s a place for someone to go and join with others and find hope is amazing. And yes there are some people who are afraid in those rooms and I don’t blame them. They are afraid to go back to the living hell which was their lives before they found freedom from addiction. Don’t stand in their way.

I am over 22 years abstinent of all drugs and alcohol and I rarely attend meetings anymore but I’m forever grateful for them and will always support their right to exist. And yes there are those who cling to them a little more tightly than I would. Yet how can I begrudge a drowning man who clings to a life preserver with fervor. Especially when I know all too well what it feels like to be drowning.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Courts in the U.S. have held AA to be religious, not simply spiritual. Consequently, persons in those jurisdictions cannot be sentenced to attend the fellowship.

ItsAHabit's avatar

I have no problem whatsoever with AA and am glad that it helps some people. I reject the criticism that people can be addicted to AA because it seems better to be addicted to a group than to alcohol.
AA World Services reports a success rate of about 5%. However, about 30% of alcoholics obtain remission without AA, medical help, counseling or therapy of any kind. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that a substantial proportion of alcoholics either abstain or drink in moderation.

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