Thursday, September 24, 2009

12 Step Recovery Myths

Many people hesitate to try 12 step programs or avoid them altogether because of some the myths they hear about them. I have to admit I don’t blame them. Some of the things we hear are scary. Well today I hope to dispel some of these myths. Granted some hardcore 12 steppers may get upset but my aim is not to offend anyone. Trust me I think 12 step program are a vital part of creating a strong foundation for your recovery. It definitely worked/works for me and millions of other people.

In the book Powerfully Recovered, author Ann Wayman put it this way, “Telling people who have little, if any, experience with success, that they can never successfully recover guarantees that many of them will never even try. Insisting that people who already feel powerless must adopt an attitude of perpetual powerlessness in order to let go of their addiction means many of them will refuse to even attempt to work the Program.”

Here are some myth busters from Drug Addiction and Recovery Series - 12 Step Meeting Myths and Realities by Ravi Jaya on February 15, 2009

Myth: Go to 90 Meetings in 90 DaysOn the surface, it sounds like there is nothing wrong with this advice right? However, there are a number of problems with following this recommendation. First, what are you going to do if you don’t make 90 meetings in 90 days? Is this unrealistic goal going to set you up for failure? If you make 100 meetings in 90 days, is a monument going to be built for you? What does this goal accomplish? Why the arbitrary number of 90? Is there something special about this number?

While it is good to have discipline while working a program of recovery, this type of discipline will only set you up for failure. As human beings, our lives are incredibly complex where we are balancing time for a job, relationships and family. Sometimes, situations come into our lives where we might miss a meeting or two. And, if you do happen to meet a meeting or two, it is OK as long as you are consistently working the 12 steps and have your own connection to your higher power.

Also, if you are 100 percent reliant on meetings to keep you sober, what is going to happen when you can’t get to a meeting? The answer is that you will probably end up using drugs again. It is imperative that you build and find the tools within yourself and through your higher power to keep you sober.

Myth: Take Your Time to Work the 12 StepsThis is one of the biggest untruths that is perpetuated in our programs of recovery. There is a popular saying, “We didn’t get sick overnight, and we won’t get well overnight.” While it is true that you will most likely not get well literally overnight, you will get well as fast as you work the steps. I knew a man who worked the steps in 15 days, and his spiritual recovery took literally 15 days. Most people do not work the steps this fast, however; there is nothing wrong with working the steps this quickly. In the early days of the 1930’s when the steps were first being practiced, most people did the steps in a few days. Your sponsor would stay on top of you until you were done. That is why we had such high recovery rates back then: people ensured that people who were new to recovery did the necessary work to stay sober, and in fact, the steps were a necessary task to be completed for you to be included in the fellowship.

“If you read Dr. Bob's story, in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, it becomes clear he worked the then Six Steps in an afternoon and evening! (The original six steps contain all of the now 12 – they were broken up to provide more manageable chunks). The founders and old timers knew it was imperative that the addict had to take massive personal action to effect the needed changes. The Steps, including Step 4 are a solid plan for taking the action necessary to recover.” (Powerfully Recovered, Anne Wayman, Second Edition 2000)

Myth: I Have Years of Sobriety and Am Still Powerless and My Life Is Still UnmanageableThe first step of recovery talks about how we are powerless over drugs and how our lives have become unmanageable, and early on before you work the steps, this is true. The original 12 step text, details how we are when we are still getting drunk and loaded, and what happens when we try and quit on our own. These descriptions of us are right on the money and show how powerless and unmanageable we were.

However, the whole point of us working the steps is that we can gain some power in our lives and that our lives can become more manageable again. The first step points out how our lives have become powerless and unmanageable, the second step shows us that we can believe in our own higher power, and then the third step turns the management of our lives over to that higher power that we chose in the second step. After you perform a third step, your life is no longer unmanageable because your life is now being managed by your higher power. Yes, I know that it sounds strange, although after you try it, you understand that it really works.

For more myth busters and a better understanding of what I am trying to get at with this blog post today I high recommend reading Powerfully Recovered, Anne Wayman, Second Edition 2000. Choosing to stop acting out on our dysfunction/addiction take power and will which we all have. RECLAIM YOUR POWER AND WILL!

(Usual disclaimer applies, with emphasis: The suggestions on this blog are just that “SUGGESTIONS.” My words cannot heal your pain and or addictions. Nor can I change your life. Only you can.)

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If you are not sure how to begin your work-in or need some guidance please feel free to post a comment or email me directly at, I will response as soon as I can.
“Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness." -- Shakti Gawain

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