12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, are designed for individuals who share a common desire to stop drinking and using. There are many misconceptions about 12-step meetings, but their importance within the recovery community is significant.
Typically, when an addicted individual completes residential treatment and/or outpatient treatment for addiction, they will start attending 12-step meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous (“AA”) has chapters in 180 countries around the world. The organization doesn’t keep a list of members’ names, but estimates that it has 2 million members who come from all backgrounds. Members who suffer from alcoholism range in age from young adults to seniors adults.
Other 12-Step meetings include Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous. Although these meetings have different topics, the structure is the same. All 12-Step programs use a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems.
What makes 12-Step programs so important? First, addiction recovery works much better in a group environment. Although some people choose to work through their addiction individually, working the Steps has been proven to be essential in an addict’s recovery.
12-Step programs provide accountability and constant support. The meetings focus on members supporting each other and it’s been shown that simply belonging to such a group can help the member stay free of addiction.
Although being a part of a group is essential to recovery, many members of AA also benefit from a one-to-one relationship with a sponsor. A sponsor in AA is somebody who is there to offer guidance and support to a sponsee. They’re there to listen and hold the sponsee accountable. Sponsors will take their sponsee’s through the 12 steps and offer encouragement and praise for achievements.
A common misconception about AA is that once you work the steps, you’re done. This way of thinking may prove to be detrimental to an addict’s recovery. Continuing to go to meetings is extremely important, as meetings keep you connected to your recovery. Recovery doesn’t stop after 1 year of sobriety, 5 years of sobriety, or 20 years of sobriety. Recovery is life-long, and to maintain that commitment you must be active and connected to that part of your life.
Getting sober and staying sober is challenging, but participation in 12-Step meetings and sponsorship will be extremely beneficial to one’s recovery process. For information about AA meetings in your area or to learn more about AA, visit http://www.aa.org/ .
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center can help. Call or visit us today and talk to one of our intake coordinators. 602-535-6468 , www.stonewallinstitute.com .