Overcome Addiction - Twelve-Step Programs
I would like to begin this paragraph by crowning
the opening introductory statement of
the Twelve-Step Program format. Repeat after me; my name is blank and I am an addict!
Now, let me ask you a question; how did it make you feel to say that? Well, I can tell you
that it made me feel inadequate, guilt ridden and shameful, and I have never even had an
addiction!!!! However, if you choose to participate in this program you may as well get
use to it, because you will be asked to repeat this statement multiple times at each and
every meeting!!! You see, I have personally attended and participated in 12 step meetings
and I found it to be one of the most disempowering things I have ever done.
The Twelve-Step Program is based on the original Alcoholics Anonymous program, which was
developed by the Oxford Group. The program structure consists of weekly meetings that
revolve around teaching an understanding and application of the twelve individual steps.
Discussion groups are also utilized in conjunction with the regular twelve step group, to
give members opportunities to discuss issues that are preventing them from moving
forward with the twelve step process. I have participated in several discussion groups and
have made the following observation; it would seem that these sessions are nothing more
than merely group venting session for members, since comments or advice from others is
strictly prohibited. I have concluded that many of the same members attended these
discussion groups week after week and continue to relive the same issue over and over
without being armed with the knowledge of how to address or confront it.I believe this
causes the individual to get stuck in his or her emotional wounds and contract what I like
to call wounditis. Combine this with the disempowerment of labeling someone as an
addict and you have a recipe for a self esteem disaster.
This treatment program asks a
person to admit that they are powerless over their addiction and to ask God to remove
their shortcomings and defects of character, while wallowing in shame and guilt. I donít
believe that God wants us to feel powerless. Quite the contrary, God has given us all the
power we need to change anything that we desire to. After all, we are made in Godís
The root cause of addiction is the need to mask underlying emotional scars caused
by family dysfunction and, in many cases these emotional scars will leave most
individuals with a very low level of self esteem. Therefore, admitting that you are
powerless and full of shortcomings will only deepen the wounds or cause a person to
choose a different mask or vehicle.
You know, people that have been habitually using
drugs or alcohol are already full of shame and guilt and they certainly donít need anyone
to disempower them even further than they already are. People are not alcoholics or
addicts for life, and they are not only one drink or one use away from a relapse. We are
all people and we are all souls, which by the way makes us all connected, and it also
makes us all children of God. No one is an alcoholic or an addict, and no one should be
labeled as such. Addiction is merely a choice not a life long ball and chain that
individuals should drag around with them.
One, positive thing about this program is that
it does teach the step of a spiritual awakening and leading a life of service to our fellow
man, and that is without a doubt what makes it more successful than the other treatment
options. However, the twelve step program was founded on Christian principles and is a
religious based program by nature, which sometimes causes a skewed perception of
spirituality. The definition of spirituality is; related or being joined in spirit. So,
spirituality requires the personal connection or joining with God. This can only be
accomplished by achieving a higher state of consciousness through meditation, self
reflection or deep prayer. You can not achieve a joining of spirit with God by becoming
consumed by religious doctrines, although this is what happens in many of these
programs. Hiding behind a religious doctrine to remove the pain is the equivalent of
trading one mask for another and a recipe for chronic relapse. Recovery requires self
reflection, spiritual growth and the courage to confront the root cause of ones addiction.
Quite frankly, it is impossible to achieve spiritual growth when wallowing in your
wounds, sharing that commonality with a group and hiding behind a religious doctrine.
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