When we think about the 12 step program, it seems mostly related to Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, which was the origin of these programs about 70 years ago in the US by Bill W. and Dr. Bob desperately sought ways to not be affected by alcohol anymore.
Today, it’s estimated that there are more than 2 million members of A.A. spread across more than 120,000 groups around the world. Narcotics Anonymous meetings are held 67,000 times weekly in 139 countries across the planet. And those are just the top two 12 Step groups: Given their proliferation, the success of the Steps as imagined one night by Bill Wilson in 1938 is incalculable. In addition, the solace, comfort and serenity they’ve provided to those who seek a better way of life through them cannot be quantified, especially given the fact that they’ve become a foundation stone — a cornerstone, if you will — of drug and alcohol treatment programs and residential addiction treatment centers around the country.
Truly, it would appear, the spiritual nature of the program at which Bill originally scoffed has proven both effective and miraculous in communities of recovery from all manner of substances and conditions. (from a Cornerstone of recovery 2018)
When I personally think about AA, I used to relate that to homelessness and sleeping under a bridge and as a place to stay away from as far as possible!
Today I feel very different about 12 step programs though.
Today there are many different types of 12 step groups, 30 plus, and they all function in the same way.
There are 12 Steps, 12 Traditions, 12 Concepts. This is to keep a group healthy.
(Look at how we market our Coaching programs online? there always 3 steps, 10 steps, 7 steps or whatever steps involved, we are marketing still using this idea and why? Because it works!)
A program like CoDa for instance , or codependent anonymous, is a program for people working to end patterns of dysfunctional relationships and develop functional and healthy relationships, which is basically good for most of us!
There are programs for changing unhealthy patterns around food, sex , drugs, money, emotional health and much more and in many different forms.
There are programs for prescribed sleeping pills or legal needed pain medication. For “normal” people who still suffer and who have a hard time weaning off.
I saw for instance years ago on ER, the famous television program, that there is even a special one for doctors.
There are also a lot of family support 12 step programs, to improve relationships and teach how to live with and to be around people who do have addictions.
These are the kinds of groups I like to refer to some of my clients.
In other words, most of us fit in somewhere.
And it does not mean we all belong in a 12 step program.
I do like them though.
The principles of the program are wonderful.
For one it is Anonymous!
Whatever is shared in a meeting stays there, it gives anyone a safe place to find words for something that needs to be expressed.
Nobody is allowed to interrupt or later comment on what is shared.
What a luxury is that!
The principles are total democratic, rotating leadership keeps these programs for 70 plus years still going strong.
All are accepted and loved in a special way.
It teaches you to look at yourself and others differently by working the steps.
It is important to be there for others by doing service.
Friendships are formed here.
Mentoring others and being mentored by sponsorship.
The list of benefits are endless.
It does not cost any money either, which is pleasant.
And it is NOT therapy, or replacement for therapy or coaching.
12 step groups are meant as support and there is a lot to learn here and also maybe a lot to let go off as well.
I have personally been to a lot of meetings the last 30 years and it brings me comfort,wisdom, support and friendships all over the world.
Also when 2 or more are gathered, the miracle can occur.
The connection and community these fellowships provide are priceless.
So many things these days as discovered in neuroscience that are beneficial for us humans, are provided by these formats intuitively.
Working the steps gave me an opportunity to look different to some of my behaviors which brought more healing to myself and those around me.
It definitely is not for everyone, and it does provide the possibility as a great healing tool.
Therefore I wanted to write something about 12 step programs in this blog.