Help with Addiction – 12 Steps to Nowhere!

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 don’t 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 God’s image.

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 don’t 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.

David Roppo

Addiction Recovery Coach

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