Understanding the Twelve Step Process

For addicts, the brightest, most inviting path of all was the one marked "The Twelve Step Process". This path is recognized by doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and recovering addicts around the world as the sure thing, the gimme, the easy button, and the road map to a successful recovery.

Over half a century ago, a Christian revival movement, the "Oxford Group", found that some principles in that movement could be adapted to help alcoholics and addicts experience hope, sobriety, and cleanliness. These principles soon evolved into the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous. These steps were created to help liberate people from the chains of addiction and find freedom, forgiveness, hope, and guidance for the future.

Recovery, which implies that something is wrong, includes being honest about your past so that healing may begin, gaining insights into behavior with destructive patterns, and developing trust in a source of wisdom and strength – often called the "Higher Power" or "God", and we look to Him for pardon, power, and purpose during our great quest for change which leads to recovery.

For me, the recovery process on my own wasn't difficult – it was "impossible". Many have tried to overcome their addictions by willpower alone and failed. The recovery movement provides effective and confidential support groups and sponsors who understand your problems. They will be there to cheer you on and hold you accountable for taking the next step. Addicts desperately need to spend time with experienced people who are one or more steps farther along in their own recovery. More to the point, I would say it's non-negotiable and mandatory to the process of change.

We, as alcoholics and addicts, tried to keep our secrets in the closet for as long as we could. Once out, we were afraid that those we tell will condemn us, laugh at us, and probably leave us. For so long, we've chosen to hang around people who bolster our addiction and make fun of those who are honestly trying to heal themselves. We have to develop tenacity and endure to keep going even when we think the tide is drowning us. Sometimes we sail on calm seas; and in those times we see beauty around us. But at other times, we face the "perfect storm", fighting to keep our heads above water. If, however, we have a network of friends and a higher power on board who sails along with us, our ship will not capsize.

Your great quest to be free of substance abuse probably didn't begin until financial, family, or legal problems began to surface. Now you are beginning to or constantly search for something you've neglected or lost – something that you have tried to break free from, something more important than anything in life. At moments you may have lost hope and have almost been able to dismiss the quest completely. But you must never give up. Strive to carry on your quest. You only have this one life – embrace it; cherish it; save it!

At moments in your life, have you looked at others, perhaps your friends, and wondered if they too were seeking recovery. Why do some people have the ability to abuse substances and manage to keep their lives together. Some of them seem so much happier and less burdened than you. They have managed to have found fulfillment in marriage, family living, and in some cases, wealth and fame. These people have found their way. They knew what they wanted and have been able to grasp it. I constantly looked at others and asked "Why is it only I who travels the path that leads to nowhere?" and "Why is it I who can't manage my life?" It has been said that some people are more prone to addictions than others – an addictive personality, if you will. Whether it is a moral sickness or a physical one, almost all recovering addicts have experienced a spiritual emptiness that oppresses their comfort or peace.

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Copyright by by Steven L. White.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
This article is based on an excerpt from his book
The Fly and the Jackal: Addiction, Recovery and Biblical Principles
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