Nobody ever intends to become addicted to alcohol or drugs, but rather it happens as a result of a confluence of factors and circumstances. There are many reasons why an individual might develop an addiction, some of which are conscious choices while others are inadvertent or unconscious. However, an individual who begins to use and misuse mind-altering substances opens him or herself to the very real possibility of chemical dependency, which causes profound hardship and suffering. The effects of addiction are so numerous and varied that it often causes a comprehensive transformation, turning people who had been good, honest, and empathetic into slaves to alcohol or drugs.
There are a number of different treatments and recovery tools available to help individuals overcome their addictions. Unfortunately, the disease of addiction cannot be cured, but those who have developed addictions can overcome the numerous effects that the disease is known to cause. One of the most popular and effective recovery tools is the twelve-step method, which is central to Alcoholics Anonymous and its many derivative groups. Working the Twelve Steps has helped hundreds of millions of alcoholics and addicts to overcome physical, psychological, and spiritual dependence on dangerous substances, affording them with a means of self-improvement and maintaining their sobriety for the long-term. Moreover, the Twelve Steps are also effective in simply helping individuals to be better people or even just better in general. As such, the following are some of the ways that the Twelve Steps can help a person be better on a continuous, daily basis.
Acceptance & Accountability
In the years since addiction was conceptualized as a disease rather than a morality issue, research concerning the development, nature, and treatment of addiction has mounted. One of the findings of this growing body of research is the prominence of denial among individuals who suffer from addiction. In fact, a study of denial in addiction has found that many addicts seem to pass through similar stages of denial, from an early point when they don’t fully realize the extent of their chemical dependency to a later stage when they are aware of their dependency while either refusing or being unable to accept it. It’s important to understand the function of denial in addiction because individuals who deny either the severity or reality of their addictions will be unable to begin the recovery process. As such, acceptance of one’s addiction and of one’s reality—no matter how harsh or unpalatable it may be—is an essential prerequisite for addiction recovery and, in fact, is actually what the very first of the Twelve Steps is about.
After an individual has accepted the reality of his or her addiction, he or she can become ready to overcome their dependency, which is of equal importance to acknowledgment of the problem since individuals can be aware of their addictions without being ready or willing to overcome them. With this acceptance comes a greater sense of accountability, which means that individuals are better able to understand how their actions have resulted in their unpalatable realities. Many individuals in active addiction harm themselves as well as others, even loved ones, and being accountable means taking responsibility for the effect that one’s addiction and resultant behaviors have had on others. These are principles that translate into daily life as individuals who can accept reality and be accountable for their actions are acutely aware of concepts like consequence, which allow them to make better choices on a day-to-day basis.
Personal Awareness & Overcoming Character Defects
Steps Four through Seven of the Twelve Steps involve taking a “searching and fearless moral inventory,” often written by hand, in order to document all of one’s character defects and personal flaws. This is an important part of the recovery process as it serves as similar function as psychotherapy in an addiction treatment program. The purpose of this morale inventory is to identify one’s negative traits that likely contributed to the development and longevity of addiction. Much easier said than done, this task requires acute personal awareness. The defects individuals acknowledge include greed, anger, resentment, jealousy, selfishness, egotism and self-importance, impatience, negative or immoral thinking, and intolerance, but could include many others. Additionally, once could easily see how any one of an individual’s defects of character could have perpetuated an addiction.
Having identified and acknowledged one’s flaws, the Twelve Steps encourages individuals to admit them, even to others, and then purge them. Again, this is much easier said than done, but the idea is to teach individuals to be more aware of their weaknesses and flaws so that they can make a concerted, proactive effort to always be improving themselves. In the case of procrastination, an individual who recognized his or her tendency to procrastinate would make a daily effort to overcome than negative habit by working to overcome that kind of flaw. Additionally, this is a process that never completely ends since individuals can develop bad habits at any point in time and, therefore, find a new flaw to overcome
Making Amends & Helping Others Through the Recovery Process
Nearing the end of the Twelve Steps, individuals begin to turn their focus outward rather than inward, identifying instances in which they have harmed others over their course of active addiction. The idea is to make amends for the injustices committed against others whenever and wherever possible unless the amends would cause someone additional harm. Although this would appear to be a task that was mostly about doing unto others, the underlying purpose of this is to safeguard individuals in recovery from further guilt and shame as well as discouraging the committal of further injustices against others. As the final step in the process, individuals are encouraged to help others through the twelve-step process, which can also be interpreted as encouragement to help others through their hardships, whether they are suffering from addiction or some other difficulties in their lives. In effect, this encourages individuals to be much less self-involved and self-centered and, instead, think more about others. Moreover, the feeling of being helpful to others can be very rewarding.
Find Your Way Back to Happiness & Sobriety with Drug Treatment Center Finder
There are a number of lessons than an individual learns through the process of twelve-step recovery. However, there are many other tools and treatments that are helpful to individuals who are going through recovery. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from learning more about twelve-step recovery or other forms of treatment, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. Call us today for a free consultation and assessment with one of our recovery specialists. Let the healing begin today as Drug Treatment Center Finder helps you get back on the track of happiness and sobriety.