12 Myths About the 12 Steps & Addiction
12-step Process to Recovery
The 12-step process to recovery has received a bad reputation over the years, mostly from people who don’t understand or have never been involved with the program. Despite the broad range of millions of success stories attributed to the 12-steps, a series of myths have grown up around the program that tends to put a dark cloud over an otherwise successful program. Before you start getting involved in a 12-step program, you should become familiar with the most popular myths and know the truth about this popular recovering solution.
Myth 1: The 12-step program has deep religious ties and overtones
One of the most prominent myths about the 12-step program is that it has deep religious ties, or it is a religion unto itself. The 12-step program is designed to be inclusive of all religions, and it does not require that anyone taking the program drop their current religion. There are references to strength in faith throughout the program, but it is not religious in any way. It is reiterated that members believe in a Higher Power as they understand it. The driving purpose behind this is for the addict to admit they’re powerless over their addiction and to tap into a power greater than themselves and enlarge their spiritual life so they may overcome the power of their addiction.
Myth 2: It is a cult
Since the 12-step program is designed to provide support to those suffering from addictions. Of the myths that have developed over the years, this one has been the most baffling. Cults can be dangerous in their ideology and one could face consequences if they leave. The 12 step fellowship provide suggestions and, if followed, promote positive thinking. All 12 step programs are fellowships.
Myth 3: 12-step program groups are temperance groups
While it makes sense to classify a program dedicated to helping people quit addiction to be anti-drug or anti-alcohol, that is simply not the case with the 12-step program. A 12-step program’s purpose is to help an addict break the bonds of addiction and get their life back. The people who administer 12-step programs have never started a crusade against alcohol or drugs, and 12-step counselors do not give opinions on how addiction affects other people. The goal of a 12-step program is to free the participant of addiction, and to fulfill their lives and dreams.
Myth 4: 12-step programs are really just self-help groups
A 12-step program creates a supportive environment that offers resources and tools to help people break free of addiction. The 12-step program provides suggestions and guides to those battling addiction. It’s through the support of a community so many are able to sustain lasting addiction recovery.
Myth 5: 12-step programs don’t work
The basic principles of the 12-steps programs have not changed since its foundation and creation in 1935. The stories have to reflect the increase in span and fellowship. In as many years of its existence, the program has helped countless individuals with various addictions stay clean and sober. According to SAMHSA (for 1997) about two million people regularly use the program.
Myth 6: The 12-step program tries to steer people away from clinical care
12 steps programs understand they have no monopoly on recovery and support outside help.
Myth 7: Doing nothing is better than going to a 12-step program
A 12-step program gives someone seeking addiction treatment a safe and nurturing environment where they can face their addiction and get the support and help they need. For many addicts, the 12-step program acts as the gateway to getting the help they need. 12 step programs are programs of action.
Myth 8: 12-step programs are designed to make participants feel helpless and reliant on the program
Many people confuse helplessness with a cry for help. A 12-step program reaches out to people and answers a cry for help with the resources necessary to beat their addictions.
Myth 9: 12-step programs attempt to shame people into giving up their addictions
No one who participates in a 12-step system is forced to speak to the group in general. The program is designed to allow people to handle their addiction at their own pace and in their own way.
Myth 10: Only people who have hit rock bottom are allowed to take part in a 12-step program
Anyone who feels they need help can attend an open 12-step program. No one is ever turned away.
Myth 11: Forcing people to start over after one drink is pointless
If a participant cannot adhere to the program, then the lessons of the program need to be reinforced. To get well, the participant must understand how the 12-step program helps their lives and exercise all of the aspects of the program in their daily activities.
Myth 12: A 12-step program consists of people complaining about their addiction issues
A big part of a 12-step program is people sharing their successes and helping others to find success through a design for living that works in all situations.