19 Dec The 12-Step Approach to Addiction Treatment
Howard B. New Life House manager discusses his take on a 12-Step approach to addiction treatment – a permanent solution vs. a temporary fix!
I believe the 12-Step approach to addiction treatment is ultimately the most effective and well-rounded tool we have available when it comes to dealing with drug addiction and alcohol abuse. This is especially accurate when working with teens and young adults. There are a few different reasons for this: the active interaction with a sponsor, the spiritual component of the 12-Steps, and the community development that is integrated into 12-Step fellowships.
Young adulthood can be an emotionally turbulent period in anyone’s life, regardless of whether they are or aren’t an alcoholic. One of the challenges facing young men 18 to 25 is the absence of a positive peer group or role model to help guide them through this process. Parents are always available, but the reality is that most guys in this age group spend far more time with their friends on a daily basis than with their family members. One of the ways that the 12-Step treatment approach addresses this issue is through the use of a sponsor.
A sponsor is another individual in recovery that has already completed the steps, has more time sober and that works with someone closely one-to-one, teaching them about working the 12-Steps as well as giving them life guidance. Working with a sponsor allows an individual not only develop this healthy relationship; it provides them with a role model who has experienced and made it through the same struggles that they are currently dealing with. This also adds a level of accountability that keeps an individual current and active in their recovery.
Another key feature of the 12-Step approach to addiction treatment is its holistic nature. Many young addicts and alcoholics can come into treatment with problems other than just their drinking and using. Self-esteem issues, behavioral problems, unmanageability, lack of integrity, low motivation and overall unhealthy living are all some of the different things that men and women come into treatment struggling with. The 12-Steps are so effective because they address the underlying beliefs and conditions that lead to all of their core behaviors. Through working the steps, new behaviors are learned which build self-esteem and teach manageability. Individuals begin to value integrity and as a result, begin to feel good, gaining motivation and developing a new interest in taking care of themselves.
One of the most rewarding things about working in recovery is getting to watch the transformation that occurs with this process. Someone will begin working the 12-Steps to just stop drinking and using, but along the way so much more takes place. Ultimately the drug and alcohol abuse becomes a small part of the bigger picture of character development and personal growth that the 12-Step process facilitates; leading to the resolution of many other problems that the young addict or alcoholic comes into treatment with.
The community that the 12-Step fellowships provides is something that lasts long after primary treatment or sober living has been completed. One facet of the 12-Step approach are the meetings that recovering alcoholics and addicts attend. This gives young people in recovery an opportunity to connect with a group of like-minded individuals who all share in a positive and healthy lifestyle. A common problem with trying to get sober young is the lack of community. The friends that someone associated with while using or drinking are often doing the same thing, which can make early recovery seem like a lonely process. By getting involved in the 12-Step fellowship, members find a whole new group to surround themselves with. 12-Step recovery fosters a sense of unity and helps create bonds that can last a lifetime.
Overall, the 12-Step approach sets the foundation for a lifetime of recovery, giving young people getting sober a permanent solution, rather than a temporary fix.
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