12 Step

12 Step Recovery Program

Many alcoholics and addicts use what would generally be called a 12 step recovery program in the attempt to remain clean and sober.  They meet with varying degrees of success, ranging from complete abstinence to complete failure. I think one of the problems they encounter is mistaking participation in a 12 group with a 12 step recovery program. Most of the more common 12 step recovery programs are 28 day programs, using pop psychology to assist an individual.  As they generally include a lot of invalidation and evaluation of the person, they of course meet with a lot of resistance at times.  These programs generally have notoriously low success rates.  There can be a number of reasons for this.

First and foremost, any recovery program that does not include a thorough and complete detoxification program is significantly reducing their chances of success.  Withdrawal procedures are often labeled as detox, which is a misnomer.  Withdrawal or medical detox is a beginning process by which the person is weaned off the drug or alcohol to a point where it is now safe to cease use.  This is detoxification on a superficial level only.  One needs to handle the quantities of the drug or chemical that have stored up in the fat tissues of the body all during the time of use.  These drugs can and do break loose from the fat tissues, re-entering the system, and causing unexplainable urges, cravings, and other phenomena.  This can happen months or even years after the substance was last used.  These actual physical cravings are in large part the cause of relapse, though certainly not the only one.  A 28 day 12 step recovery program is simply not enough time to achieve the full detoxification necessary to thoroughly rid the body of the addictive substances.

A second possible reason for the low success rate of 12 step recovery programs is the lack of adequate training in the life skills necessary to successfully apply the 12 steps.  Addicts and alcoholics are quite often much closed off emotionally, where they have been living an existence of isolation, or at best extreme estrangement.  They need to relearn, or in some cases learn for the first time, the skills involved in communication.  These communication skills would include communication with self with honesty, with others, and with the environment as a whole.  
Addicts and alcoholics are quite often found to not be fully aware of the environment as it actually exists, and so would have a very hard time confronting and handling the issues that led up to and perpetuate their addiction.

A 12 step recovery program is limiting.  This is not to demean an honest application of the 12 steps themselves.  Rather, it is a plea to separate the two and realize that a more thorough and complete recovery regimen is needed.  This will help insure that if one chooses a 12 step program following a full addiction treatment program, that they will have improved chances at success and lasting sobriety.

If the level of addiction or alcoholism requires an in-patient rehabilitation program, a 12 step recovery program statistically shows a very low rate of lasting success or sobriety.  One is much better looking for more long term and more embracive options.