Recovery, sobriety is a 12-step process


How 12-Step programs work

The basic idea of the 12-Step program is to give people struggling with addiction a process through which to understand and manage their substance use disorders, as well as to find social support for recovery through others who are dealing with the same struggles.

Through group meetings with others who are in the program, a person who joins a 12-Step group is guided through the 12 Steps that were originally developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The 12 steps include:

1. Admit powerlessness over addiction.

2. Find hope through a higher power or higher goal.

3. Turn the power to manage life over to the higher power.

4. Analyze the self and behaviors objectively, described as taking a moral inventory.

5. Share the results of the analysis with another person or the higher power.

6. Prepare to allow the higher power to remove the negative aspects discovered in the analysis.

7. Ask the higher power for these negative aspects to be removed.

8. Make a list of wrongs done to others.

9. Make amends for those wrongs, as long as it is not harmful to the recipient to do so.

10. Make self-analysis, removal of faults, and amends regular practices.

11. Meditate or pray for the continued ability to recover.

12. Help others in need to go through the same process. According to a study from the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, cognitive restructuring – or the ability to change thought patterns in ways that also change behavior – is an important element of substance abuse treatment. The study shows that 12-Step programs can enable cognitive restructuring around substance abuse and similar behaviors. This type of work makes it possible for people to change their behavioral patterns concerning their substance abuse.

Editor’s note: The Sidney Daily News will be publishing a weekly series of articles about Samaritan Works and how the organization helps residents maintain their sobriety, whether it’s from drugs or alcohol.

SIDNEY — The non-profit, Christian based organization, Samaritan Works, operates Serenity House and Amelia House, male and female sober living homes, and Horizon House, a graduate house. These homes are dedicated to promoting the recovery of men and women who have become addicted to alcohol and/or drugs and now want a way to find sobriety and hang on to it.

“Basically the homes provides a whole life recovery plan that is targeted to help each individual achieve faith, sobriety and independent living. It is more than a place to sleep, but a home that intentionally fosters life changes and takes great responsibility in leading our residents toward a successful recovery. We understand how tough it is to stay sober,” said Sheila Lundy, Samaritan Works executive director.

To that end, one of program’s requirement is that residents connect to a church of their choosing and attend lots of NA or AA meetings and work with a sponsor to complete the 12 steps.

Often a parent may call or come to Samaritan Works wanting recovery for their adult child.

“If the alcoholic or addict is not ready for this opportunity, they will undoubtedly fail – either leaving the house on their own or being removed for rule violations,” Lundy explained. “What is unique about Samaritan Works is that we also provide support to families by providing education and resources available in the community.”

Lundy shared a letter she received from a mother who sought help from Samaritan Works two years ago.

My son had gotten his second DUI in a very short time, and I brought him to Samaritan Works to see if he could move into Serenity House. After the Director explained how the program worked, I thought it sounded perfect for him, but my son said he did not have a drinking problem and he wasn’t interested.

The Director said that my son’s recovery would only be possible if he wanted sobriety. It could and would not work if his Mom wanted recovery for him. She then suggested that I attend an Al-Anon Beginner’s meeting, a mutual support program for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

I remember so well the words I struggled to speak through my tears at my first Al-Anon meeting: “My son is an alcoholic. Something very sad has happened to my son over time. He used to be so outgoing, and now he is a loner, and he is such a mystery to me. He has a chronic illness, is on five medications to help control the effect of his illness and drinks whiskey every day. I feel so guilty for what I did and didn’t do, what I said and what I didn’t say when he was growing up. No matter how much love and concern I show my son, I can’t free him from the demon of addiction. No matter how hard I fight, the addiction always wins, leaving me alone with my anger, frustration, fear, helplessness, and hopelessness. What did I do wrong as a Mom?”

A mother at the Al-Anon meeting handed me a tissue and said, “You did nothing, absolutely nothing wrong and I am so sorry you feel this way. You didn’t cause it. You can’t control it. You can’t cure it. But, with the help and support of Al-Anon Family Group, you can learn to cope. From the time your son was small, alcoholism was written in his bones. The -isms were there before the alcohol was, and I bet if you ask your son, he would tell you that he always felt awkward, out of place, like his skin didn’t quite fit. I would guess his first taste of alcohol was love at first sip because he finally felt like he fit in. Then he began drinking to keep the pain of life at arm’s length. And there is no way you could have prevented him from taking a sip of a substance that is perfectly legal. If you keep coming back to Al-Anon, we will share with you the spiritual principles, simple actions, you can practice each and every day to improve the quality of your life and the lives of those people you come into contact with.”

I have been going to AlAnon meetings twice a week for the past two years. As Al-Anon members, we tell our stories, and as the meetings go by, we become a community, bound together by our grief and our guilt, our shame and our soul-sickness, our fear and our pain. We discover that we’re not alone. And that makes all the difference. By applying the Al-Anon steps and principles and sharing our experience, strength and hope, we can bring positive changes to our individual situations, whether or not our alcoholic admits the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help.

I know to many in the community your homes and ministry may seem like a foolish attempt to help people who will never change, but I want you to know your suggestion two years ago changed me. Twelve Step programs work.

“That letter really touched my heart because this writer summed up so well why Samaritan Work’s Serenity House and Amelia House are all about,” said Lyndy. “As our residents tell their stories to one another and as days go by, they become a community, bound together by their grief and their guilt, their shame and their soul-sickness, their fear and their pain. They did not choose a chaotic life of addiction, and they discover they are not alone. And that makes all the difference. By sharing common experiences, attending NA and AA meetings, and by working with a sponsor who helps them apply the AA and NA spiritual principles, they create positive change to their individual situations.”

Lundy said she began regularly attending noon NA meetings and watched people and their lives being transformed by what they referred to as their Higher Power doing for them what them could not do for themselves.

Lundy summed up what she witnessed in the NA rooms this way, “I believe there are as many definitions of genuine spiritual awakenings as there are people who have had them in the rooms of twelve step programs. I witnessed it personally in one of the females at our house, suddenly, she could do, feel, and believe that which she could not do before on her unaided strength and resources alone. She had been granted a gift – radical, divine grace – which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. In a very real sense, the twelve-step program has given her a new way of thinking and living. Suddenly her life was set on a path where she is really going somewhere; she is setting all kinds of goals, ones that I didn’t even think were possible when I first met her.”

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How 12-Step programs work

The basic idea of the 12-Step program is to give people struggling with addiction a process through which to understand and manage their substance use disorders, as well as to find social support for recovery through others who are dealing with the same struggles.

Through group meetings with others who are in the program, a person who joins a 12-Step group is guided through the 12 Steps that were originally developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The 12 steps include:

1. Admit powerlessness over addiction.

2. Find hope through a higher power or higher goal.

3. Turn the power to manage life over to the higher power.

4. Analyze the self and behaviors objectively, described as taking a moral inventory.

5. Share the results of the analysis with another person or the higher power.

6. Prepare to allow the higher power to remove the negative aspects discovered in the analysis.

7. Ask the higher power for these negative aspects to be removed.

8. Make a list of wrongs done to others.

9. Make amends for those wrongs, as long as it is not harmful to the recipient to do so.

10. Make self-analysis, removal of faults, and amends regular practices.

11. Meditate or pray for the continued ability to recover.

12. Help others in need to go through the same process. According to a study from the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, cognitive restructuring – or the ability to change thought patterns in ways that also change behavior – is an important element of substance abuse treatment. The study shows that 12-Step programs can enable cognitive restructuring around substance abuse and similar behaviors. This type of work makes it possible for people to change their behavioral patterns concerning their substance abuse.