How Can I Successfully Navigate 12-Step Meetings?

How Can I Successfully Navigate 12-Step Meetings?

Committing to a 12-Step program can be intimidating for many recovering individuals. In these sessions, people are expected to share personal histories and vulnerabilities. So if you’re hesitant to commit, how should you best navigate this reluctance?

Like most treatment programs, a 12-Step peer support group is designed with certain purposes. It might take you some time to adjust to the initial discomfort. However, if you work closely with the therapist or facilitator, these meetings can become a pillar in your recovery journey.

Effectiveness of 12-Step Programs

In the field of addiction recovery, 12-Step programs have been widely considered one of the golden standards because of how effective this method has proven to be. How effective it is, of course, depends on your level of commitment and participation. In addition, the program is structured to address deeper causes of addiction, including purpose, self-worth, and hopelessness.

Because of its proven success, 12-Step programs have spread to several community wellness programs and addiction treatment centers. Research shows a highly positive relationship between participation in a 12-Step group and clinical improvement in health and recovery. In addition, practitioners find this recovery method to be the most readily available, low-cost, and community-based resource for all recovering individuals.

Success of 12-Step Programs

Part of the underlying philosophy of the 12-Step program includes accepting addiction as a disease that takes self-determination to heal. It draws out people’s spiritual strength while minimizing self-centeredness. Additionally, it calls for recovering individuals to make amends with those they have harmed in the process of substance abuse. Although many 12-Step programs use slightly religious language, the philosophy can be understood in many ways and still applies to most people.

When an individual has been using drugs or alcohol for a certain time, their emotions often become blunted, and they withdraw from social interactions. As a result, many people experience a decline in their cognitive, interpersonal, and communication abilities. Even more than these surface problems, individuals may also experience a strong sense of hopelessness and low self-worth.

Active Ingredients in the 12-Step Program Design

The spiritual foundations of the 12-Step philosophy affirm a person’s worth before a higher power of their understanding. They also encourage honesty and humility, which are antidotes to denial. When a person regains self-esteem and overcomes denial, they are on the path toward recovery. These are the core “active ingredients” of the program.

The success of 12-Step groups, compared with other treatment methods, also lies in their focus on the importance of peer support. By encouraging individuals to share personal experiences with others on a similar journey openly, a therapist can enact the power of personal testimonies and empathy to build a community of mutual support, accountability, and encouragement. 

Strong peer support and accountability are what every recovering individual needs to maintain sobriety. Hearing peers share coping skills with proven results can be more powerful and motivating than other therapy coaching sessions. Individuals who commit to regular meetings with peers may no longer feel alone with their problems. There is hope for healing.

Keeping Up Full Participation

Believe it or not, many people feel a sense of reluctance regarding 12-Step participation. High commitment and consistent attendance at 12-Step meetings do not happen automatically. During recovery, individuals may experience fluctuations in motivation and commitment to change. Alternatively, they may not feel compatible with belief in a higher power. Sometimes lack of comfort in group meetings can also become a barrier.

First, these hesitations are all normal, and no one who feels this way is alone. Secondly, individuals can express these concerns to trusted health professionals. A therapist or counselor may suggest they try a different 12-Step group or go in more openmindedly. It is about finding the right fit for each person’s needs and comfort level. One experience shouldn’t dictate one’s decision.

12-Steps and Therapy

If someone has gradually stabilized commitment in a 12-Step program, does it mean that other therapies and treatments take second place? Each treatment method has its strengths, and everyone has different needs during the journey of recovery. When a particular need can be met by a certain program, whether it is peer support meetings or family therapy, one can focus on that method.

Peer group support can be considered a sobriety maintenance effort, and individuals may always need it no matter how long they have been in recovery. However, sometimes people need more individualized treatment and care. For example, individual therapy with a trained counselor focuses more on an individual’s specific issues and provides more privacy.

This isn’t to say that one is better than the other. Group support and one-on-one counseling both have their place. Sometimes, one might need to take precedence over the other, but they can be complementary and mutually beneficial.

The 12-Step program is an effective means of release prevention. However, even people who have been in recovery for years can still struggle with the possibility of relapse. Committing to a 12-Step group can require a leap of faith and discipline, but it is worth the effort. Laguna Shores Recovery offers strong peer support group therapy. We apply evidence-based treatment and adopt an integrated and holistic approach to recovery. Alongside 12-Step groups, customized treatment plans, family therapy, and support groups, Laguna Shores Recovery also offers aftercare programs that connect you and your loved one with a community of recovering individuals. Early intervention is key. Do not delay treatment. Call us at (866) 774-1532 today.