Misconceptions About 12-Step Programs

Misconceptions About 12-Step Programs

Have you joined a 12-Step program? If not, what are your hesitations? Given the many myths and misconceptions about 12-Step programs, maybe it is best to start by knowing more about them. Even if you are not operating under denialism about addiction treatment, these misconceptions can still influence your decision in utilizing the best care. If you happen to drop by, Laguna Shores Recovery Center always has staff to help you understand our excellent 12-Step program here.

Misconception #1: 12-Step Programs Are for Religious Folks

This is probably the most common myth about 12-Step programs. Although it originated from the practice of Christian faith tradition in the 1930s, this program’s modern version has been adapted for a general audience. Even though you may see words like “higher power” mentioned in the 12-Step principles, it does not mean you need to be religious. 

In reality, many people who are agnostic or atheist attend secular 12-Step groups. The good thing about the program is its flexibility to operate outside of a religious framework. It is strength-based and values honesty and humility. These are the building blocks of a robust recovery program. Laguna Shores Recovery Center makes sure that the 12-Step program is integrated into a plan with other treatment methods.

Misconception #2: 12-Step Programs Are for People Who Have No Other Way Out

Many people feel uncomfortable when reading one of the core tenets of the 12-Step program; “We admitted that we were powerless over substances — that our lives had become unmanageable.” This declaration of “powerlessness” in front of others may even feel insulting. Therefore, some people consider this as a program for the weak or those who see no other way out. 

Quite the contrary, 12-Step programs are based on individual agency and strengths. The purpose of the statement quoted above is to invite humility. Oftentimes, recovering individuals struggle with both low self-esteem and pride. Their underlying assumption is still that recovery is a matter of willpower. Humility dismantles the illusion of willpower.

Misconception #3: 12-Step Programs Are Too Negative

Other core tenets of 12-Step programs include “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” and “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of a higher power”. These may strike many newcomers to the program as too negative and almost demeaning. 

Again, humility is the foundation for not just addiction recovery, but any path of personal growth. Let’s face it. The reality of substance addiction is brutal. Your life has been out of control. Family and friends have been heartbroken about your changed behaviors. Unless you face the devastating effects of addiction on your health and the loved ones around you, you will not be committed to change.

Misconception #4: 12-Step Programs Force You to Share Secrets With Strangers

12-Step meetings do follow certain structures to allow open sharing and updates from fellow recovering individuals. Facilitators strive to maintain a safe space. If you are not ready to share personal struggles, it is perfectly fine to just sit there and listen to others. Getting to know people who have similar emotional struggles during recovery can greatly empower the listener.

When you begin to share, there are also confidentiality terms in place to make sure your “secrets” are safe. If you have tasted the “bitterness” of addiction, then you know that secrecy does not help. Just like sunlight is the best disinfectant, openly sharing your experiences can remove the shame and guilt that often hold you back on this journey.

Misconception #5: They Have Too Many People to Be Effective

As a group therapy, the 12-Step program design utilizes peer-to-peer support. If you expect to get more individual attention, then other therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are also available. These approaches can be combined because they complement each other. 

There are also personalized features in 12-Step programs, such as the assignment of sponsors. A sponsor is a long-time recovering individual who has been with the 12-Step group for a long duration of time. He or she plays a mentor role to spend one-on-one time with you. In reality, 12-Step programs have been very successful. Because of its effectiveness, the 12-Step program has become a golden standard for almost every addiction recovery facility.

Misconception #6: They Are Not Scientific

Many people hesitate to join a 12-Step program because they consider it as “just a group of people talking with each other.” It does not appear to them that any evidence-based procedures are in place. The same logic may also apply to the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy or psychotherapy in general. Are they scientific or evidence-based if it mainly involves talking?

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, whether in individual or group format, can be effective in treating mental health challenges because these methods apply scientifically validated methods to the conversations. Trained therapists will work with you to identify thought patterns that are the products of a diseased brain. Talking through emotions helps brain healing.

12-Step programs are effective group therapies when treating many types of addictions. If you or a loved one deals with addiction issues, a 12-Step program may help. Do not let common misconceptions about 12-Step programs stop you from experiencing its many benefits. Consult health experts first. Addiction is a chronic health condition that must be treated with care, dignity, and respect. We believe that it takes a staff of caring and professional experts to deliver the kind of treatment that you deserve. At Laguna Shores Recovery Center, our experienced mental health specialists and addiction recovery experts have helped many people. We offer treatment plans such as detox, medication, 12-Step groups, and relationship skills coaching. Call (866) 774-1532.