Should I Join a 12-Step Program?
References Sex Addicts Anonymous by International Service Organization of SAA, Inc.
Part of what makes conquering an addition so difficult is that information regarding what constitutes addiction behavior, and how to address it, is so little known. Addictions carry a lot of shame, so people are reluctant to talk about their experience going through it, even if they’ve managed to labor through them and achieve sobriety.
One of the best sources for help when dealing with addiction is a 12-step program. According to a study by the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center, addicts who attended Twelve Step meetings at least once a week are more likely than those who attend less frequently to remain sober.
Below are only a few of the other reasons this structure is often so helpful for addicts looking to get help for an addiction.
It is extraordinarily rare to come upon something you don’t have to be taught how to do. We learn how to do the most basic things: feed ourselves, walk, and wash from our caregivers. It’s unrealistic to think you could achieve something as complicated as sobriety alone, especially when it goes contrary to your own nature as an addict. If sobriety were so easy to achieve alone, luxury rehab facilities would not be such a lucrative business. There is no shame in asking for help, but there is a lot of misery and frustration to be found in trying to kick an addiction alone. The Twelve Steps provide the guidelines addicts need to understand the mechanism of addiction and how to overcome it.
Having people there with you through the process of coming to terms with your addiction makes it much more likely you will succeed. As Ecclesiastes encourages,
“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Because of the shame so often associated with addiction, it may seem more appealing to keep your efforts private. Particularly if you are concerned you might backslide. You don’t want to deal with the humiliation of anyone knowing you failed.
Unfortunately, the harder you work to keep your addiction to yourself, the more likely you are to fail in your efforts to overcome it. Twelve Step programs provide a support system for those days when you cannot do it alone. And there will be more of than days than you would like to imagine. Part of the reason addicts are so loathe to give up their vice is because it offers them solace or enjoyment they don’t get anywhere else. A Twelve Step support group offers a healthy substitute.
- Role Models
Few things give more hope to someone going through a trial than to see someone who survived the same circumstances, and is thriving. It gives you reason to hope that you too can achieve what they have. Meeting other addicts through a support group teaches you that you’re not alone. It alleviates some of the shame, because you have less reason to think you are the only person “weak” enough to succumb to this particular problem. It also gives you a source of ideas for how to approach certain issues. Sober advisers can tell you about what methods work for them in pursuing sobriety, and offer tips about what situations or behaviors to avoid in order to be successful.
Paul’s epistles in the New Testament often encourage a system of mentorship. He repeatedly exhorts more mature believers to set a good example and to guide newer Christians. Scripture recognizes the importance of humbling yourself in order to learn from those wiser than yourself.
Christian Counseling about Overcoming Addiction
If you want to overcome your addiction, joining a Twelve Step program is an excellent method. So is contacting a professional Christian counselor. They will use biblical principles and therapeutic techniques to help you understand your unique struggle with addiction, and how to fight it. Consider consulting a professional Christian counselor alongside your Twelve Step support group.
“Drug Free,” courtesy of Eneas De Troya, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Future Music Festival,” courtesy of Eva Rinaldi, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY-SA 2.0)