Saturday, September 12, 2009

12-Step Recovery

Chances are you're familiar with self-help recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous. There are many such programs patterned after the original one, AA, founded in 1935. Twelve Step programs have enabled millions of people around the world to recover from a seeming hopeless condition of mind and body. AA has been called the most outstanding social movement of the 20th Century.

Unless you're a member of one of these meetings and are working the steps outlined in the textbook of Alcoholics Anonymous, you probably are unaware of what people actually do to recover. More than a fellowship where people congregate to share their experience, strength and hope, 12-step programs require action on a daily basis.

The first step is crucial, because without admitting a problem, the individual would have no motivation to do any of the other steps. Step one involves an acceptance that one's body responds differently than other people. At the same time, step one also requires an admission that one cannot manage life alone.

If a person has fully conceded to their innermost self this admission of powerless, then how is it possible to live? The answer lies in seeking a Power greater than oneself for guidance and direction. Here the spiritual side of 12-step recovery becomes paramount. The rest of the steps are based on the desire to seek and know a Higher Power that will solve all one's problems.

Before one can fully establish a working relationship with that Power, and individual has to take stock honestly of the obstacles that get in the way of living life on life's terms. Also, it's imperative that the person clear away the wreckage of the past and make peace with family members, friends, and business associates present and in the past. Having done so, the individual is graced with new found peace of mind, intuition, and power to find happiness, joy and freedom.

I've been in recovery for 23 years. The first 13 years I mainly focused on the fellowship, although I did read about the steps and had tried working them on a limited basis. Ten years ago I discovered the directions on how to work the steps, got a sponsor to guide me, and took the suggested actions. The result? I was catapulted into a 4th dimension that I couldn't have imagined and take joy in living the solution.

Now I have the honor to share this program of action with other women who are sincerely seeking recovery. Just this summer alone I've listened to 3 women read their inventories and witness their spiritual growth. I'm currently working with a new person who is on fire working these steps. The desire to drink and drug has been lifted without her having to swear off. It just comes. That's the miracle of doing these steps.

Twelve-step recovery work has definitely been a major turning point in my life. It has opened me up to other spiritual avenues. To better know and do God's will, I meditate and pray on a daily basis. I observe the major holidays in my religion and attend services. I also appreciate being present when other people celebrate and mark their religious holidays.

My life goes more smoothly when I take time for spirituality. What do you do to stay spiritually focused and spiritually centered?

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