12 steps.

AA and the 12 step program saved my life. I will forever be indebted to that society and that program – in so many ways, like it does for so many, it shone a light down my path to recovery that I just wouldn’t have been able to navigate on my own.

It, along with the support of loved ones and a harsh but ultimately essential period of residential rehab, formed the beginning of a life so rich in happiness and contentment that I dared not even dream of it.

So why have I felt the need to found my own program for addiction? Am I in competition with the 12 step programs that exist out there? Do I not believe they work? Should someone do the RCVRY program and not attend AA anymore? What’s the difference between the two programs? These are all valid questions, and ones that I get asked a lot. So I thought a blog post could help answer them, and as ever, invite conversation and discussion!

First up – I am in no way in competition with any of the fantastic 12 step programs out there. They saved my life and they continue to save lives every day. For many, they are the daily elixir of staying clean and not falling back into bad habits. The essence of the program has been around a long time, and such is it’s power and reach, you can find a 12 step group just about anywhere in the World now – even at the foothills of Mount Everest ( I am told! ).

I rarely attend AA anymore – but for years I did, and I definitely will do again periodically. That’s one of the many positives of these programs – you can drop in to most meetings, even if you have never been before, and immediately feel at home.

If you ever feel the temptation, or just need a top up or a reminder of why you’re in recovery – you can get along to a meeting and share, listen, absorb, chat – drink awful coffee and tea – a truly fantastic service open to us addicts. So no – i’m not in competition with AA, NA, GA or any of the other groups.

Second up – do I believe 12 step programs work? Here’s where I guess I’ll start to flirt with controversy – but do read my whole explanation before you pass judgement.

Yes I believe they work – but it depends on what level you’re asking they work. Do I believe a 12 step program alone can deliver you from addiction and nurture you to being the best person you can be? No. Definitely not. Should it? I don’t know in all honesty. I guess not, it’s not the job of that program to do all that – it’s the purpose of the 12 step program to help you find recovery, help you stay in recovery and help you help others .

The steps have been proven to work, and depending on where you look, there are a variety of statistics as to how well it works. I think it’s easy to forget that even the fact that a group of addicts can all assemble in a room at the same time on the same day every week, and be part of a ( in the most part ), organised meeting is a miracle in itself!

What these programs do give which is invaluable is a sense of community for an issue that is still largely ostracized by society. So the 12 step programs do deliver an awful lot….upto a point. I do also believe that whilst they can be a factor in helping you find recovery, I’m not convinced that it is the whole answer, and I’m not sure the program is designed to take you forward into a life post that initial recovery.

Many people feel it does and it has for them, but I feel the 12 steps bring you to a point – a good point – but not necessarily any further. I’m also not sure that because of the scale of the audience the 12 step programs address, that it is fit for purpose for everyone.

When I talk to people about where they’re at, and then start talking about the 5 elements of the RCVRY program, it soon becomes apparent that what they really need is a bespoke program based on their own situation and their own journey into – and out of  – addiction. I always recommend that attending 12 step meetings should be a part of the overall program, and having worked through the steps, I am in a good place to other advice and insight into what the steps mean ( or at least what they meant to me ) and discuss the fundamentals behind them.

Where RCVRY comes into its own is on two separate levels. Firstly – it is bespoke to the person. For this reason, and I guess it’s a downside, it can never be something that I can deliver to the mass market. It is not a one size fits all solution, it is structured path based on the individual and includes a lot of support.

Secondly, the program is designed to help get into recovery, maintain recovery ( and this is, to be fair what AA et al all do as well ), but then also to excel on the other side of recovery.

Through working the structure of RCVRY and addressing the 5 elements as they are relevant to your own life, you can not only feel confident in your recovery but you can also work towards being the best person you can be in every aspect of your life.

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