Research shows that 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) are vital to a strong recovery plan and long-term sobriety. While they are not a counseling or treatment program, 12-step groups do offer help in factors associated with long-term sobriety:
- Access to a solid support network, which helps decrease isolation and shame. The size of the network of people supportive of recovery is a key sign of whether a person will succeed or fail in recovery attempts;
- An acceptance of powerlessness over addiction. Some may claim that using the term “powerlessness” offers an excuse for addicts to not take personal responsibility. Powerlessness, in actuality, is a reflection of structural, functional, and chemical changes in the brain. Sobriety can help the brain retrain itself in a healthy manner.
- Potential mentors, sponsors, and sobriety buddies to share their stories, break denial, and offer accountability. Members benefit from each other’s experience, strength and hope;
- Anonymity. A safe, non-judgmental place for members to share openly about personal and potentially painful issues in their lives;
- Service to others, as an avenue to connect with others and confront feelings of uselessness or worthlessness;
- A commitment to a lifestyle change, as members define recovery as making healthy lifestyle alterations and changing unhealthy thinking patterns, as opposed to only stopping an undesirable behavior;
- Connection with a Higher Power – The 12-step philosophy sees addiction as a spiritual illness (in addition to a disease of the brain and body) and thus offers guidance to developing a relationship with a personal and healing Higher Power. While the spiritual roots of the 12-step groups are grounded in Christian tenets, a higher power can be another religious entity or simply the power of the group to help the member gain sobriety.
In addition, 12-step groups are cost-effective, which grants access to those with little or no financial resources. Those who combine traditional addiction treatment and 12-Step groups are more likely to achieve long-term recovery than those who use either approach alone.
If you are struggling with addiction issues, meeting with a professional may be beneficial. Contact Community Presbyterian Counseling Center, located in San Ramon, California if you would like help dealing with addiction issues.