It Is OK and Nothing Is Wrong With YOU If a 12-Step Program Does Not Work For You. It’s Why We Have “Choices Of What Works For Us.”

It Is OK and Nothing Is Wrong With YOU If a 12-Step Program Does Not Work For You. It’s Why We Have “Choices Of What Works For Us.”

“Now, we all know there is nothing wrong with you if for some reason a 12-Step program or meetings are just not enough to help you recover from any ADDICTION of say, Gambling, Alcohol, Drugs, Porn, any addictions. And there has been a lot of “Debate” about this for a long time by many groups and die-hard 12-steppers in my 12-years of maintaining recovery and I been to many AA and GA, Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

Especially when I had a negative experience a few times in a GA meeting where a few long-timers got in an actual “Shouting Match” in front of attendees, as some just happen to be newcomers! Very wrong to DO and THAT was not following the by-laws of how a 12-step meeting should be … So when I came across this new article in one of my favorite Recovery Magazines called The Fix and this  article about “There is nothing wrong with YOU if AA, and I’ll include NA and GA, 12-step program doesn’t WORK for you.”

Look, it’s OK to choose the recovery path YOU WANT and WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. And even though I had a BAD experience with my Gamblers Anonymous meeting? I still went back and used it as a form of SUPPORT and to be like-minded recovering gamblers, BUT? Knew it wasn’t going to BE the only help and treatment option I needed for my addictions to gambling and alcohol abuse. Here is what The Fix Article says about a 12-step program and if it works or not works for you …  ~Catherine Lyon

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There is hope

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There’s Nothing Wrong With You If AA Doesn’t Work

By Olivia Pennelle 02/03/19

“It isn’t that you’re incapable of being honest with yourself, or that you’re not working a “program” well enough. You are not too broken, or too far gone.”

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I spoke to a friend, Damien, last week. He was devastated at losing someone close to him to alcohol use disorder. What is particularly harrowing about this person’s passing is that it might have been prevented. Damien’s friend was repeatedly pushed toward Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), even though it clearly wasn’t the right fit for him. Just like many others, instead of being supported by peers and professionals and given alternative options, this friend was left feeling that the problem was him.

“It’s really frustrating to see friends die because the default treatment option doesn’t work for them,” Damien says. “We are losing far too many people with substance use disorder who find 12-step incompatible with their life experiences and belief systems.”

He goes on to say, “It’s not because they aren’t willing. It’s not because they can’t ‘get it.’ It’s because, for many people, treating addiction requires more than hope, spirituality, and fellowship. And yet, the only option most are presented with is founded on those three pillars. If the recommended treatment for bacterial infections had the same success rate as the 12 steps, then antibiotics would not be our go-to treatment plan for staph infections.”

My overarching message is: There is nothing wrong with you if AA doesn’t work. It isn’t that you’re incapable of being honest with yourself, or that you’re not working a “program” well enough. You are not too broken, or too far gone. You simply haven’t found the right pathway for you.

These kinds of beliefs stem from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which states: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” [emphasis added]

During my five years of attending countless AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, I have heard many members criticize those who come in and out of the rooms but return to using in between, categorizing them as unwilling, or incapable of being honest.“They just need to surrender to the program and work it like their life depends on it,” was the kind of statement I heard over and over again.

I threw myself into the program because there were no other options for me in the northwest of England. I was so desperate to find something that would help me that I believed anything members said, even if there was no evidence to back it up.

I did a fair amount of perpetuating these myths too. I was instructed to ignore my instincts and critical mind (because that was my “disease talking”), and do what I was told. Giving away my free will to a person in the sky or a church basement seemed weird, but I went with it for several years. After all, it had worked for many other members.

With a period of sobriety under my belt, I couldn’t ignore my inner doubts any longer. They became louder. It was as though, even after years in recovery, I suddenly woke up. And I started to slowly unpack all the myths I’d been told.

REVIVE DETOX  – Shares: 

“I think you’ll agree with us when we say:

Times have changed and not all addiction cases should be treated the same way.

Traditional 12 Step Programs are based on a relationship with a higher power, an external higher power.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “Medications should be combined with behavioral counseling for a “whole patient” approach, known as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).” and is an effective treatment for addiction.

Personality, personal values, history, underlying conditions, and other factors dictate what type of recovery program works best for an individual.

We empower clients to invest in their own recovery which aids each individual in taking responsibility for their behaviors and breeds self-reliance.”

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In particular, I tried to unpack “it works if you work it.” There is substantial evidence that shows there’s no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to recovery. If this program were suitable for everyone with substance use disorders, its success rate would be much higher. The fact is that success rates of 12-step programs vary wildly, from as low as 5 to 8 percent, with dropout rates from 69 to 86 percent … to as high as 42 percent after four years.

I should point out that these dropout rates are a reflection of the attrition rates of addiction treatment generally. This underscores the point that the way we treat addiction isn’t appropriate for everyone and we need to get better at personalizing care based on individual circumstances.

When I moved to the U.S., it was like my world opened up. I saw that despite what I’d been told in AA — that it was the only method for successful recovery — there was actually an open landscape of diverse recovery pathways.

A leading study shows that tens of millions of Americans have successfully resolved an alcohol or drug problem through a variety of traditional and nontraditional methods. That means:

  • 9 percent recovered with “assisted pathway use” that consisted of mutual-aid groups (45.1 percent), treatment (27.6 percent), and emerging recovery support services (21.8 percent). 95.8 percent of those who used mutual-aid groups attended 12-step mutual aid meetings.
  • Just under half of those who did not report using an assisted pathway recovered without the use of formal treatment and recovery supports.
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I’m aware that an ideal model of treatment, individualized based on the person’s particular medical and psychological needs, is not always available to most people. Not all of us have the luxury of therapeutic treatment from a psychologist or psychiatrist. This is another reason mutual-aid groups are the most accessible form of recovery pathway — they’re free!

We’re fortunate in the U.S. to have plenty of other support groups that are not all based on religion, and some have a solid evidence-based program. They include Refuge RecoveryLifeRing Secular RecoverySMART RecoveryModeration ManagementWellbriety — among many others listed here — and they have been shown to be equally as successful as 12-step groups.

study comparing 12-step groups to alternative mutual aid groups found that LifeRing, SMART, and Women for Sobriety were just as effective as 12-step groups. Study author Dr. Sarah Zemore and her team reported that “findings for high levels of participation, satisfaction, and cohesion among members of the mutual help alternatives suggest promise for these groups in addressing addiction problems.”

Despite my reporting about AA’s success rate and some of the myths perpetuated by the fellowship, I’m not here to bash AA. I’m here to shine a light on the false statement that it is the only successful way. There are many others.

For those AA does work for, I respect your path. We just need to have a clearer picture of what recovery looks like so when someone is suffering, instead of saying they are the problem, we can be better informed to direct them to what may be a more suitable pathway.

After all, we all have the same goal: recovery.

 

 

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Stay Safe Tonight …Stay Sober, Clean, and Bet Free on New Year’s Eve! Tips To Help as I’ve Been There – Done That …

Happy Almost New Year Recovery Friends and Visitors! Welcome, that You Found ME!

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I wanted to round out my being on Holiday Watch and Blogging all through the HOLIDAYS which includes through New Year’s EVE! Look, those of us maintaining recovery NEED to FEEL and know ….WE ARE NOT Missing Out on all the partying or waking up on another New Year’s Day strung out, hungover, our financially broke!

We know we are WORTH and DESERVE Much better Then THAT … But many feel left out or feel they are missing out. Not the case at all. We always need to make sure and take a look back at the WORST of our addicted days and holidays to know we have come along way from those “diseased” hauntings. That was the disease of ADDICTION Running our lives, made our lives unmanageable and took right over …

Not Anymore… And those who have longer-time maintaining recovery know this as TRUTH. We have done and continue to do the work necessary to keep our recovery intact and especially around the holidays. We then “Pay It Forward” and pass on that Wisdom and recovery lessons learned to those who are New and may just be starting Recovery. You are not alone and there are many caring and supportive people willing and ready to be of HELP and SHARE HOPE like me! ~Advocate, Catherine Lyon

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4 Quick Tips for Staying Sober and Avoiding FOMO on New Year’s Eve

By Kelly Fitzgerald Junco ~ The Fix Magazine 

“FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out—took enough away from me in my addiction. I spent countless nights wishing I hadn’t gone out or drunk as much as I did. In sobriety, I’ve never regretted not going to the party.”

If there is one thing that describes my addiction, it was the yearning for connection. Ironic, isn’t it? The thing I spent the most time striving for is the thing that I ultimately couldn’t get, even from the substances that I thought were helping me find it.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be popular. In 5th grade, I remember the girls who were considered “cool” inviting people to their “boy-girl” party. I patiently waited for an invitation that never came. Then in middle school, my peers started getting boyfriends and girlfriends and slow dancing at school dances, but I was never included. I did everything I could to make it seem like I should be included in these exclusive pastimes, but I never felt like I succeeded… until I started drinking.

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(A new year should symbolize growth, bettering yourself, or beginning again. Don’t let FOMO take that away from you.)

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Taking shots, chugging beer, puke, and rally; these dangerous drinking habits are what ultimately gave me the street cred I needed to become part of the in-crowd. Boys finally found me cool and desirable and girls wanted to be friends with me. This theme followed my entire drinking career. I evolved from a scared child with a couple of friends to an outgoing woman with more friend groups than you could count. Keeping up with my new reputation was exhausting, but it’s how I lived throughout my entire time at college.

When I first heard about FOMO — Fear Of Missing Out — something in me clicked and I realized this was the feeling I always got when I couldn’t stand not being at the party. FOMO was what motivated me to drink every night from Wednesday through Sunday during college. I needed to be at every outing and party because if I wasn’t, I risked my popular, cool-girl reputation. I risked not seeing the drama or hearing the gossip. Just like the acronym-dubbed phenomenon, I was fearful I’d miss something, and I couldn’t let that happen.

Now that I’m sober, I’ve realized that so many of us former drinkers had an intimate relationship with FOMO. It’s often what drove our drinking. It can also be what drives our return to use, or our obsession with still going to the places and parties we frequented while we were in active addiction. The holidays can be an especially daunting time for FOMO. In particular, New Year’s Eve is known for lavish and booze-filled celebrations. If you’re sober and worried about FOMO creeping in this NYE, here are some tips to help you play it safe.

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HAVE A PLAN READY:

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1. Plan something new and different. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to make plans in sobriety. Instead of the same old drunken ball-drop open-bar nightclub or wine-infested awkward house party, you get to decide what your New Year’s plans are and they don’t have to include any of those things. You get to plan something fun, new, and exciting. You could travel to a new place, visit a zoo, volunteer at a homeless shelter, watch fireworks, or host your own alcohol-free party. The point is, the decision is yours and your plans don’t have to be anything like they were during your drinking years. Plan something new and different to look forward to. You could even invite your friends and family to your non-alcohol-centered event and avoid FOMO altogether.

2. Read up on the concept of romanticizing. Yes, I’m telling you to Google “romanticize.” This is something we occasionally do about our drinking when we’re sober. We often remember the best and more fun parts of our drinking, but not the times it made us feel horrible or our worst hangovers. I’ve also heard these rose-colored memories referred to as “euphoric recall.” It’s good to have an awareness about this extremely common tactic of our mind. Remember the truth! Just because other people are out there binge drinking or going to events with alcohol doesn’t mean you have to. Just because you used to have fun at these types of events doesn’t mean you will in sobriety. Just because society tries to tell us we need alcohol to have fun does not make it true! Trust yourself. Don’t romanticize any substances you’ve tried hard to leave behind.

3. Give yourself a pep talk. You are one smart person. You know that FOMO is a concept that begins and ends in your mind. It’s a feeling just like any other that will come and then go. If you’re struggling with drinking, I can tell you there is nothing fun to go back to. Drinking again won’t make your NYE any more memorable or special. In reality, you’re unlikely to remember most (or all) of it. You live differently now and it’s time to accept that NYE will be different and that can be a blessing.

If you’re staying sober and debating going to a New Year event where the alcohol might overwhelm you, I’m here to tell you that you will not die if you don’t go to this event. Missing one event won’t change your life or the world. You can always get the lowdown from your friends who do go. I promise there’s nothing at that party that’s so wonderful it will make up for how you’ll feel if you end up drinking.

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4. Imagine the future. In the scheme of the entire world, NYE is just one holiday on one day of the year. Of course, it marks the end of 365 days of your life and that’s special, but there are so many other beautiful ways to celebrate a transition of this magnitude. You could make lists and read books and write in your journal and perform a moon ritual! You could go to a yoga retreat or a sober meet-up. It’s not your fault that society has tricked us into believing New Year’s Eve is a drinking holiday where we need to have a champagne toast at midnight. But it is your responsibility to carve out a new path for yourself on NYEs to come. Imagine your future: would you be happy to give up all your hard-earned sobriety for one night? For one party? For one New Year?

A new year should symbolize growth, bettering yourself, or beginning again. Don’t let FOMO take that away from you.

FOMO took enough away from me in my addiction. I spent countless nights wishing I hadn’t gone out or drunk as much as I did. In sobriety, I’ve never regretted not going to the party. Every time I think I’m going to miss out on something, I never do. I end up doing something better or more satisfying with my time. I end up missing situations, people, and places that aren’t good for me anyway. I miss out on drama, gossip, and drinking.

This NEW YEAR’S EVE, ditch the FOMO and make sure you aren’t missing out on Sobriety.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR RECOVERY FRIENDS!!

Guest Holiday Article From ‘The Fix.’ Is A 12-Step Program All You Have In Your Life? By Katie MacBride

I am starting my New Recovery Holiday Article Share series with an interesting topic and question. As in many Gamblers Anonymous meetings I have attended, I have heard some say that they gave up all their friends and are only friends with their GA, AA, or NA pals that they meet. They only go to 12-step functions like dances, holiday parties and more.  I don’t know if that is a healthy and well-balanced recovery. DO YOU?  Does AA, GA, Na or others have to be your life?

We have had the talk here before if 12-Step Programs is the only way to recovery from addiction, and most said no not really.  Now please, I am not knocking the 12-steps at all. My experience was I attended to be with other like -minded people looking to recover and as support. So let’s read another perspective about this and share how you feel about this in my comments. I like to know what others in recovery have to say. So share your VOICE  .  .  .  .


Does AA Have to Be My Life?
By Katie MacBride of The Fix Magazine

Dear Katie,

“Have you ever heard someone in the rooms say that we live AA and visit life? My sponsor tells me that but sometimes I have a hard time with it because I don’t feel like I got sober just to go to AA all the time, I got sober so that I could live my life. But she seems to believe that you get sober through AA so you have to live the AA triangle all the time. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with that because I think the point of AA is to bring the principles with you into how you handle your everyday life. Could you offer your opinion on that?”

Spend enough time in or around 12-step programs and you’ll have aphorisms coming out your ears. Many of these are useful—whether or not one is in a 12-step program or not. (I’m a big fan of HALT, even though I thought it was incredibly stupid when I first heard it—more on that here.)

I always think of Sandra Bullock in the movie 28 Days when she’s mocking her treatment counselor for telling her to take it “one day at a time.” She scoffs, “‘One day at a time,’ what is that? I mean like two, three days at a time is an option? I don’t need the Romper Room bullshit.”

All the “Romper Room bullshit” can be annoying as hell, especially when the person reciting it seems way too cheerful and peppy for somebody, not on drugs, a drinker, or addicted gambler. There’s a reason for those irritating sayings, though. When something happens that makes us consider drinking or using, we often don’t have time for lengthy, well-reasoned arguments about why it’s a bad idea.

If we’re lucky, we have time to get one annoyingly oversimplified and yet somehow appropriate saying between our ears. That one phrase has to be easily accessible through the fog of our craving and snap us back to reality. It has to remind us of what it was like when we were drinking and using, and why we work so hard to stay sober. It turns out those quippy little Romper Room quotes are great for that. I’m not familiar with the saying “live in AA and visit life,” but what I have heard—and am guessing your sponsor means—is “don’t put the life AA gave you in front of your AA life.”

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This, like many of the aphorisms, can seem both confusing and annoying. What is the difference between the life AA gave you and your AA life? Isn’t it all just…your life? Or, as you more eloquently put it, isn’t the “point of AA to bring the principles with you into how you handle your everyday life”? The short answer is yes. We get sober so we can live our lives. The tools that we learn in recovery, whether through a 12-step program or some other treatment program, are skills that you’ll take into the world with you as you go along in your everyday life.

Your sponsor (if I am understanding her correctly) is also right, in that you can’t get complacent about recovery. This is one of the biggest points of contention among those who dislike AA. It’s a cult, some folks will say, they make you go to meetings forever! They tell you to put AA before anything else! How can you live a normal life if you’re supposed to be focused on AA for the rest of it? These are the kind of claims that can make someone trying to figure out the new and complicated world of sobriety overwhelmed and completely freaked out. So let’s break down what it means.

Without getting into the disease controversy, or the “is AA, GA, or NA the best method” controversy, there is one thing about addiction and recovery that are unequivocally true:

If you want to no longer be actively addicted to something, you need to behave, and ultimately think, differently than you did when you were actively addicted. It sounds simple, but anyone who has tried to do it can attest to how difficult it is to accomplish. So the goal of any recovery program (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, AA, SMART Recovery) is to help an addict break their long established patterns of substance use.

It doesn’t end at just breaking the habits, though. Another thing you’ll hear people in recovery say is, “Getting sober is easy, staying sober is hard.” I don’t know that I’d ever call getting sober “easy,” but we often have more motivation to get sober than we do to stay sober. When I had ravaged my life as a result of my drinking, I had no choice but to build from ground zero up.

If I needed a reminder as to why I shouldn’t drink, all I had to do was look at the barren wasteland around me and the rubble beneath my feet. As I rebuilt my life, the barren wasteland changed into a vibrant city. My world was (and is) now comprised of people, places, and things and it’s tempting to become lost in that. There’s nothing wrong with living a full life outside your program of recovery, but there may be a danger becoming so preoccupied with it that you stop doing the WORK to maintain that recovery.

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People who undergo treatment for depression with a combination of therapy, medication, and exercise may not maintain that program with the same vigilance 10 years down the road as they did when they first entered treatment, but some ongoing maintenance will likely always be necessary.

The same is true for addiction. But addiction is a sneaky jerk, and alcohol and drug use are so commonplace that it’s not hard to forget that as addicts, we can’t use those things with impunity. I got sober at 23 years old and I can’t count the number of times I’ve wondered “maybe it was just a phase and I could drink ‘normally’ now,” even though I have literally no evidence to support that thought and abundant evidence to the contrary.

It’s also easy to get wrapped up in what being an addict/alcoholic means for the rest of your life. At the risk of tossing my own Romper Room slogan into the mix: try not to worry about it and take it…yep…one day at a time. Keep doing what’s working for you now. Remember what your life was like before sobriety and do what you need to do to hold on to your recovery.

The rest will work itself out.


Please visit Author, Katie MacBride over at The Fix Magazine and get all your questions answered about addiction and recovery.

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author, and Columnist at “In Recovery Magazine’s The Author’s Cafe.”  My ebook is now on Sale at  Amazon Kindle Store  . . . .