Do the 12 Steps Really Work?

So, you are wondering if the 12 steps really work? Well, I guess that depends on what you consider to “work.” In my opinion, I do believe that the 12 steps work, but I also want to define some things first before we get into why I think they work.

My Old Solution
The solution to my problem was and still is the 12 steps. What I mean is that when I stopped using drugs and alcohol then I had to relearn how to live much of life. This sounds like a pretty intimidating statement, but it’s the same as a cliché that I’m sure you may have heard, “There’s only one thing in recovery that you have to change, everything.”

My Problem
Now, if drugs and alcohol were my solution to my problem, then what was my problem? This could simply be defined as a need for controlling exactly how I wanted to feel all the time. So, the simple solution to my problem would be either to stop that mindset altogether when I stopped using drugs or find another way to keep having control over my feelings.
Before I go on, let’s talk about the control that I had to have over my feelings when I was using drugs and why I see that as my problem. The reason I believe my problem was an issue of controlling my feelings can be summed up by another cliché that you may have heard, “whether it was raining or snowing or your birthday or my birthday, it didn’t matter, I had to use drugs and alcohol.” This phrase really does a great job of explaining that no matter what was going on in life, using drugs and alcohol was a part of the process for most addicts. I’d like to take this concept a little bit further now by saying that no matter what was going on in life, I had to use drugs in order to control the feeling associated with that moment. For example, if I was on a roller coaster ride and I was feeling excited and happy, then I wanted to use drugs to feel even more excitement and happiness. Or another example is, if I had just experienced a break-up in a relationship, then I wanted to numb out my feelings altogether by using drugs. So, the point here is, rather than just letting my natural feelings happen in life, I had to manipulate them constantly with drugs and alcohol.

My New Solution
The solution to my problem is the 12 steps and that’s why I think they work. What this means can be very personal to someone, but I will say that in my experience I had to go through the 12 steps with a sponsor and do it the way they suggested in order for it become the solution to my problem. Doing the 12 steps didn’t just mean writing or answering questions for my sponsor, but it meant starting to learn new ways to react, behave and think. If using drugs was my solution to everything, then I needed to learn a new solution to everything which came with the knowledge and application that doing the 12 steps taught me. This doesn’t mean that the 12 steps taught me some secret information in order to live a perfect life. This just means that some principles and concepts were easier for me to understand at this point in my life because of what the 12 steps had done for me.

The 12 Steps Work
So, let’s get back to what I mean when I say the 12 steps work. I mean that they have helped and continue to help me live a better life. When I was using drugs and alcohol, my life seemed pretty destructive and negative in almost every way. Without drugs and alcohol, my life was starting to get better, but at times still seemed pretty destructive and negative in a lot of ways. Eventually, when I worked the 12 steps, then my life started to change for the better and I could start to see a lot more positive growth in myself. For example, the notion of being able to stop and think before I reacted to an uncomfortable situation was possible for me after I started working the 12 steps. Another example that the 12 steps was working in my life, was that I could start to live life without needing distractions all the time. I didn’t need to constantly have the T.V. on or the radio blasting, I could sometimes just sit in quiet and be okay with it. These are just a couple of small examples that were evidence to me in early recovery that the 12 steps do work.
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