Acknowledging that you may have an issue with drugs and alcohol is the first step in recovery. But what comes next? For many, it is some form of addiction treatment program. And while seeking professional help is recommended, an important next step to take — whether you enter detox, go to rehab, get a therapist, or try to quit on your own — is to surround yourself with support.
While friends and loved ones should certainly be a part of your support circle, finding others who truly understand what you are going through is important. You may be wondering how you are going to find your recovery community. If this is all new to you, the idea of forming deep connections with others in recovery can be overwhelming. Fortunately, supportive recovery environments are out there. One of those is 12 Step fellowship, which includes Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12 Step based support groups.
12 Step based programs offer information, education and support for anyone pursuing sobriety, whether they have one day or 30 years of sobriety under their belt. The only requirement to attend a meeting is the desire to make a change for yourself. No matter what 12 Step group you attend, they all have the same goal — to help individuals recover from addiction in a non-judgmental, nurturing and guiding environment.
Here Are Some Benefits of 12 Step
You Gain New Perspectives
A main part of the 12 Step experience is listening to other members share their life stories, their struggles with drugs and alcohol, and their successes during recovery. As you learn from other’s experiences and allow others to imprint on your mind and heart, you develop insight into your own. 12 Step can also provide you with a new outlook on sobriety. Often, long-term sobriety seems unattainable, and for some, even restrictive, but seeing others thrive in recovery can help keep you motivated and show you all the positive things that sobriety can help you achieve.
You Form Lasting Connections
In Zulu culture, there is a term called “ubuntu,” which means “humanity,” also translated as “I am because we are.” We are stronger together rather than alone. By sharing your story and listening to the experiences of others, you become a member of a supportive community. You gain a sense of belonging and become more confident in your ability to overcome any challenges you may encounter in your recovery. By learning how to be vulnerable in front of a group, you learn to better communicate with your loved ones, allowing you to rebuild trust and strengthen your relationships. Aside from improving your existing relationships, the connections formed in 12 Step often become long-lasting friendships that help you stay sober and enrich every aspect of your life.
You Add Structure to Your Life
In active addiction, your day revolved around your desire to use. Cravings and loss of control may have hardwired you to want nothing but your substance of choice. In recovery, you may find that structure becomes a very important part of the daily routine. By attending 12 Step meetings, not only do you begin to form a schedule, but you add a sense of purpose to your day. Going to meetings keeps you focused on your recovery and self-care, reducing your risk of relapsing.
It Keeps You on Track
Being part of a recovery community keeps you engaged in your recovery and encourages you to make positive life choices. Forming connections and helping others on their own recovery journey brings added meaning, importance, and value to your life, helping you stay focused on your sobriety. As you learn about others, you discover things about yourself, gaining insight into your behavior and learning to establish boundaries and avoid triggers. For many, being a participant in 12 Step fellowship serves as a catalyst for personal growth, allowing them to embrace the changes that come with recovery.
So, are you ready to attend a meeting? While you may be hesitant to walk into a room full of strangers, know that no one is there to judge you. Everyone is looking to better themselves and help others do the same. So, get out of your comfort zone and find a meeting in your home town. Remember, recovery is a process — a journey on a road that you don’t have to travel alone.