There are a great number of 12-step meetings in the world. Most of them are modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, a group that was formed in 1935 when two alcoholics saw the need for greater support in their recovery. They thought there would be mutual benefit in sharing their recovery experiences from chronic alcoholism with those who were still struggling with stopping this troubling addiction.
12 Step Meetings in the 21st Century
Today, there is an entire field of medicine dedicated to treating addictions. Addicts can now find recovery outside the medical community(s) by attending 12-step recovery meetings that address most types of addictions, such as: alcohol, drugs, specific types of drugs, smoking, eating (both eating disorders and over-eating), sex addictions, gambling addictions, work addictions, and shopping addictions.
Meetings That Help the Addict's Family and Friends
There are also various support groups for those who are family members of alcoholics or drug addicts. These types of groups might be geared to co-dependents, and some are structured to teach the principle of tough love to the significant others' of addicted persons. These groups are important for those who need guidance and support in learning healthier ways to approach life with an addict or a recovering addict.
There are many whose recovery from the impact of addiction begins in a support group such as Al-Anon or Alateen. These are groups that base their recovery on the aspects of a family dynamic that develops when one family member has an alcohol or drug problem. The addict or alcoholic may be a parent or teen. When one family member is an addict, the other family members become what has been termed "co-dependent" in these family systems. As the family adapts to incorporate the addict's behaviors and problems, their dynamic becomes dysfunctional and needs to be set right so their personal development, both together and individually, can be healed and redirected onto a less dysfunctional path.
As they achieve maturity through their own personal recovery process, co-dependents are able to deal more effectively with the addict in the family. Addiction can take a family down, and these programs will assist them in avoiding that fate and getting support for dealing with the devastation of addiction. Many of these people may develop their own addictions and go into recovery for their own substance abuse issues, which is not uncommon.
Finding the Recovery Program That's Right for You
How does one begin to determine where they belong or what recovery program is the best fit? Many of those with a history of family addiction problems may find that they can comfortably feel at home in numerous types of 12 step meetings or support groups. Not all of the meetings or groups available will be 12-step based.
In choosing the 12-step recovery program that is most effective, you will need to determine, not so much what your particular problem is, but what your solution should look like. In today's culture, many are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. While their problems may not be exactly the same as the alcoholics they encounter in AA, they may choose to attend AA and deal with that addiction, because they find the recovery program is suited to helping them get to where they wish to go.
Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.